Eden - Correctional Nursing

Eden - Correctional Nursing

Today we chat to Eden who followed her grandmother's footsteps into nursing and now works as a nurse in a correctional facility. We can't wait hear more!


Hi! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog! Can I start with asking how you got into nursing?

Hey lovely! Absolutely! I’ve always wanted to be a nurse! My grandma was a nurse in the army so I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I’ve always wanted to serve my community and give back. I found that nursing has been the best way for me to do that. I also wanted to do something that was challenging! As a nurse you can work in so many fields so I felt like that would be the best decision for me in life. I’m a person who gives all of me to the people around me and what better way to keep doing that other than nursing.

Amazing! You must be so proud of your grandma too! So what is your current role?

Yes I am! She’s a wonderful woman! I’m currently a third year RN working at Long Bay Correctional Centre. I work in Primary Care. However I did my new grad at the forensic hospital (mental health).

Oh wow that must be so interesting! What is a typical day like for you in the correctional centre?

It’s pretty busy in the clinic! It’s run like a community clinic. It’s spilt into three different sections. Medication nurse, Primary Care Nurse and ASU Nurse. The Medication nurse will pack medications for the entire centre for the entire day. They also follow up charts, ordering medications, discharge medications and things like that For the Primary Care Nurse. We start in the morning with checking s4/s8 medications. Then we continue and complete AM diabetic checks and insulin. If there's any fasting bloods that’s done first thing too. Next is methadone dosing which is done by two nurses. Next would be checking the daily lists for bloods, physical observations, clozapine monitoring, MH depots, metabolic monitoring and reviewing patients with any chronic or acute medical/mental health concerns. The patients have a referral system so if they need to see a nurse, they can write it down and place it in the referral box which gets transferred to the clinic lists for us to check. If it’s something more acute, we can see them straight away in the clinic. We also manage patients with developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions and mental health patients. It’s a wide range of responsibilities but it’s so fun and I learn something new every day.

That all sounds so wonderfully interesting and diverse. What is your favourite part of your job?

I think the team is a big part of why I’m there! Also my other favourite thing is that I’ve gained so much confidence and become so resilient ❤️

What is the most challenging thing you have experienced in your current role?

The most challenging thing would definitely being placing my personal feelings aside and treating patients who are criminals. Sometimes you know what they’ve done and who they are and it’s hard when it hits close to home. I’m a survivor of sexual assault and sometimes caring for patients who have done something like that to someone can really take it’s toll on you. I’ve learnt to put all my personal feelings aside and now treat the patient as any other. Treat them with dignity, respect and have empathy even when you know about them.

That must have been challenging to learn how to put your feelings aside, do you have any advice on how to care for yourself when caring for such patients?

Make sure you leave work at work. Don’t take it home with you. Make sure you take time to unwind before you get home. Also I have lots of support on the outside with family and friends and making sure I’m doing things that don’t involve work. Loads of self care with meditation, listening to music, skin care, movies and reading.

That's great to have those supports in place. I think it is important to identify your support options early in your career before you need them. Have you done any extra study to help with your role?

I did my new grad at the Forensic hospital in Acute Mental Health which was really good to prepare me for violent patients. However I didn’t do any extra studies for correctional health. Justice health offers a lot of education which is amazing I am doing my masters of nursing, majoring in education.

You mention violent patients. Do you get put in situations where you are scared for your safety?

There was a patient who was due a mental health depot and within two minutes became verbally abusive and aggressive. We had four officers there which made me feel safer but in the end didn’t give him the needle incase he did turn physically aggressive.

How closely do you work with the officers and other staff at the facility?

Very closely. The officers are always there so you’re never with a patient alone. You have to coordinate a lot with the officers. Certain patients can’t mix and they have certain lock-in times so you’re very close with the officers. You also work very closely with the allied health, doctors and psychiatrists. You have to in such a setting because you rely heavily on good communication to provide the best possible care.

Sounds like a great place to develop team work and communication skills would you say?

Yes absolutely! Since you’re working with correctional officers, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists etc you really have a chance to improve your team work and communication. Usually most of the staff are receptive to young nurses so they’re happy to help as well! You really build your written and verbal communication due to the large amount of people you work with both patients and staff.

Just to wrap up I'm wondering if there is anything you would say to students preparing for a placement in a correctional facility or a nurse looking to move into this area?

My advice would be to have an open mind. Remember to be kind to yourself and debrief as much as you can. Set clear boundaries with your patients. Use all available education! Justice health has some great courses online and in person. Take advantage of it! And enjoy it! You’ll never experience anything like it. It is fun and you’ll learn so many things. You’ll build your resilience and confidence.

Amazing thank you so much for sharing with me 🙂

If you would like to be interviewed or write a guest post for the Nurse Life blog please get in contact at nurselifeaus@gmail.com

Stay safe brothers and sisters!

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