Amelia Bailey, a master’s of public health student working under the supervision of associate professor of health promotion and policy Elizabeth Evans, has been selected for the Justice Community Opioid Intervention Network (JCOIN) Learning Experiences to Advance Practice (LEAP) Scholars Program. The yearlong research education program is intended to support academics, clinicians, criminologists and community stakeholders on research in justice settings.
A New England Public Health Training Center Health Equity Internship award recipient, Bailey has been helping to implement the Holyoke Early Access to Recovery and Treatment (HEART) program in the Holyoke District Court. The program – administered by the Honorable Judge William Hadley in collaboration with Evans and her team of student interns – is designed to provide access to healthcare for individuals with an opioid use disorder who come before the court.
“Upon hearing that I was selected for the JCOIN LEAP Scholars program, I felt very fortunate for my previous experiences and excited for my upcoming opportunities,” says Bailey. “A unique component of the program is the ability to collaborate with Scholars in early stages of their career, like myself, and professionals who are well-established in their field. I look forward to forming connections with more professionals across the fields of academia, public health, and criminal justice.”
“Amelia is an excellent choice for this opportunity,” says Evans. “She is adept at collaborating with community partners in criminal justice settings to implement innovative public health programming. Moreover, Amelia’s commitment to health equity combined with her real-world experiences in addressing the opioid epidemic have positioned her to lead research that will improve healthcare practice and policy.”
Two community members who are partnered with Evans will join Bailey in the 2021-22 JCOIN LEAP Scholars cohort: Pryce Michener, a Mass JCOIN scholar and medical student at UMass Medical School and Baystate Health, and Levin Schwartz, a licensed clinical social worker and community-based research partner at Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
A key part of the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, JCOIN is an ambitious, $155 million program which aims to improve opioid addiction treatment in criminal justice settings. Evans is the co-principal investigator of a $10 million JCOIN research project examining a pilot opioid treatment program for jail detainees in seven Massachusetts counties. She is among the dozens of researchers nationwide who are examining the impact of evidence-based medications for opioid use disorder, behavioral interventions, digital therapeutics and patient-centered treatments.
The LEAP program is part of a greater effort to support research education and capacity building via the JCOIN Coordination and Translation Center. JCOIN LEAP Scholars will examine the conduct of research in justice settings, focusing on formulating research questions, understanding elements of research design, ethical issues concerning research in justice settings, and collaborator roles to ground and translate the conduct of research in justice settings. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in research knowledge and skill workshops, networking and mentoring, and they will be encouraged to develop a research talk or poster for presentation at a peer-reviewed research conference. The scholars will receive funding to support attendance at research meetings as well as the Academic and Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health.
“After completing my master of public health degree, I hope to enter a doctoral program,” says Bailey. “The connections that I form with the LEAP Scholars program will widen my net of support and knowledge as I continue my education and future research.