Correctional Medicine Physician

There’s no question that becoming a medical professional and entering the healthcare field is one of the best options out there when you want to find a job that rewards you personally and professionally. Almost everyone knows that the medical field is filled with jobs that offer excellent salaries, good job growth, and great benefits. But one interesting option that many are considering is to become a correctional medicine physician.

This position places you in a situation wherein you provide direct care to patients, only in a very unique setting. It still offers all the benefits and rewards that traditional physician positions do, however, and as such it’s well worth a look by those hoping to find a career that is right for them. Keep reading to learn more about what it involves.

What Is a Correctional Medicine Physician?

Essentially, a correctional medicine physician is a medical doctor who works within the prison system instead of in a hospital or private practice. They work to provide medical care to inmates, and will work in prisons, jails, and other correctional institutions.

Correctional medicine physician job duties vary greatly, but will include the following.

  •   Provide care to individual patients as needed
  •   Examine, diagnose, and treat patients and their illnesses or injuries
  •   Consult with prison authorities to ensure that they understand all medical requirements and restrictions
  •   Work to deliver care to patient populations
  •   Deliver educational materials to patient populations in order to teach them better health habits and provide an increase to overall population health
  •   Perform daily checks of supplies and order additional ones as needed
  •   Perform checks of equipment to maintain proper working order
  •   Perform tests and exams as needed, including tests requiring machines like EKGs or X-rays
  •   Collaborate with different health team members and correctional team members to ensure all protocols, security policies, and procedures are followed while still delivering healthcare to those in need
  •   Keep clear, accurate records as required by protocols
  •   Communicate with health team members and other staff who assist in the delivery of medical care
  •   Transcribe med orders
  •   Perform any additional medical related duties

Nature of the Work 

The nature of the job is almost identical to that of a standard physician, except for the overall environment. Instead of working with patients who go home, the correctional medicine physician works with patients who stay on site until their release. Additionally, many in the field will need to stay current on all rules and regulations for medication administration, tool management, and more. Failure to follow strict guidelines could lead to security threats and as such those working in this field need to not only practice all medical procedures properly, but consider the security risks as well.

Those who work as correctional medicine physicians may operate full time in a large prison while others could still maintain a private practice, only have a contract with the prison – thus visiting it on a periodic basis.

Education and Training

In order to become a correctional medicine physician, you need to become a medical doctor. This is done by completing medical school and earning an MD or DO degree. Training will involve several years of school, with the final two years of medical school spent working under the supervision of a physician in a clinical setting. This residency allows you to develop real skills in a real life setting that will then be carried over into your career.

As for entering the field of correctional medicine, in most cases employers will only require that you be licensed to practice medicine in the state you live in and will be working in. Experience in the correctional field or a similar area of study may be preferred, but not required.

You’ll want to ensure that you are detail oriented, have strong levels of compassion, and that you pay close attention to detail in order to become a physician.

?While correctional medicine physicians aren’t listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians in general are expected to enjoy a 19% job growth over the next decade. Also, their average annual salary is about $187,200. By working in a correctional facility, you will enjoy additional benefits that are often related to government based jobs, further improving the level of benefits you receive as a physician.


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