Welcome to Compass Corner!
Let's get to know one of the Compass team's valuable members: Jennifer Toomey, Registered Psychiatric Nurse.
What is your role with the Compass team?
I work as a Nurse Clinician and spend most of my time triaging phone calls. On the phone, I provide indirect consultation as well as support, validation, resources and therapy interventions. My role is to gather information and then determine best next steps including consultation with one of our psychiatrists or other allied health professionals. Working in an interdisciplinary team, I participate on the consults with the psychiatrist by adding approaches that would go alongside their recommendations.
I also get to participate in educational activities such as webinars, videos and presentations.
My area of expertise is in youth concurrent disorders and at Compass I am able to support providers to ask about substance use. I also have the opportunity to share knowledge regarding the connection between substance use and mental health.
ADHD is another area I have a lot of experience in. In the last program I worked in, the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders program, (which has rolled in to the Compass) I saw many youth with untreated ADHD. Once the youth were treated for their ADHD and other mental health concerns, we saw a significant decrease in their substance use.
What drew you to working in the field of child and youth mental health (CYMH)?
Working with adults earlier on in my career, they would often tell me that if they learned coping skills in their youth, they would have changed their life path. This led me to pursue a career in CYMH. I’m passionate about CYMH as it aids in the shaping of our future generations. I want everyone to have access to evidence based mental health care. By being a part of this innovative program, we are moving towards that reality.
I am an advocate for the assessment and treatment of ADHD. By treating ADHD, you reduce the risk of substance use disorders and other comorbid mental health concerns. At Compass we are able to support providers with diagnostic clarification and treatment recommendations. We often refer to the CADDRA guidelines for their medication chart. The guidelines also do a nice job explaining common comorbidities.
I have two children with complex ADHD and through my experiences of accessing care for them, I have gained a lot of knowledge that I can share on the Compass line.
What have you found the most rewarding or surprising about supporting providers?
I’m always so impressed with the callers and the excellent care they are providing to communities within limited or under resourced areas. Their dedication to their patients is remarkable.
The gratitude and thanks we receive on a daily basis is one of the most rewarding parts of the job at Compass. I have worked in many areas of health care where the words “Thank You” are rare.
The ongoing learning from one another on the team and from the callers motivates me to keep learning and growing. I thrive when I’m surrounded by knowledgeable individuals.
Any clinical pearls you would like to share?
Always assess for the underlying mental health concern if you see a youth with problematic substance use. Asking them what they like about their substance use and not like about their substance use provides clues to what symptoms they are self medicating. Once that is clarified, treating both concerns at the same time is best practice.