What made you decide to go into corrections? 

Like many of my colleagues in correctional healthcare, I stumbled upon it quite by accident (or perhaps, fate was at work!). I was attending my nephew’s graduation from the CT DOC Officer’s Academy and the keynote speaker was the Associate Commissioner for the Health Services at the DOC.  She had oversight for the correctional health program and spoke about the services that were provided. Until that day, I had never even thought about the provision of healthcare in correctional facilities. A little later, I saw an advertisement for a Health Services Administrator for one of the facilities and applied. Coincidentally (or not…?), the person who interviewed me was that same Associate Commissioner for Health Services. I told her that she was the reason I was there to interview, and she told me that working in the correctional setting was something you will either love or hate, and you will know right away. She was right! Twenty-eight years later I am still involved in correctional healthcare, and we are still friends.   

The weekly published e-newsletter, the Academy Insider, often uses articles from your blog. Can you tell us more about CorrectionalNurse.net? 

I am so proud of the information I share on CorrectionalNurse.Net and greatly appreciate it when one of my posts is used/referenced by other organizations, but I cannot take credit for its inception. Originally my colleague and friend Lorry Schoenly began CorrectionalNurse.Net. When she decided to retire in 2019, I took over the writing and the administration of the site. At the time, I had a correctional nursing site called Nursing Behind the Wall, so I changed the format slightly and I continue to offer clinical scenarios with which correctional nurses can practice clinical judgment. I try to post at least weekly on the CorrectionalNurse.Net blog and post one clinical scenario each month. I also integrate much information from the correctional nursing classes at The Correctional Nurse Educator in the posts on both CorrectionalNurse.Net and Nursing Behind the Wall.    

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

Being a member of the Academy of Correctional Health Professionals allows me to demonstrate professionalism. It indicates that I am serious about my chosen profession (which I definitely am!).  Membership in the Academy affords networking opportunities that one otherwise would not have. This is especially important when working as we do in such a specialized area as correctional healthcare; more likely than not our colleagues in the greater healthcare and nursing communities, although wanting to be supportive, would have little understanding of the environmental constraints that are impactful on our ability to provide quality healthcare to our patients. Our colleagues from the Academy would understand and may even have a solution to the issue we are facing! Membership in the Academy also gives discounts on educational activities and affords the opportunity for recognition in our field.    

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

The future of correctional healthcare is multi-faceted, but I think the most important aspect is recognition as a specialty in the greater healthcare and nursing communities.  With that recognition will come respect for the work that we do.  The Academy, and other correctional organizations like the American Correctional Nurses Association and the American College of Correctional Physicians, have great opportunity at this time in our history to impact the future.  The Academy and these organizations must be leaders in advocacy for correctional healthcare and supportive to everyone that works in correctional healthcare.  They must be vocal and educate the public about the important work we do.  Overall, I believe it is an exciting time to have a career in correctional health! ​