Caring in Correctional Nursing: Concluding Example

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

Watson’s Transpersonal Caring: Care is authentic presence where the nurse honors the patient’s dignity and vulnerability.

Chamomile on barbed wireSeveral years ago, one Saturday, I was approached by a 29 year old white female (XX) in Outpatient Services* with lower extremity weakness.  XX reported she was having difficulty walking for several weeks and had gone to many sick calls.  A co-worker recommended for her to wait until Monday. I escorted XX to a treatment room and noticed that XX was holding onto the wall as she walked.  I got her chart, and started my assessment where she had bilateral strength in her upper extremities.  However, her lower extremities presented with considerable muscle weakness. Potential for falls was a nursing concern.

A chart review revealed that XX had had several sick calls for lower extremity weakness and, sure enough, she was referred to our medical provider. Per the medical providers note, an MRI was recommended, approved, and scheduled.  XX reported she had the MRI about two weeks ago but did not know the results.  Upon closer chart scrutiny, I found the MRI report and it revealed lesions in the brain with a radiologist note of probable MS [multiple sclerosis].  The provider, who ordered the MRI, was, luckily, on call that weekend.

The provider was pleasant over the phone and thanked me for investigating the patients compliant; finding the MRI results and calling him.  He ordered XX to be admitted to our inpatient infirmary and he would see her in the morning when he also explained the results of her MRI and started appropriate treatment. XX was very appreciative.

This scenario was an educational moment for the nursing staff to take all patient complaints and concerns seriously. Inmates are a vulnerable population in which nursing must advocate for their needs as they advocate for any patient’s need.  As a nurse educator in corrections, I remind the nursing staff, that they need strong assessment and therapeutic communication skills. The female correctional population has higher instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse, late to prenatal care, substance abuse and lack of medical care than populations outside of corrections.

I am proud to be part of Correctional Nursing where correctional facilities are viewed as public health stations that significantly impact the health status of the larger community. Nursing Services Motto is: “DOC Nursing: Caring from Within!”

* Outpatient Services is equivalent to an urgent care service.

Elissa Brody RN, BSN, is at present a Nurse Clinician 1 with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. She has been a nurse for over 31 years and in healthcare for 35 years.  In addition to correctional nursing, she has worked as an RN in Med/Surg, Pulmonary Care Unit, Labor & Delivery, Mother Baby, Nursing Homes, and as a Clinical Instructor at LPN, RN, & BSN programs. Elissa’s current responsibilities as a nurse educator include orientation of all new Health Services staff, Nursing Orientation, Medication Tech. week long training course, CPR for all Health Services staff, training reports to make sure Health Services staff have their 40 hours annual training requirements as well mandatory classes. 

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: © Semen Pazekov –

One thought on “Caring in Correctional Nursing: Concluding Example

  1. Elissa’s story is one that is found in all corrections facilities because so many of our patients are not knowledgeable about the health care system and really not knowledgeable about their own bodies. So many come to jail and for the first time become clean and sober and start “feeling” what their body is doing and going through. Most manifest this as pain, but this patient had a serious medical condition that was identified when a nurse took the time to first LOOK at the patient and evaluate what was going on. We all should remember this story and share with staff because stories tell tales
    books sometimes cannot portray.


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