Correctional nursing key to prison health care

Published:02 September 2019

Clinical Nurse Coordinator Donna-Marie Bloice and CQUniversity Deputy Dean Learning and Teaching from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences Dr Julie Bradshaw.

A gap in the national market has seen the creation of a new Graduate Certificate (GC) for CQUniversity.

The new GC in Correctional Nursing will launch in time for Term 1 2020 and will be the only postgraduate qualification of its kind in Australia.

The postgraduate course will give nurses that are employed or seeking employment in correctional services, with essential knowledge and skills to provide high-quality nursing care to inmates.

Clinical Nurse Coordinator and the person responsible for assisting with developing the new course, Donna-Marie Bloice, said she was looking forward to finally seeing the course come to fruition.

“This course has been a long time coming and is something that is definitely needed in the market as there’s nothing else like it available in Australia,” Ms Bloice said.

“Correctional Nursing has never been recognised as really glamorous and it’s certainly never been recognised as a speciality before but it is a speciality and is every bit as important in a health field as intensive care nursing or midwifery which is why I wanted it to become recognised professionally,” she explained.

Delivered via distance education, the new course will be available for registered nurses or hospital-trained nurses to apply and will comprise of four units including Jail Craft, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Optimising Health in the Correctional Setting and Understanding Offenders.

Ms Bloice said that currently, any registered nurse is eligible to be employed as a correctional nurse however she said that could change in the future.

“Our nurses might be a graduate nurse, an early career nurse and nurses who come out thinking that working in a prison environment is like primary health care but in actual fact there’s all the complications that come with working in that environment from all the escalating behaviours to the drug use and all sorts of other problems and things that they’re not actually confronted with when they’re in a ward environment or a super clinic,” she said.

“There’s quite a lot of learning and we seem to have quite an attrition rate because they realise they can’t deal with that kind of behaviour.

“I’m hoping that by having completed this course, a nurse coming in will actually understand the environment instead of being so frightened of it. So when the jobs are advertised, it will state that it would be a desirable qualification to possess or to be working towards.”

CQUniversity Deputy Dean Learning and Teaching from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences Dr Julie Bradshaw said the GC Correctional Nursing would teach students the many facets of the nursing role including primary health care, chronic disease management, health education and responding to emergencies.

“There will be a focus on understanding offenders, why they are likely to offend and the effect of incarceration, in particular, how this relates to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population,” Dr Bradshaw explained.

“Students will gain knowledge about licit and illicit drug use, harm minimisation strategies and treatment relevant to the prison environment, and in particular, they will learn strategies to manage the impact of trauma on self and in the prisoner population. 

“Completing this course will certainly help students better understand the prison system in a health context.”

For more information on CQUniversity’s GC in Correctional Nursing, or to apply, go to