Nursing Career Profile: Forensic Psychiatric Nursing

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Where the jobs are:

Psych mental health nurses who specialize in forensic nursing work with people who have mental health problems and have also been convicted of crimes. Nurses in this specialty work in jails, holding facilities and prisons that may be operated by city, state, county or federal governments. Nurses may also work in freestanding psychiatric institutions devoted exclusively to forensic psychiatry. Nurses may also work as one on one support to hospitalized prisoners or in facilities devoted to detaining non citizens for having insufficient immigration documentation.

Job characteristics and specialized responsibilities:

Nurses in forensic settings assess and evaluate client mental health symptoms. They also document and report these symptoms and serve on a part of the clinical team determining care process and goals. Forensic nurses often have a very extensive medication administration responsibility and some facilities designate a “med nurse” who may spend an entire or a large part of their shift administering meds. Depending on the acuity of the patient population and the availability of security staff, nurses may also assist with takedown and restraint of clients who become violent or incapable of achieving control. Forensic nurses may also provide first aid after take downs and client fights.

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