Tashima Lambert

Bureau of Prisons Intern
Temple University, Medical School

After joining the National Health Service Corps, I learned about the possibility of fulfilling my commitment within the federal prison system. Upon contacting my NHSC Regional Office, I learned about the Federal Correctional Complex-Butner, NC, and was able to rotate during my 4th year of medical school in this unique correctional environment.

My experience at the FCC-Butner, NC, was by far the most educational of all my medical school rotations! There is so much medicine within this population to fulfill the most intellectually curious medical professional. The pathology is astonishing! The subset of individuals within the correctional system offers a dynamic mix of medical concerns. These individuals are of varying ages, ethnicities, geographic locations, and socioeconomic statuses. These variations all come together to offer an amazingly diverse patient base. I was able to manage bread-and-butter internal medicine cases, yet I was able to see diseases so advanced and diseases so rare I would never have seen outside of this setting. I was given the opportunity to take part in hands-on procedures, to manage my own patients, and to work with attendings that were so excited to have me on their teams. I was able to work in very integrative teams consisting of psychologist, psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, nurses, lawyers, and physicians. I learned something new everyday, both on a medical and a psychosocial level.

Of course, practicing within a prison system brought its very own challenges. But I was pleased to find the quality of care was comparable to what I have experienced in the free world. I was pleased to learn that the misconception of how unpleasant working within prison walls might be like, is surely just a misconception. Not one moment did I feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unsafe. Every member of this facility, from warden to inmate was welcoming, respectful, and appreciative of me choosing to rotate there. This experience has reaffirmed my desire to someday work within the prison system. I hope others will see how amazingly unique and satisfying a career in correctional medicine.

Tashima Lambert