Daytime talk show host Katie Couric recently paid tribute to nurses and the important role they play in their patients’ lives. Her guest, Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), highlighted another critical role of today’s nurses: decision-maker.

“In 2010, a study from the Institute of Medicine reported that nurses are not being used to their full potential,” Mason explained. “This finding is key because it recognizes that we cannot transform healthcare in our country without tapping into the potential of our nurses and the important role they can play at decision-making tables at all levels of healthcare organizations and for all healthcare policies.”

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According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 2.3 million men and women are incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. It’s a population with complex and diverse healthcare needs – injuries, chronic conditions, even palliative care.

Providing nursing care to this group of patients, and in this setting, is not a job for everyone, said Lorry Schoenly, PhD, RN, a correctional nursing specialist and visiting professor in Chamberlain’s MSN program. However, for the right nurse, it can also be extremely satisfying and rewarding specialty.

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