megan evans, corrections officer

Corrections Officer – Megan Evans, COTA/L

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Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!

This week’s non-clinical spotlight features a COTA/L who now works as a Corrections Officer at a county prison!

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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Megan Evans, COTA/L – Corrections Officer at a county prison.

What additional roles do you currently have?

I also work per-diem as a COTA.

Where did you go to school to become a COTA, and what year did you graduate?

Jamestown Community College, 2009

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

I started out at a medical hospital in Erie, PA for 2 years.

In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I had decided that I wanted to be local, and worked part time at Chautauqua PT/OT in Jamestown, New York. I landed a full time position just 2 miles down the road at the Rouse. I initially worked in trauma ortho at Hamot and geriatric at Rouse.

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I truly enjoyed patient care, and watching the patients gain the skills I was giving them, along with the progression of carryover with continuum of care during their short stay.

What else have you done, prior to becoming a corrections officer?

After high school, I started out in factory work.

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

I felt like my facility was more interested in caseload numbers, rather than qualitative numbers, and I felt that treatment was not being followed through from other caregivers, for the same reasons. The people were there to get assistance, and I felt many balls were being dropped and no one was being held accountable for the deficit.

The therapy department was expected to fix the problem and make money for the facility at the same time, with no other department showing up for continuum of care.

What are you doing these days?

I am a trainer of new employees at the prison, and work per diem at the Rouse.

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

Yes, I still treat patients, per diem as a COTA.

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How long have you been in your current role?

I have been at the prison for almost 3 years.

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

Nothing extra to get in, but I have been tested thoroughly during my employment.

How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

I found the job on Facebook.

Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?

Thankfully, I did not have to change my resume.

What was the interview for a corrections officer like?

Interviewing with the warden was intense, but it went well.

What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?

I demonstrated my thorough organizational skills, holding people accountable for their actions or lack thereof, and demonstrated compassion for the mental health community.

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

I don’t feel I truly left patient care, but many peers have stated that this job definitely suits my demeanor.

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?

I practice custody care and control of a wide variety of mental health conditions and concerns. I ensure inmates are taken to appointments, and are present in required locations for court, meetings, and mental health needs. I typically work a rotating 12 hour schedule.

What are some of the rewards of your role?

Schedule flexibility and maintaining a healthy distance from care involvement.

How did your clinical background prepare you for being a corrections officer?

I feel college and patient care assisted in my professionalism of looking at mental health needs the same as physical health needs. It’s such an understatement to say that our health care system struggles to reach to their needs.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

I went up significantly with pay, and my schedule is better.

What type of person do you think would do well in your role?

You definitely need a thick skin to be a corrections officer. It’s also extremely beneficial to be an organized person.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

I do both, but mostly onsite.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles?

Not quite PT/OT/SLP, but this county prison hires a mental health specialist along with a mental health counselor.

Did you do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

I have had to demonstrate proper use of guns and non-lethal measures to assist in compliance.

What is a typical career path for someone in your role?

Deciding you either want law enforcement or mental health involvement in the beginning is helpful. I feel that knowing myself better and accepting my strengths helps others progress with life’s challenges.

What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

My next career advancement is becoming a sergeant, then lieutenant, deputy warden, and ultimately warden. However, I only have plans to work for 18 more years. I’m in no rush.

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?

Don’t be afraid of new challenges, and put yourself in uncomfortable positions to grow yourself. Finding out what your passions are is healthy in any direction.

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

The stigma of mental health in our small community is always a challenge. Knowing you are helping people achieve goals is important, but remember that the goals have to be self-directed to actually stick and become habit, for a better outcome.

What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?

Know your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t doubt yourself in pursuing what is going to make you happy.

What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?

Never shy away from challenges, even if you feel that it may take you away from where you started. I truly felt law enforcement and therapy would never connect, but they do!

Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?

Trust your intuition. Always!!!

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