Caring in Correctional Nursing: An Example

This guest post by Teresa Waits, RN, is taken from her submission to the 2013 Correctional Nursing Celebration Essay Contest.

hoffnungWatson Caring Principle: Caring is the intention of doing for another and being with another who is in need.

The answer to the question, Do Correctional Nurses Care? is full of possibility and variability. I always remember the Florence Nightingale Pledge that we recited at our Pinning ceremony many years ago.  My favorite excerpts include:

  • “abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous”
  • “zealously seek to nurse those who are ill wherever they may be and whenever they are in need”
  • “missioner of health dedicated to the advancement of human welfare”
  • “practice my profession faithfully”
  • “be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of those committed to my care”

Here is an example from my own experience that describes how correctional nursing must be flexible, adaptive, sincere, and persistent when we care for our patients.

We had an inmate at our Work Release Facility who became ill and was taken to the Emergency Room in that city; which happened to be a Level 4 Trauma Center.  After their evaluation he was told he had the flu and was dismissed.

Because it was a Friday evening and his status was not improved, the consensus of the HSA and myself was that we should transfer him to our minimum security facility which has 24/7 nursing coverage.  He was transported to our site and when he arrived he was not at all well.

I examined him and even though I did not know what exactly was causing the problem, I did feel that he had an acute abdomen.  I obtained an order to send him to the local Emergency Room and upon his transport by DOC staff, I called the ER Nurse to give report.  I gave her a brief history of the other emergency room visit and their diagnosis of the Flu.  I also gave her the results of my exam and told her that I really believed that he had an acute abdomen.

In the end, he did have an acute abdomen, caused by a ruptured gall bladder.  He had emergency surgery and after some complications, a transfer to another hospital, 10 days in the hospital and recuperation in the Infirmary at another DOC facility he returned to our site.

Upon his return to our facility he asked the intake nurse to thank me for him and several days later when he was in our clinic he personally thanked my for saving his life.  It is nice to be appreciated and I am very thankful for my knowledge and skill that helped me to care by doing for another and being with another who is in need.

Teresa WaitsTeresa Waits, RN, started her corrections career at Lansing Correctional Facility, Lansing, KS in the Infirmary.  Upon moving back to Winfield, she began working at Winfield Correctional Facility.  Initially she was the Intake Nurse.   Additional positions held include, Infection Control Nurse, Utilization Management Nurse, Clinic Nurse, Director of Nursing and providing education to inmates coming into the facility and staff during Basic and Annual Training.

 Read more about caring in correctional nursing practice in Chapter 2: Ethical Principles for Correctional Nursing from Essentials of Correctional Nursing. Order your copy directly from the publisher. Use promotional code AF1209 for $15 off and free shipping.

Photo Credit: © Alexander Wurditsch –

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