Correctional medicine has a long, complicated history that has resulted in a negative reputation of both the field and those who chose to practice it. For quite some time, physicians in correctional facilities have been viewed as physicians who were unable to secure an opportunity anywhere else, a view that has been compounded by states such as Texas that have allowed physicians who are otherwise unable to practice due to loss of license to practice medicine in the prison system. 

Because of this negative reputation, many correctional facilities have difficulty recruiting and retaining quality physicians. Some common misconceptions include:


  • Poor compensation packages
  • Unsafe workplace
  • Prevalence of malingering among patients
  • Lack of prestige


While these are commonly considered par for the course in correctional medicine among traditional physicians, these assumptions are, for the most part, incorrect. In order to recruit and retain high quality physicians for these positions, it is crucial for those recruiting for correctional medicine opportunities to address these misconceptions head on and aggressively market the many perks of practicing correctional medicine. 
In an article for the American College for Physicians Observer, a highly qualified physician with a history of prestigious teaching and research positions chose to practice medicine in a correctional facility because it offered him the opportunity to address all of his interests. Such opportunities and perks should be touted by recruiters for correctional facilities, along with:

  • Competitive guaranteed salaries with no productivity requirements
  • Malpractice Insurance coverage
  • The ability to care for and follow patients over long periods of time
  • Generally, no need to deal with insurance companies or managed care plans
  • The safety of having security with you during patient interaction if you so choose
  • Family friendly hours, often with little to no call (depending on the facility)
  • Knowing that the patients being treated would likely receive no care outside of the correctional facility

When looked at through this lens, correctional medicine provides physicians with the work-life balance they need to lead fulfilling lives and spend time with family, while also allowing them to purse professional passions without the pressures and uncertainty of the changing health care landscape. These physicians are able to concentrate on patient care, and are able to follow their patients over extended periods of time, something that not many traditional physicians can say.
As the benefits of correctional medicine continue to become more pronounced, the quality of physicians employed within the system will only improve – and the reputation of correctional medicine along with it. While physician recruitment for practice in correctional medicine continues to be difficult, it is imperative that prior to undertaking such a search, that the parties involved begin by creating a full picture of what the opportunity is offering and the type of candidate that is needed. By utilizing this profile, a seasoned recruiter is able to create a full candidate sourcing and opportunity marketing strategy that will allow the facility to source and hire a highly qualified physician to join their team.