Moral Distress Among Correctional Nurses

Topic: Nursing
Words: 361 Pages: 1

Although the work of nurses is generally associated with increased workplace stress, correctional nurses are probably among those who have more chances to be consumed by negative feelings compared to their colleagues in other spheres. In this regard, one aspect necessitates special attention from the researchers and medical community, which is moral distress. It appears when the nursing staff is discouraged from behaving in a manner that coincides with their professional or moral duties due to certain external obstacles (Smith, Muse, and Phillips, 2021). Indeed, correctional nurses should work in an atmosphere that combines control and strict discipline of the guards and marginal culture and distrust of the prisoners with the desire and duty to help people. For this reason, conflicts with other colleagues and incarcerated people can appear quite often. As a result, such feelings of moral distress may significantly affect the work of correctional nurses. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the methods that would help the latter to control and overcome the abovementioned negative sentiments.

The reason why I am interested in this topic can be explained by my personal experience. During the work, I often notice how the values of other facility workers and correctional nurses differ in regards to ‘patients’. Usually, my fellow nurses and I can resolve potentially difficult situations without conflict, but it is not always possible. Moreover, the absence of conflict does not mean the absence of negative feelings; rather, we sometimes need to act not in accordance with the professional and ethical duties due to compromise. As a consequence, many of my coworkers and I experience moral distress, which generally reduces our satisfaction with the work and adversely affects our performance.

On the one hand, such a condition that correctional nurses should work in can negatively impact the psychological condition of the latter. On the other hand, it also affects the quality of the treatment. Thus, I want to investigate the existing methods that would help me and other correctional nurses to better deal with potential tensions with other workers and successfully cope with moral distress. I believe that addressing this problem may significantly influence the overall quality of the provided care.


Smith, S., Muse, M. V., & Phillips, J. M. (2021). Addressing moral distress in correctional nursing: A call to action. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 27(2), 75-80.

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