What made you decide to go into corrections?

After completing my Internal Medicine residency, I joined a prominent group practice, which was approached with an opportunity to provide part-time outpatient services at the state women’s prison as a subcontractor. After a year of providing those services, both the Department and the healthcare vendor offered me the opportunity to become a site medical director. In turn, I carefully reviewed the pros and cons as this change would be a major career shift. On my list of pros was the fact that I was making a difference to my community while being able to practice Medicine and Population Health without the hassles in the Free World. In addition, I would have a much better balance of work and home life. The icing on the cake was the fact that the Department allowed me to continue to be a Clinical Instructor with the state medical school so that my medical students had opportunities to be exposed to Correctional Medicine.

How long have you been in corrections?

I’ve been in Corrections for nearly 20 years now. Most of my career was spent engaged in direct clinical care with the last several years spent transitioning to a more administrative and operational role that includes mentoring.

Why do you think it’s important to be an Academy member?

To be frank, I was providing care at the women’s prison for three years before I learned about NCCHC and the Academy. My then-Health Services Administrator asked that I be a co-presenter with her at the NCCHC Conference in New Orleans (the year before Hurricane Katrina). I gratefully agreed and our presentation was very well received. At the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal to discuss Women’s Health in Corrections as I was delivering care as I would in the Free World. After my presentation, I was approached by many of the prominent leaders of Correctional Health and was welcomed at both the Society of Correctional Physicians (SCP), now called the American College of Correctional Physicians, and the Academy. If it were not for the individuals in these two organizations, I wouldn’t be where I am today, overseeing all clinical operations at Centurion Health, one of the finest organizations in providing quality care.

The network and mentoring I received from fellow Academy and SCP members were key drivers in solidifying my passion for advancing and legitimizing Correctional Medicine. I always felt welcomed by the leaders of the Academy; at the same time, their passion fueled my passion. What’s great about the Academy is that members from various regions and organizations are willing to let down those guardrails and freely talk about ways to help each other; they do not withhold knowledge or solutions as we have all had the same struggles and challenges in our jobs.

What do you see for the future of correctional health care and the importance of a correctional source like ACHP?

Given the recent attention paid to correctional health care as part of Public Health, the Academy needs to harness that momentum with more outreach to attract new members. Correctional Health Care will always be needed as the United States still has nearly 2.4 million incarcerated individuals. The Academy needs to help evolve its members to be leaders and to advocate for quality care. There just isn’t another organization that allows for an open membership without restriction of certification or training to bring everyone together to network and learn from each other.