This is another in a series of profiles of health care professionals who have benefited from the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program (MLRP). The MLRP works to increase access to comprehensive primary care in underserved areas, by providing up to $50,000 towards outstanding educational loans for health professionals who commit to work at an eligible health care organization for two full-time years.
Today we are profiling Julie Bean, a nurse practitioner (NP) at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Framingham (MCIF), the oldest currently operating female correctional institution in Massachusetts.
Together with the other clinicians at MCIF, Julie is responsible for the health care of 600 incarcerated women. Julie is a primary care provider in the ambulatory care clinic at MCIF, where she provides primary care services, treats chronic conditions, and responds to acute and urgent illnesses.
It’s all in a day’s work for Julie and her team. “In the clinic,” she says, “we provide annual physicals, breast and pelvic exams, as well as recurring physical exams and follow-up visits related to chronic issues such as HCV, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or HIV.” In addition to providing routine screenings and disease management, Julie also shares an obstetrician (OB) position with another nurse practitioner.
One challenge – and opportunity – which Julie faces working at a correctional facility is her patients’ lack of medical care prior to incarceration. Most of these patients did not have a primary care provider and so didn’t receive recommended screenings or preventive treatments. Many suffer from a multitude of diseases and co-morbidities. “We are able to really start ‘fresh’ with these women,” Julie told us, “and have the opportunity to provide not only excellent medical care, but also a great deal of health education.”
Although she had never worked with an underserved population prior to her time at MCIF, Julie has enjoyed the past two and a half years at the facility. ”My colleagues help to make what can be difficult work rewarding,” she said.” It’s really a blessing to work with providers who are committed to serving underserved women in this type of setting.”
Julie learned of the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program from another Nurse Practitioner at MCIF, who encouraged Julie to investigate whether she might be eligible. Julie determined that her profession and work site qualified for the MLRP, so she decided to apply —and she hasn’t looked back.
Participation in the loan repayment program has allowed Julie to concentrate on her patients and their unmet health needs. In addition, she no longer has to worry about her student loan debt. As Julie tells us, “the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program has given me a sigh of relief.”