From the eyes of a corrections nurse: Our Correctional Officers

He sat in front of me.  Mad at the world; but taking it out on me.  Subtle changes in his body language. “I’m going to flip the f%^& out!” as his voice begins to raise.  His demeanour completely changes. But before I can even think about what is happening a correctional officer strategically places himself between my client and myself.  The client resets and we continue to have a productive interview aimed at meeting my clients needs.

365 photo blog (1 of 1)-15

ISO 800 35mm f/5.0 1/100 secs Day 15 “Hat” #365PhotoBlog

In the hospital setting we often deal with violent patients.  Sometimes predictable violence and sometimes unpredictable violence.  It can be scary.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared a few times along the way.

Working at the jail is presumably “scary”.  Often people ask me whether it is a scary place to work.  The answer is simple.  When a violent episode erupts I no longer run toward it (as I do at the hospital), now I walk away from it (at the jail).  The men and women working as correctional officers do the heavy lifting these days.  To be honest I have never felt more safe working as a nurse then I do at the jail.

With saying this– just as we use universal precaution at the hospital for dealing with bodily fluids; I presume that every client at the correctional center has the capacity to be violent.  Safety and security are now a part of my world and I do things a little differently.  Body placement, awareness of my surroundings and key control are all new practices that have quickly become second nature.  As a nurse it is irrelevant to me what a client has done to end up in jail– in fact I don’t want to know.  Protecting a therapeutic nurse-client relationship is an important part of my role.  With that in mind, every client has the capacity for violence.

Correctional Officers often do not get the recognition they deserve.  My team and I could not get through the day without their collaboration and insight.  They not only protect our safety but keeping our clients safe is at the center of their world.

Thank you



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