In the Face of a Challenge: Standards for Correctional Nursing Practice

A correctional nurse once described a time when the warden of the facility told her to give an injection of Haldol to an inmate in segregation who had been screaming obscenities for several days.  The correctional officers had been unable to quiet the inmate and his behavior had escalated out of control. The nurse told the warden that she was unable to give the injection because there was no medical order to do so.  The warden looked her in the eye for a few seconds and calmly said, “If I give you a direct order and you don’t comply you will be considered insubordinate.”  The nurse ultimately survived this confrontation because she was knowledgeable of and supported by the Corrections Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice published by the American Nurses Association (ANA).

The ANA standards define the scope of nursing practice, describe the distinguishing features of correctional nursing and outline the characteristics of the nurse’s practice in the specialty area.  The ANA standards are used to:

  • inform nurses and others about correctional nursing practice
  • guide nurse’s day- to- day practice
  • develop policy and procedure and other governance of  professional practice
  • reflect on professional practice and plan improvement
  • resolve conflicts such as the one described here

The areas covered by the standards are listed below.  The text Corrections Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice describes each standard and lists the criteria to measure conformance to the standard.


Professional Performance

1. Assessment 7. Quality of Practice
2. Diagnosis 8. Education
3. Outcomes Identification 9. Practice Evaluation
4. Planning 10. Collegiality
5. Implementation 11. Collaboration
6. Evaluation 12. Ethics
13. Research
14. Resource Utilization
15. Leadership

Corrections nursing: Scope& standards of practice. (2007). Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

To illustrate how the standards work they are woven throughout every chapter of the Essentials of Corrections Nursing which is due out at the end of this month. Nurses’ knowledge of the ANA standards is tested in the certification exams offered by the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). For more about the ANA standards and how they are applied in correctional nursing go to

The ANA is currently revising the 2007 edition of Corrections Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice.  The description of the scope of practice of correctional nurses has been updated and the definition of correctional nursing revised.  Revision of the standards includes an emphasis on nurses’ responsibility for communication and a new standard concerning environmental health.

Nurses are encouraged to review and comment on the proposed draft of the Correctional Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice. In September or October the draft will be posted for 45 days on the ANA website ( for public comment.  Comments will be used to further revise the standards and then the draft will be forwarded to the ANA Standards and Guidelines Committee for review.  The document is expected to be in final form and published about a year from now.

When the draft of the 2007 edition came out for review there was a lot of public comment. This input was reflected in the final version and as a result it has been a strong and utilitarian guide for correctional nurses since then. I hope you will let your voice be heard during the review of the next edition.

What do you see as the features of correctional nursing that distinguish it as a specialty area of practice?   Let us hear from you using the comments section of this post.

Photo Credit: © Kheng Guan Toh –

One thought on “In the Face of a Challenge: Standards for Correctional Nursing Practice

  1. Pingback: Revised ANA Correctional Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice « Essentials of Correctional Nursing

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