What is a Correctional Facility Nurse?If you’re thinking about starting a career in nursing, you might picture yourself working in a hospital once you graduate from school, but you might like to consider nontraditional locations for a nursing job. A correctional facility nurse is one option worth investigating. Jails, prisons and detention centers need qualified nurses to keep inmates healthy, and getting into this type of work is a great way to help people that are often overlooked in society.


A correctional facility nurse usually has the same duties as nurses who work in more traditional settings, but he or she may also be given extra responsibilities. This is because inmates often need more supervision than most people. For instance, once an individual in the general population gets a prescription, he or she is expected to take the medicine without supervision. Inmates, on the other hand, normally aren’t allowed to keep their medications with them. Instead, a nurse must hand out the prescriptions to each individual and make sure that each medication is taken. A nurse who works in a correctional facility may be required to hand out medications multiple times every day. In general, incarcerated individuals require much more supervision when it comes to their health, and nurses are the ones who are responsible for this supervision.

Intake Screenings

Correctional facility nurses are also usually responsible for intake screenings. Inmates must undergo a screening process when arriving at a correctional facility to make sure that they aren’t a danger to themselves or others and to find out if they need any immediate or ongoing medical treatments. Nurses who are responsible for intake screenings usually try to get a thorough medical history from each individual and perform physical and mental health examinations. Once a nurse completes these examinations on a person, he or she may have to contact previous health care providers for more information or to confirm the inmate’s recollections of previous health problems. He or she may also have to put in an order for any necessary medications. Considering that every incarcerated individual has to go through the intake screening process, this duty can take up a large portion of a nurse’s day.

Confidentiality Issues

Nurses in this line of work are generally not informed of the crimes that their patients have committed. This is because it can be hard for nurses to treat inmates fairly if they know what their patients have done. For instance, a nurse may subconsciously be more likely to believe an inmate and prescribe a certain medication if he or she knows that the inmate is in jail for theft because he was trying to support his family. Without even realizing it, that same nurse may be less likely to prescribe medication or request a follow-up for an individual that is in jail for rape. Even with the best intentions, it can be easy to become biased. Nurses must also be careful to protect their patients’ confidentiality when it comes to concerned friends or family members who are seeking information about their loved ones health.

Nurses are needed in all types of settings; so don’t limit yourself by just looking for a job at your local hospital. As long as you think that you can handle the extra responsibilities of working with inmates, you may want to think about becoming a correctional facility nurse.

For other nontraditional locations for nursing jobs: please see: What is a Cruise Ship Nurse? and What is a Flight Nurse?