Parkland Program for Correctional Health Nurses is First of its Kind

Parkland is creating highly-skilled nurses fit specifically for the world of correctional health with a 12-week course the hospital says is the only one like it in the country.

The Correctional Health Nursing Residency program, offered through Parkland’s Clinical Education department, combines classroom instruction and clinical experience with a mentor. It’s offered twice a year and trains nurses on the full spectrum of correctional health, from juvenile services to psychiatric services.

Parkland took over healthcare for inmates at the Dallas County Jail in 2006. Dallas County Sheriffs Deputies are always on hand when patients are being treated, and very few nurses have opted out due to safety concerns, says Debra Johnson, the program’s coordinator.

“The residency includes skills you would learn in any hospital or clinic setting such as the medical and nursing management of acute, chronic and mental illnesses, but we’ve added the clinical application and technical skills common to correctional health areas,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson adds that some inmates first learn of chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes at their initial medical screenings upon incarceration. Correctional health nurses provide basic nursing, including watching over acute illnesses, passing out medication, and helping medical staff with patient emergencies.