Meet Jack Coughlin, Psychiatric RN

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

In the second part of our series to introduce PsychCoverage and the novel services we provide, we’ll meet founder Jack Coughlin, RN, and discover how he decided to begin his unique business.

Hi, I’m Jack.

I’m a Registered Nurse. I became a Psychiatric Nurse in 1985 after completing my education at Hahnemann University and Temple in Philadelphia, and started my career in California in 1992. Since the early 2000s I have been working for a company called Status One, a cutting-edge management operation helping to pioneer disease management. Now it’s a trend in healthcare, but back then it was a novel idea. Part of my job was giving leadership training and care management training, focusing on mental health and teaching non-psychiatric nurses how to assess patients for risk, especially those who may be depressed or suicidal.

But on the side, my wife and I were covering for a local psychiatric practice part-time, taking on weekend calls. When their offices closed Friday evening, they forwarded any phone calls to us. After a while I realized we were really doing disease management for depression. Then we started to get phone calls from other psychiatrists who were interested in us covering for their practices, too. Now we’re covering for psychiatrists across California, and hopefully next year we’ll be providing these services to practices in Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

There currently is no other service that psychiatrists can rely on when they want a little break, or at least some separation between practice and home life. It’s well documented that the inability to get away from their practice has been a significant contributor to burnout, which is prevalent throughout the profession. Giving psychiatrists this break helps them with face-to-face patient care.

The number one service we provide is to psychiatrists, and that’s peace of mind. Patients may never call over the weekend but a psychiatrist has to always be available no matter what. Obviously this is mentally draining. We exist so the doctor never has to worry on the weekends about what he or she might miss because of a call. The other service we provide is to the patients, and that’s experienced, professional phone triage. The vast majority of our calls are from patients who are worried about their medication or who just need someone to talk to. We’ll give them more education on their medication and side effects and help them understand the recovery process a little better. We’re an extension of their doctor’s office that just happens to be available any time their doctor isn’t.

I’m able to do this because, and this may sound cliche, it really doesn’t feel like work to me. Whenever I get a call I just sit down and never feel like I have to cut it short or give a patient less than my full attention or a full response, even when the call comes at an inconvenient time. I just really love what I do. I do have other psychiatric nurses working for me now, but even if I didn’t I don’t see myself ever not doing this. And that is what keeps me going and keeps me excited about introducing this new field to other psychiatrists and really helping everyone to do what they do best.

You can read more about my practice, PsychCoverage, Inc., here, or visit our website to learn more about our psychiatric coverage services.