What does a Correctional Nurse do?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A correctional nurse works to provide care to inmates in a correctional facility. This type of nurse is expected to provide quality health care to his patients without regard to why they have been incarcerated. Like other nurses, a correctional nurse works under the supervision of a physician and often performs his job as part of a team of nurses or medical care staff. He may assist doctors and nurse practitioners, administer medications, provide first aid and emergency care, monitor inmate health, and care for inmates according to the instructions provided by the facility's physician or nurse practitioner.

A prison.
A prison.

One of the jobs a correctional nurse performs is the administering of medication. An individual in this job administers medications that have been approved for particular inmates. He may go to a specific part of the prison to do this, or the prisoners who need medications may come to a designated area to receive medications. The nurse may monitor the patient’s vital signs at this time and may also check for signs of deteriorating or improving health.

Correctional nurses provide medical care for prisoners.
Correctional nurses provide medical care for prisoners.

When an inmate is sick, a correctional nurse may help with his care. Following the directions of the prison’s doctor or nurse practitioner, a correctional nurse may assess the patient for signs of illness. Then, following the regulations provided for the correctional nursing staff, he may refer the patient for examination by the prison’s doctor, dentist, or psychiatrist. The nurse may also provide first aid when required or assist the doctor or nurse practitioner with examining patients, performing tests, and providing appropriate treatment.

Many prisoners have chronic illnesses that require frequent monitoring while they are in prison. A correctional nurse may help to monitor the health of a person with poorly controlled diabetes or a patient who is mentally unstable, for example. He may also assist with the care of patients who need to receive therapeutic drugs intravenously as well as those who need casts. Sometimes patients who need frequent medical care or require continual use of medical devices are housed in special medical cells. This provides the nurse with easier access to the patient and may prevent the medical devices from being used as weapons in the general prison population.

A major part of a correctional nurse's job is ensuring that safety procedures are followed. As communicable diseases can be prevalent in many prison populations, the proper handling of bodily fluids, used needles, and other types of hazardous waste is critical. Taking proper safety measures can be key in preventing the spread of disease, not only among the inmates, but also among the facility’s medical staff.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


I have heard that there is a high rate of turnover with correctional nurses. So there are often a good number of openings, which means finding a position should be relatively easy. Also, the correctional nurse salary is high, and because there is such high turnover promotions happen more often.

And with promotion comes even more money. If you can handle the environment, this is a good area of nursing to go into if you want to earn a good living.


Women nurses shouldn't be employed in correctional nurse jobs where they are working with male inmates. This is a bad situation and it puts the nurses at risk. With the numbers of male nurses we have now, getting women nurses out of male prisons shouldn't be too difficult.


A corrections nurse has a job to do in the same way other nurses who work in hospitals and medical centers have jobs to do. Being in a prison and treating prisoners shouldn't mean that correctional nurses aren't expected to care as much about their patients as other nurses who don't work in prisons.

Of course the nurses have to follow the rules of the correctional facilities where they work, but this shouldn't stop them from caring about their jobs and their patients. Besides, just because a person is in prison doesn't mean he or she is a terrible person who doesn't need care and compassion.


Having a nursing job in a correctional facility sounds challenging to say the least. I have always thought of nurses, at least the good ones, having a knack for connecting with people and getting to know them on a personal level to some extent. I'm thinking this would be more difficult in a prison setting where you are most likely encouraged to keep your distance from the inmates and simply do your job.

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