Careers in Correctional Health Care
Working in Correctional Health Care: Surprisingly Interesting, Challenging, and Rewarding
Providing mental or medical health care in a jail or prison may seem like a strange path for your career. The thousands of people who work in correctional health care are dedicated professionals who care for an underserved population. They care for people who may never have had access to care prior to incarceration and are making a difference every day.
Learn Why You Might Have a Place in Correctional Health Care
Serving the Underserved
Many incarcerated individuals have not had access to health care. You will see complex cases, conditions that have gone untreated, and complications from substance use and mental illness. There are close to two million incarcerated people in the United States and 7 million enter jail annually. You have the opportunity to provide meaningful, evidence-based care that is sorely needed.
As a medical or nursing professional in the community, your patients and their concerns may start to seem repetitive. In correctional health care, you will see patients of all ages with multiple health problems that need to be managed simultaneously. In one facility, you will use many skills (from chronic care to trauma/triage) and have exposure to almost every specialty. Your diagnosis, assessment, and critical thinking skills are critical to determine the best course of treatment and how to prioritize competing needs.
Make a Difference in Your Community
When compared to the general population, people who are incarcerated are more likely to have high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, arthritis, and infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and HIV. You will help stabilize these patients and connect them to treatment in the community upon discharge, possibly changing health outcomes for the rest of their lives.
No Insurance Companies
Many physicians and clinicians are exhausted by negotiating with insurance companies for care their patients need and burned out by the paperwork. While jails and prisons have formularies, there is only one set of guidelines. In addition, specialty care can be negotiated with facility leaders based on medical need.
Many incarcerated patients have never been taught healthy habits or learned positive ways to cope with stress. As a clinician, or just as a positive role model, you will help these individuals take responsibility for themselves and their health. Most are highly appreciative of your work, and you’ll be able to track their progress.
Each day in corrections, you’ll work with a multidisciplinary team. Larger facilities have a variety of needs and career advancement, even at a lower level of experience, is a real possibility. Whether you are looking to advance in health care leadership or clinical operations, there is a space and path for you.
How to Get Started
A quick internet search for correctional health careers will reveal the many companies and agencies recruiting for full-time positions, as well as staffing companies offering long-term and short-term assignments.
Become a Certified Correctional Health Professional
The CCHP credential shows your mastery of NCCHC standards and your ability to apply them to support the quality of patient care. It’s a signal to the field that you are committed to correctional health care as a career. You’ll gain credibility with colleagues with this tangible evidence of your expertise. Learn More