Working as a nurse within a prison is a challenging and demanding occupation but can also be rewarding. Prisoners can have complex health needs and nurses will not only provide general medical care but will also work with those with mental health issues and drug and alcohol dependency. Prison nurses may work in high security establishments, open prisons, young offenders’ institutions and women’s prisons. They are normally employed by the National Health Service but some are employed by private service providers or prison services.
Investigate the role by reading profiles available from the Royal College of Nursing and through information available on the NHS website. Make sure that you fully understand what the job of a prison nurse entails. Ask yourself if you would be able to cope with the many challenges that the job brings. Contact the nursing advisor at your local prison to arrange to visit a so that you have an accurate idea of the environment in which you hope to work.
Train to be a registered nurse as only qualified registered nurses will be considered for a role as a prison nurse - this will entail styudying for a degree in adult nursing and registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Choose which area you will specialise in for pre-registration training - adult nursing, mental health nursing or training to nurse those with a learining disability will all be beneficial when applying to become a prison nurse.
Decide which type of setting you would like to work in. Find out about the different roles available in the various type of prisons that operate in the UK through information available on the NHS website or by contacting the Royal College of Nursing or the Prison Service.
Talk to the nursing advisor at your nearest prison to get further advice about the role. Discuss any concerns you have and any gaps in your experience and training that might affect your chances of finding employment in the prison system. Ask the nursing advisor for advice on specific courses that will help you to find employment in this area.
Look on the NHS website for available vacancies. Try the prison services website too. Update your curriculum vitae drawing attention to your relevant experience and send it to specialist nursing agencies.