Board Chair Pauline Marcussen: “Lifelong Learning Is for All of Us”
I am thrilled to take the helms of NCCHC’s board now, with our focus on promoting education and introducing students to correctional health care as a career. I am a huge believer in lifelong learning; I strongly believe this is the right direction for our organization and our field.
Education is for everyone and benefits everyone. I’ve always been that manager who encouraged the staff to take courses at the local community college because people have more opportunities for advancement when they engage in continuing education. That is also the reason I am such a strong advocate of the CCHP program.
About 15 years ago, I started teaching college courses to the incarcerated population. I taught workplace relationship skills, introduction to business, and business management. I found this work to be rewarding because the students were engaged, and they wanted to learn. For some, taking a college course was like a dream come true.
I still run into former students who remind me of the impact those courses had on them. The final project for my intro to business class was to write a business plan, from concept to financing to implementation. I always provided feedback on all assignments.
One of my students was so proud of his project that he sent it home to his mother to prove that he had actually taken a college course and that his professor wrote nice things about his work. He was so proud. That story and so many others are a reminder to me that education is for everyone.
The opportunities to learn are everywhere. Sometimes they are forced on us.
Over the past three years, we learned more than we ever wanted to about infection control, medical isolation and quarantine, and vaccine efficacy. We learned about working with a diminished staff, about doing less with more, about grief and resilience.
NCCHC, always the leader in correctional health care education, continued in that role throughout the pandemic. When it was hard to know who or what to believe, the field turned to NCCHC for the latest information, reliable guidance, and expertise.
That is still true as we continue to learn more and prepare for what might come next, whether that is another public health crisis, a medical malpractice case, preventing suicides, or working with our juvenile population in a trauma-informed environment.
For me, it all comes back to education. I always tell my students: learn as much as you can, because no one can take that away from you.
Read a book, attend a lecture, listen to someone who is a subject matter expert. Find a mentor. Ask questions and be informed. It doesn’t have to be formal education leading to a degree, just day-to-day learning that builds and grows. Consider being a mentor for people starting out in the field. Be available to answer questions and share your experiences.
Lifelong learning is for all of us – direct caregivers, support staff, and those who are incarcerated. We are all in this together.
Pauline Marcussen, DHA, RHIA, CCHP, is the 2023 chair of NCCHC’s Governance Board and board liaison of the American Health Information Management Association.
At a Glance: Meet Pauline Marcussen
- Rhode Island Department of Corrections, health care services administrator, 2018-2022
- Rhode Island Department of Corrections, inter-departmental project manager, 1997-2018
- Southern New Hampshire University, adjunct faculty, 2014-present
- Community College of Rhode Island, adjunct faculty, 2008-present
- NCCHC Board of Representatives, 2010-present
- NCCHC board secretary, 2021
- CCHP Board of Trustees chair, 2020-2022, 2016-2017
- Juvenile health, education, policy and research committee member
- Doctorate in Health Administration (DHA), Medical University of South Carolina
- Master of Science, health services administration, Salve Regina University
- Bachelor of Science, health services administration, Providence College