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BEARING CARING BEHIND BARS:  Community of Practice Series for Nurses Working in Correctional Health Settings

BEARING CARING BEHIND BARS:  Community of Practice Series for Nurses Working in Correctional Health Settings

Caring for inmates with chronic health needs who may also act violently or have experienced trauma in their lives can threaten an individual’s sense of safety, hope, integrity, competence, and purpose. The stress of working in a correctional setting is under-recognized and can be insidious, affecting individuals psychologically, physically and interpersonally. It may result from a one-time encounter  or cumulative exposure to inmates’ traumas over years of working in prisons. The COVID-19 epidemic and outbreaks within facilities and communities may create additional stress and trauma.

Working in these settings can be overwhelming, leading to burn out, attention errors and increases in work absence. Outside of work, chronic stress and secondary trauma can lead to strained relationships, increased substance use, apathy and even clinically significant mental health conditions.

Self-care and focusing on the good are often the first things to get neglected when we are stressed. Healthcare clinicians and other caregivers are prone to putting themselves on the back burner in the service of caring for others. Self-neglect results in poor health, poor job performance and damaged relationships.

Until we are able to address our own needs, we cannot effectively address the needs of others.

The Mountain West AETC will host a monthly open Community of Practice for Corrections Nurses on stress reduction and wellness. Topics will include focus on self-care and improved wellness by providing education and skills related to:

  • Mindful self-awareness
  • Stress and stress reduction
  • Personal strengths
  • Whole-being wellness – SPIRE model
  • Acceptance and change
  • Self-care

Moderated by:

Dr. Sharen Barboza is a clinical and consulting psychologist who has worked in the field of correctional mental health for over 20 years. She is a monitor, consultant, trainer and speaker with expertise in mental health, crisis management, self-injury reduction and trauma-informed care. Dr. Barboza presents nationally and internationally on stress management and self-care for custody and healthcare staff. She has published research related to suicide risk factors, dementia, interventions in restrictive housing and reducing self-injury. She holds an M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Tufts University; a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and she is certified in Wholebeing Positive Psychology.

FREE 4-session Community of Practice

2nd Wednesday of the month December-March 

Pre-registration required; Attend sessions as you are able

Session Dates:

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2020

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021




The MWAETC is dedicated to the training needs of health care providers in the correctional setting. Our program offers a variety of training opportunities specific to correctional staff members:

  • Didactic seminars and lectures
  • On-line video trainings
  • Preceptorship program for medical providers
  • Clinical consultation
  • Technical assistance

Please contact Lara Strick for more information.

Corrections Preceptorship
Corrections Preceptorship

This two-day educational program is a prison-based preceptorship for health care providers working in corrections. Preceptees will observe and work with an HIV expert preceptor in a Washington State prison for one day and then spend one day in a large urban HIV clinic. Preceptorships will be designed to meet the specific needs of individual trainees based on their current level of experience and practice settings. Preceptors will focus on the care and treatment patients with HIV infection within the context of a comprehensive, continuum of care model.  A combination of didactic and experiential instruction will include: HIV risk assessment, HIV testing strategies, diagnosis of primary HIV and opportunistic infections, therapeutic interventions (i.e., drug treatment regimens including managing side effects, salvage therapies, and adherence strategies), release planning, treatment as prevention, and confidentiality. Instruction will also include strategies for effectively addressing patients' psychosocial needs related to mental health and substance use disorders.  Preceptees will observe at least four workups with patients being treated for HIV infection.

Continuing education credits are available as well.

For more information please see our Corrections Preceptorship page.

Corrections Resources
Corrections Resources

The following is a collection of resources on a broad range of HIV-related topics specific to working with individuals in the corrections setting who are infected with HIV or are at risk for the acquisition or transmission of HIV.