A Look Behind Bars: An Introduction to Correctional Nursing

by | Jan 18, 2021 | Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 1 comment

Correctional Nursing

When you think about nursing, you might picture a bustling hospital, a quiet clinic, or a cozy nursing home. But have you ever considered working in a correctional facility? Correctional nursing is an often-overlooked field that offers unique challenges and rewards. In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this fascinating area of nursing, including safety, job descriptions, typical day-to-day experiences, and the common issues that patients in prison face. We’ll also touch on the pay and job outlook for those considering a career in correctional nursing.

Defining Corrections Nursing

Correctional nursing, also known as prison nursing, involves providing healthcare services to inmates in correctional facilities such as jails and prisons. These nurses work as part of a team to deliver quality care to a population that often has unique and complex healthcare needs. Correctional nurses must be adaptable, compassionate, and skilled in dealing with patients from diverse backgrounds and with various health concerns.

Safety in Correctional Nursing

One of the primary concerns in correctional nursing is safety. While it’s true that working in a prison environment can present unique challenges, many nurses find that they feel safe and secure in their workplace. Correctional facilities have strict security measures in place to protect both staff and inmates. Furthermore, nurses are trained in safety procedures and protocols, ensuring that they are well-prepared for any potential issues that may arise.

Why Do People Love Correctional Nursing?

Correctional nursing is a rewarding field for those who want to make a difference in the lives of an often-underserved population. Many nurses are drawn to this field because it allows them to provide care to patients who may not have access to quality healthcare outside of the prison system. Additionally, correctional nursing offers a unique work environment that can be both challenging and fulfilling, providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Job Description and Typical Day in the Life

Correctional nurses are responsible for assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating healthcare for inmates within a correctional facility. Their duties may include:

  • Conducting health assessments and providing routine care
  • Administering medications and treatments
  • Coordinating with other healthcare professionals to develop and implement care plans
  • Managing chronic health conditions and addressing acute health issues
  • Providing education on health and wellness to inmates

A typical day for a correctional nurse might involve medication administration, responding to medical emergencies, conducting health assessments, and providing patient education. The work environment can be fast-paced and unpredictable, requiring nurses to think on their feet and adapt to a variety of situations.

Common Conditions and Issues Faced by Patients in Prison

Inmates in correctional facilities often face unique health challenges, including:

  • Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma
  • Substance abuse disorders and withdrawal symptoms
  • Infectious diseases, including hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis
  • A history of inadequate healthcare access, which can lead to undiagnosed or poorly managed conditions

Correctional nurses play a crucial role in addressing these health concerns and providing quality care to their patients.

Pay and Job Outlook

The pay for correctional nursing is generally competitive with other nursing specialties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for registered nurses (which includes correctional nurses) was $75,330 in 2020. Salaries can vary depending on factors such as education, experience, and location.

In terms of job outlook, the demand for registered nurses, including those in correctional nursing, is expected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Final Thoughts on Correctional Nursing

Correctional nursing is a unique and rewarding career path that offers nurses the opportunity to make a significant impact on an often-underserved population. With a focus on safety, adaptability, and compassion, correctional nurses provide essential healthcare services to inmates with diverse and complex health needs. The competitive pay and positive job outlook make correctional nursing an attractive option for those looking to challenge themselves and grow professionally in a non-traditional healthcare setting. If you’re interested in making a difference and embracing the unique challenges of this field, consider exploring a career in correctional nursing.

More Resources on Jobs for Nurses

Are you done with the guess-work of applying and interviewing for nursing jobs?

hired: the ultimate guide to nurse resumes and interviews course cover

Hired from FreshRN is a self-paced, online course for ambitious nurses who want to be the ideal candidate for their dream job. Amber Nibling, MSN RN-BC, and Kati Kleber, MSN RN have interviewed hundreds of nurse applicants and they give you the inside scoop of what interviewers are thinking. Learn everything you need to know to impress potential employers (and yourself) by learning what the hiring team expects from you, so you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.


Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.

1 Comment


    I am a registered mental Nurse in Ghana.
    I work in a correction facility with a population of over 2000 inmates. As a mental health nurse though due to the nature and scope of my environment I undertake care on inmates with all kinds of medical conditions.
    Challenges include inadequate access to medical supplies and susceptible to infections, lack of proper education on infection prevention.
    Poor facility setting to undertake proper health care.
    Lack of support from the central government.
    The facility depends on donations by individuals.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.