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Nursing in a Correctional Facility

If you are a nurse in New York, have you ever considered a career in the correctional or justice system? Is it a career that scares you or at least makes you nervous so you have never looked into it? Or is it a career field that you know nothing about and so have never even thought about it? Let’s take a look at the advantage of a nursing career in correctional facilities.

Careers with the Justice Department and Corrections

Just what kinds of jobs are available through the Justice Department? Just an example is the in the state of Indiana where there are 28,000 people in the jails and around 280 nurses working in those facilities. Throughout the US there are almost seven million incarcerated individuals and the need exists for thousands of nurses.

In Indiana 2-6 new nursing jobs are created in the corrections department every week. What kind of jobs are these?

  • County Jails/Community Confinement Facilities: People in these facilities are awaiting either a trial or sentencing. There are not that many people incarcerated in these facilities at any one time. Who you are treating will change constantly with little or no follow-up.
  • Prisons – State and Federal – house prisoners for the long term and can be minimum, medium or maximum security prison. In this environment, you will treat the same patients over a long period of time. Nurses are also caring for the entire person and all their needs so multidisciplinary skills are essential. With the skills required for this type of job, a good nurse may become interested in moving beyond the nursing level to a Physician Assistant.

Types of Nursing Positions Hired

  • Full and Part time nurses are needed in both the local jails and prisons.
  • RN’s, LPN’s and PRN’s are all needed and hired in local jails and federal or state prisons.

Nursing Skills Needed

The nursing skills needed are very much like any other nursing job. The same skills are needed and rewarded. It is a great place for a nurse to begin their career and acquire a wide range of skills in a short period of time. Some of the skills and experience hiring managers look for includes:

  • Acute care experience: ER, Forensics, Psychiatric, EMT, Paramedic
  • Awareness of use of resources
  • Experience in a structured environment
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking and decision making
  • Triage experience/Assessment skills
  • Worked in a variety of settings with a variety of patients
  • Compassion and empathy for people in all kinds of situations
  • Experience as part of a team
  • Able to maintain personal boundaries

Work Environment

  • Fast paced
  • Part of a large system
  • Room for Advancement
  • Autonomy in patient care
  • Multi-disciplinary teams in mental health, women’s health, infectious disease, imaging services and dental health.


If you are looking for a challenging nursing situation in New York and you flourish in a team environment, then this type of nursing situation just might be right for you. If you like having a mentor and/or being a mentor, the opportunities for this type of role are abundant within the correctional system.