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Joelseff

Anyone work in prisons system?

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I have been practicing pretty much Primary Care since I graduated. Current job pays really well and I have a sweet schedule (4 days a week weds off) but only have a 401k. They match my contribution up to 7%

 

I'm middle aged and have really started thinking about retirement (as well as my mortality which I suppose is normal at my age lol). The 401k and my other retirement accounts will likely give me some money for retirement but with SS not being a certainty and the rising costs of living in my area, I am unsure if retirement will be as good as I hope it will be.

 

I have been thinking about finding a job with a pension plan. Only jobs I have found near me with pensions are Kaiser or the prisons system. County has a pension plan but only hires NPs (What's up wid Dat?) California has a bunch of PA jobs in the prisons and have pensions and 401k. Pension vests in 5 years but it would be a huge pay cut and well... I'd have to work in the prison, so there's that... Anyone work in prisons? What's it like?

 

Any input appreciated.

 

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I considered doing the same.  Feedback from employees within the prison system (mostly nurses) is that providers are extremely understaffed.  They work very long/hard hours on a salary which is much lower than you would make outside of a state position/job.  I am not sure if these positions are overtime eligible or not.  

 

A pension  would be nice, but those who I spoke with said... "Run and don't look back."

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Joel,  401 match of up to 7%???  You must be young and don't realize how much money that could be when you retire not to mention 4 day work week.  Put crazy glue on your but and stay there!!

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I work in the local jail

200-300 adult inmates

lots of interesting folks

 

we are one of 300 triple certificate facilities in the entire country (out of about 4500 facilities)

 

The struggles are real - having to fit in a secure environment is tough at times, security runs all.

Slowly they are realizing that medical goes through me (Medical Director just does supervision no patient contact) and after almost 4 years it is coming around.

Not for the new grad, not for someone that can't take an order, 

 

BUT the pluses - they let me practice the way I want (I follow the formulary, have the lowest pharmacy expense in state, and am okay telling the inmates "no" for stupid things)  I can refer out when needed but manage A LOT of stuff with out - never do I send out for simple proteinuria and htn, manage almost all DM - (have sent one out in 4 years), manage a lot of ortho myself (amazing what time and rest heals) and most of the pulm (only end stage COPD'ers go out - NOT a new grad setting....

Retirement vests in 10 years and I am a group group 2 (direct care and custody of inmates) and therefor get an extra 5 years of service added onto my time.  I have 4 years of military time I am buying back as well

I am on call 24x7x345 (vacation sucks at 2 weeks, going to 3 at 4.5 years) and at times the call is nothing, other times it is tough

 

BUT I have a 20 hr commitment, work 3 days, and get paid as a physician (not salary, hourly and they hound me on my hours - which is fine cause I hate working for free and I function EXACTLY as the doc - I run the show)

 

So after 12 years (vest at 1/2 time for 20 hours per week, but 4 years military buy back and 10 years to vest) I am pension eligible and will have credit for 15 years - by my calculations I will get just over 30k/year from pension at that time.  Plus supplemental insurance till I die (or full insurance if age <65)

 

So my 1.5-2m in savings, and 32k per year, with free insurance is worth it (I think....)

 

 

***I have heard horror stories about jobs in BOP or other state systems so make sure you know what you are getting into for facility.

Also - VA pay sucks so don't bother

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Joel,  401 match of up to 7%???  You must be young and don't realize how much money that could be when you retire not to mention 4 day work week.  Put crazy glue on your but and stay there!!
I know my current gig is pretty sweet. I'm not young and am started retirement savings 4 yrs ago because before that I worked private practices with no retirement but my own IRA. This why I was looking into a pension job.

I also am looking at Kaiser but most of their positions are in Surgery though I saw one posting in Neuro and one in ER. The ER gig is the next town over and is 3x10 (Sat, Mon Tue/Sun, Wed Thurs) and pays about what I make but they offer a pension and a 401k. So I'm gonna check them out.

I like my job but gotta be strategic about retirement IMO.

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As an alternative to a pension, I think you can convert your 401k savings to an annuity on retirement, that will give you a fixed income for the rest of your days, if that is the kind of arrangement you are seeking.

Many (but not all) jobs with pensions make you 'pay' for it in some other way - reduced salary, more bureaucracy, less-nice working conditions. The competitive market really does work.

So essentially my advice is, if financial considerations are driving your decision to leave a job you like (and 7% match on 401k is very very good actually), maybe you could consult a financial advisor to explore your options, before you make a move. (fee-for-service advisor preferred over commission-based)

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Pensions are nice.  I have one that’ll pay out over $3500/mo. (county), another that will be in place 9/20 for about $1K/mo. after five years service (local ISD), and I’ll collect full SSI since I have enough qualifying work years to not decrease my SSI due to my state teacher’s retirement.  Without any IRA funds (I do have same) I’m looking at ~$6K/mo. alone and I own my home and have no debt.  This doesn’t include my wife’s SSI and her pension as a college professor.  She also has IRA’s as well.

For those of us nearing retirement age (born 50’s/60’s), I don’t think we have to worry about SSI.

Edited by GetMeOuttaThisMess
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6 hours ago, TWR said:

butt

without having read your first post, this made me spit out my drink on my screen...thank you, I needed a good laugh

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In response to OP - my thought process is different than yours given that I am 29 - but will give my $0.02 anyway.

I like to have control of my finances.  When I calculate what I need for retirement, I ignore SSI completely because I don't feel like I can, or should, count on the government.  The same goes for pensions.  I was a teacher before returning to school to become a PA, and again I calculated retirement costs ignoring my potential teacher pension.

Pensions are nice, but just look at the news over the last 10-20 years.  So many companies that provided pensions that have collapsed leaving retirees in the lurch, SSI is on its way to becoming either defunct or significant changes, state governments slashing teacher pensions left and right because the lawmakers stole money from the coffers.

I did my student teaching in IL and there were lawsuits being filed almost daily regarding the deficits in the state budget and the government wanting to change pension payments.  My collaborating teacher was ready to retire 3-4 years after I worked with him and current pension plan should have paid him $110,000 annually.  The proposed plan would have cut his payments to $56,000 annually.  Ignoring whether a teacher should be making $100k+, it is criminal to change someone's retirement like that.  All of a sudden he has to keep working because the state is changing the rules.

My father is retired army.  He receives a full pension from them, but ever since he retired the amount of pension he receives has decreased and his healthcare premiums have increased (being Tricare his healthcare was supposed to be essentially free).  The exception is 2018, when President Trump gave a raise to military salaries and pensions (not a statement about Trump's abilities as our president, just that he signed the bill).

Therefore, as I stated above, I like to keep my financial future in my own hands - or at least as much as possible.  I currently utilize IRA, 401k, and index funds for excess investments.  I don't like that Wall Street has so much control of my financial future, therefore I am beginning the process of purchasing assets and using them to my advantage (lots of options here, most common is real estate).  I suggest you read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and decide how you want to control your financial future.  Just imagine owning 1-2 rental properties that provide $2,000 in profits per month.  That's not enough to retire on alone for most people, but that drastically changes the nest egg required when retirement comes.

I just did a very quick calculation using my numbers:

- Without $2000 monthly asset income I need just over $4.2 million for my nest egg

- With $2000 monthly asset income I need just less than $2.5 million for my nest egg

Those are drastically different numbers and have very different timelines.

Edited by mgriffiths

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As an alternative to a pension, I think you can convert your 401k savings to an annuity on retirement, that will give you a fixed income for the rest of your days, if that is the kind of arrangement you are seeking.

Many (but not all) jobs with pensions make you 'pay' for it in some other way - reduced salary, more bureaucracy, less-nice working conditions. The competitive market really does work.

So essentially my advice is, if financial considerations are driving your decision to leave a job you like (and 7% match on 401k is very very good actually), maybe you could consult a financial advisor to explore your options, before you make a move. (fee-for-service advisor preferred over commission-based)

Thanks I also have an annuity that I've had since my wife and I were married (20 yrs ago) but I'll look into other options with a financial advisor. Thanks again for the suggestion.

 

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In response to OP - my thought process is different than yours given that I am 29 - but will give my $0.02 anyway.
I like to have control of my finances.  When I calculate what I need for retirement, I ignore SSI completely because I don't feel like I can, or should, count on the government.  The same goes for pensions.  I was a teacher before returning to school to become a PA, and again I calculated retirement costs ignoring my potential teacher pension.
Pensions are nice, but just look at the news over the last 10-20 years.  So many companies that provided pensions that have collapsed leaving retirees in the lurch, SSI is on its way to becoming either defunct or significant changes, state governments slashing teacher pensions left and right because the lawmakers stole money from the coffers.
I did my student teaching in IL and there were lawsuits being filed almost daily regarding the deficits in the state budget and the government wanting to change pension payments.  My collaborating teacher was ready to retire 3-4 years after I worked with him and current pension plan should have paid him $110,000 annually.  The proposed plan would have cut his payments to $56,000 annually.  Ignoring whether a teacher should be making $100k+, it is criminal to change someone's retirement like that.  All of a sudden he has to keep working because the state is changing the rules.
My father is retired army.  He receives a full pension from them, but ever since he retired the amount of pension he receives has decreased and his healthcare premiums have increased (being Tricare his healthcare was supposed to be essentially free).  The exception is 2018, when President Trump gave a raise to military salaries and pensions (not a statement about Trump's abilities as our president, just that he signed the bill).
Therefore, as I stated above, I like to keep my financial future in my own hands - or at least as much as possible.  I currently utilize IRA, 401k, and index funds for excess investments.  I don't like that Wall Street has so much control of my financial future, therefore I am beginning the process of purchasing assets and using them to my advantage (lots of options here, most common is real estate).  I suggest you read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and decide how you want to control your financial future.  Just imagine owning 1-2 rental properties that provide $2,000 in profits per month.  That's not enough to retire on alone for most people, but that drastically changes the nest egg required when retirement comes.
I just did a very quick calculation using my numbers:
- Without $2000 monthly asset income I need just over $4.2 million for my nest egg
- With $2000 monthly asset income I need just less than $2.5 million for my nest egg
Those are drastically different numbers and have very different timelines.
Thanks for the input. I have other accounts as well, (IRA, 403b and annuity). I just wanted some "guaranteed" (I know nothing is guaranteed) passive income in my twilight years.

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I worked for KP for 13 years(8.5 full time and the rest part time and per diem) and have a pension from them when I retire. That being said, I think your comparison to a prison system is a good one.....:) KP financially treats its PA/NP folks very well with great money, guaranteed yearly raises, sabbaticals, union benefits, etc. On the downside, autonomy and scope of practice are very site dependent. I worked at 3 sites for them and was only treated well at 1. They work you like a dog in primary care, urgent care, and em with patients stacked up to the rafters all day long. If you can stand it for 5-10 years it is a good gig financially. PM me if you have specific questions.

Of course you could always sell a few watches for income later in life.....:)

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I worked for KP for 13 years(8.5 full time and the rest part time and per diem) and have a pension from them when I retire. That being said, I think your comparison to a prison system is a good one.....:) KP financially treats its PA/NP folks very well with great money, guaranteed yearly raises, sabbaticals, union benefits, etc. On the downside, autonomy and scope of practice are very site dependent. I worked at 3 sites for them and was only treated well at 1. They work you like a dog in primary care, urgent care, and em with patients stacked up to the rafters all day long. If you can stand it for 5-10 years it is a good gig financially. PM me if you have specific questions.
Of course you could always sell a few watches for income later in life.....:)
Hahaha the watches stay! Hahahah

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I am not a PA. However, I am a nurse working in a prison system. Every system will be different, so I can only speak to the one I work in.

We have extremely high turnover rates of all staff, from custody, to nursing, to providers. This causes a lot of mistakes. Medications may not be renewed on time so the offender calls home to their mom, who in turn calls management and threatens to sue.

You will have to be comfortable practicing within parameters set forth by "the powers that be" in corporate. As ventana stated, you have to go by the formulary for the most part. There are also plenty of orders to keep track of that don't exist "on the streets" (prison slang for outside prison). Lay-ins are custody's way of knowing whether an offender can have special accomodations. Offenders who have seizure disorders can't sleep on the top bunk. This is a lay-in that must be signed off on by a provider. Let's say you feel an offender needs to rest for a few days due to an injury. You have to put a lay-in in the system. Otherwise custody will make them go to work or school. It's a completely different way of practicing. 

You want to do a punch biopsy? Need scissors? They're all locked up and you probably won't have the key. 

You will have learn which meds are "watch take" (given at the window by a nurse) and which ones they can keep with them because it will have to be part of your order. You have to know which meds are stock and which are patient specific. This will also be part of your order. 

Your schedule will revolve around custody. Offenders get locked down for count at certain times. Some offenders are separated from the general population so those appointments have to be kept separate. 

These are just a few of the less obvious frustrations of working in prisons. That's not to say they're not manageable. It's a big learning curve, but it's actually also an interesting environment to work in. I personally wouldn't recommend working in a prison environment simply for money or benefits. If you are interested in the challenge or want to help people who most others would brush aside, then it may be a good fit for you. There's no harm in getting more information if you're looking for a change. But it is obviously a high stress environment with a high patient load. 

Just my 0.02 from a non-PA.

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7% match ?!  

 

The way I see it, pensions can run out of funding and are higher risk than a 401k (long-term) investment that is going directly into your account.  Company I work for (KP) offers a pension, but I am 30 years out until retirement and am not planning my retirement (or SS for that matter) on being available when I retire.

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7% match ?!  
 
The way I see it, pensions can run out of funding and are higher risk than a 401k (long-term) investment that is going directly into your account.  Company I work for (KP) offers a pension, but I am 30 years out until retirement and am not planning my retirement (or SS for that matter) on being available when I retire.
I hear ya but I would have both a 401k and a pension as well as other accounts.

After looking at the options before me, (KP, Prison System, Sutter, UC) I think there are a lot of pros and cons but overall I don't think some of the pros (pensions) outweigh the cons (schedule, starting over in a new practice/system, bodily harm )

For now I'll stay put but always have my eyes peeled for opportunities.

Thanks for the input y'alls

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On 7/19/2018 at 12:30 AM, Joelseff said:

 

I have been practicing pretty much Primary Care since I graduated. Current job pays really well and I have a sweet schedule (4 days a week weds off) but only have a 401k. They match my contribution up to 7%

 

I'm middle aged and have really started thinking about retirement (as well as my mortality which I suppose is normal at my age lol). The 401k and my other retirement accounts will likely give me some money for retirement but with SS not being a certainty and the rising costs of living in my area, I am unsure if retirement will be as good as I hope it will be.

 

I have been thinking about finding a job with a pension plan. Only jobs I have found near me with pensions are Kaiser or the prisons system. County has a pension plan but only hires NPs (What's up wid Dat?) California has a bunch of PA jobs in the prisons and have pensions and 401k. Pension vests in 5 years but it would be a huge pay cut and well... I'd have to work in the prison, so there's that... Anyone work in prisons? What's it like?

 

Any input appreciated.

 

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I worked in a state prison system in Pennsylvania. None of the providers were state employees. We worked for various companies contracted out from the state. 

 

The pay was abysmal, the benefits were awful...the medicine was actually fun. There is no argument with insurance companies... either the medicine is on the formulary or it isnt.  There is no imaging on site aside from plain film x ray, but the xray tech only came in a few days a week.

 

There is a lot of malignering for free OTC meds vs the inmates having to pay for them on commisary, but there is a nice range of real issues going on. 

 

I would have stayed, but the company was shady, and our facilities providers were seeing 5x more inmates than the other facilities, and I had friends in cheaper areas of the state, seeing less ppl, who made the exact same as I did. I actually talked to the owner of the company and basically went off on how horrible the pay was and told him the place could kiss my a**..... lol I didnt even know he was the owner, it was my last day.

 

after they refused to pay me, they are still paying for locums physician coverage daily at probably 3-5 x  I was requested. that was literally years ago

Edited by ravenspac

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I worked in a state prison system in Pennsylvania. None of the providers were state employees. We worked for various companies contracted out from the state. 
 
The pay was abysmal, the benefits were awful...the medicine was actually fun. There is no argument with insurance companies... either the medicine is on the formulary or it isnt.  There is no imaging on site aside from plain film x ray, but the xray tech only came in a few days a week.
 
There is a lot of malignering for free OTC meds vs the inmates having to pay for them on commisary, but there is a nice range of real issues going on. 
 
I would have stayed, but the company was shady, and our facilities providers were seeing 5x more inmates than the other facilities, and I had friends in cheaper areas of the state, seeing less ppl, who made the exact same as I did. I actually talked to the owner of the company and basically went off on how horrible the pay was and told him the place could kiss my a**..... lol I didnt even know he was the owner, it was my last day.
 
after they refused to pay me, they are still paying for locums physician coverage daily at probably 3-5 x  I was requested. that was literally years ago
Man that sucks. So yeah the prisons here are state and the pay sucks but Bennies are good. I decided to stay where I'm at and just put in more I my 403b and continue to max out my other investment accounts.

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