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What is Your Correctional Nurse Work Style

A major challenge for many in correctional nursing is adjusting to the work environment. A correctional facility is not run like a hospital and health care is not the primary mission. Correctional officers often have different goals and worldviews than healthcare staff. Nurses can have difficulty assimilating into the organizational culture while maintaining a professional nursing perspective. That’s why I found this research about the work styles of jail nurses so interesting.

Hardesty, Champion, and Champion interviewed 26 registered and licensed practical nurses working in jails in three northern states. Patterns and themes emerged as the transcribed interviews were analyzed. One interesting finding was a proposed typology of jail nurse work styles. This typology chronicles the adjustment of a new nurse to the correctional culture and the effect of that adjustment on their ability to function successfully. The categories are based primarily on the balance the nurse is able to gain practicing professionally while understanding the security perspective and organizational culture.

Check out this continuum of jail nurse work styles and see if you can find yourself, or some of your nurse colleagues, in the descriptions.


  • Rejects or fails to understand the security perspective
  • Nursing perspective is the primary consideration
  • Poorly socialized to the custody staff culture


  • Acknowledges and respects the security perspective
  • Nursing perspective remains the primary consideration
  • Socialized to the custody staff culture


  • Alternates between the security and the nursing perspective
  • Nursing perspective is optional
  • Not yet socialized to the custody staff culture


  • Accepts the security perspective
  • Minimally acknowledges the nursing perspective
  • Socialized to the custody staff culture


  • Extreme acceptance of and identification with the security perspective
  • Considers nursing perspective not applicable in a jail environment
  • Well socialized to custody staff culture

So, what is the optimum work style? The researchers do not clearly note the best work style and suggest that more research is needed. My vote is for the Realist style as this nurse is able to maintain a professional nursing perspective while understanding the perspective of correctional officers and socializing to the correctional culture. This provides an atmosphere of respect and understanding among peers while allowing for professional nursing practice.

So, what do you think? Which work style is the most favorable for correctional nursing practice? Do you see examples of these work styles in your facility? How does it affect patient outcomes? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Photo Credit: © boule1301 – Fotolia.com

This post originally appeared in CorrectionalNurse.Net

Guest post by Dr. Lorry Schoenly nurse author and educator specializing in the field of correctional health care. She has written 6 continuing education courses especially for the Correctional Healthcare Campus.

Correctional Healthcare Processes
Safety in the Correctional Setting
The Correctional Healthcare Patient and Environment
Medication Administration in the Correctional Setting
Risk and Documentation in the Correctional Setting
Special Issues in Corrections

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Posted: 4/3/2017 1:43:25 PM
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