Fascinated by the Intersection of Ethics, Public Health, and Public Safety, Robin Belcher-Timme, PsyD, CCHP-MH, Earns CCHP-A
In his first job, Dr. Robin Belcher-Timme taught English at a public high school in the Bronx. Eventually, he became a dean and worked closely with at-risk youth. He recalls, “I found myself navigating between law and psychology and collaborating with students, counselors, educators, police, and family members. This was how I found my passion for working with the justice-involved population, realizing human potential and recognizing the power and inertia of large systems colliding.”
This year, Dr. Timme achieved the pinnacle credential for correctional health care, receiving his CCHP-Advanced in April. He credits NCCHC, saying, “NCCHC has emerged as the flag-bearer for correctional health care across the country, contributing to a threshold from which innovation and improved patient care can launch. Much of my work today is rooted in the triple aim of healthcare: to improve quality of care; to reduce costs of care; and to improve the patient’s experience of that care. Bringing this philosophy to correctional health care allows us as professionals to elevate what it means to deliver and receive health care in settings of confinement, and to influence policy and practice that change how care is delivered. We literally saves lives.”
When he returned to graduate school, he gravitated toward the most challenging populations: those with serious mental illnesses, co-occurring disorders, personality disorders, and people living on the fringes of society. That passion led him to jails and prisons because, as he says, “Let’s face it, that’s where our patients are today.”
After receiving his PsyD from Widener University in 2011, he started work as a staff psychologist at a busy urban jail in Delaware. His work there included triaging patients in booking and receiving and managing psychiatric emergencies at the front door of the facility. Other responsibilities included seeing patients for mental status examinations and suicide risk assessments; drafting withdrawal management protocols; collaborating on comorbid medical issues, and consulting with psychiatry, medical, custody, pharmacy, courts, probation, families, and many other entities. He recalls, “I was again working at the intersection of two massive systems — public health and public safety — and again witnessing the power and inertia of massive systems colliding.
“When you work at that intersection, graduate-level ethical dilemmas become daily decisions. Fundamentally, we are talking about human beings keeping other human beings captive against their will, a philosophical paradox antithetical to our ethical principles as health care professionals. Issues around dual loyalty and commitment to non-maleficence often left me feeling anxious about the complex clinical presentations manifesting within these settings. The unique clinical presentations in jails and prisons lead to moments of anxious clinical judgment — fascinating, sometimes terrifying, but critically important to the effective delivery of care in settings of confinement. I hungered for knowledge, confirmation of my decision-making processes, and a community of like-minded professionals who were committed to bringing light into the darkest places.”
He found support and a professional community through NCCHC, obtaining his CCHP in 2013, CCHP-MH in 2015, and in 2022, the CCHP-A. Dr. Timme now works as a senior expert and vice president with Falcon Correctional and Community Services, Inc. He is dedicated to helping systems and facilities raise the bar on how justice and health care are delivered, grounded in best practices.
Dr. Timme will present three difference sessions at the NCCHC Correctional Mental Health and National Conferences in 2022. “I am humbled to join the ranks of those holding the CCHP-A credential, sharing this honor with some of the most important thought leaders in the field. I look forward to continuing to gain and share knowledge within this community, and to creating opportunities for innovation at a very exciting time in the field of correctional health care,” he said.
For more information on becoming a CCHP-A, visit www.ncchc.org/cchp-a.