How do I Become a Correctional Nurse?

N. Madison

A person who wants to become a correctional nurse must first secure nurse licensing. Many aspiring correctional nurses opt to become registered nurses while others may decide to become certified nursing assistants or licensed practical nurses instead. Generally, a nurse with any of these titles can find a job in a correctional facility. An individual who opts to become a registered nurse may receive the most extensive education and training, however, as well as more pay.

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

Correctional facility nurses assist doctors and nurse practitioners with providing medical care for prisoners of a correctional institution. A correctional nurse may help screen and assess patients and assist doctors with medical procedures. These nurses often administer medications as well, being careful to ensure that prisoners do not hoard them and take them back to their cells to sell or trade to other prisoners. They also keep records regarding prisoner health and check patient vital signs. Correctional nurses typically take great care with safety precautions as well, as the potential for transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C may be greater in a correctional facility.

A prison.
A prison.

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To become a correctional nurse, a person must complete the basic requirements of a nursing education program. Those who opt to become registered nurses usually earn associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, or nursing diplomas and then take a nurse licensing exam. Once a person has completed this process, he can apply to become a registered nurse.

A licensed practical nurse may also apply to become a correctional nurse. To become a licensed practical nurse, a person must complete a nurse training program provided by a hospital or trade school. These programs may require as little as several months to complete. Alternatively, some prospective licensed practical nurses may choose to attend community colleges, earning associate’s degrees. Following schooling, the prospective nurse takes a licensing exam and then applies to become a correctional nurse.

A person who wants to become a correctional nurse may also do so as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). To pursue this title, a person usually completes high school or earns a General Educational Development (GED) diploma and then completes a certified nursing assistant training program at a community college, hospital, or vocational institute. After passing a certification exam, a CNA may apply to become a correctional nurse at a jail, prison, or other type of correctional facility.

There aren't any specific certifications a nurse needs to become a correctional nurse. If he's obtained licensing, that's usually enough. There are, however, some jurisdictions that offer voluntary certification in correctional nursing. Such certification may prove helpful when applying for a job, but usually isn't viewed as a requirement.

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