Deborah Finnell has specialized in mental health and addictions for the majority of her career. From her grounding as a registered nurse working in inpatient psychiatry, she expanded her role to that of a clinical nurse specialist and then a nurse practitioner. She brings her passion for the neurobiological bases of mental health and addictions to her clinical practice, teaching, research, and policy/advocacy. With funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. Finnell led the integration of substance-use related content including screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) into the nursing curricula at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She advocates for expanded access to mental health and substance use treatment, including calling for advanced practice nurses to prescribe buprenorphine. Over her decade with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Hospital Administration, she conducted funded research focusing on improving the health of veterans with mental and substance use disorders.
Her professional leadership roles range from past chair of the New York State Peer Assistance Committee to past president of the International Nurses Society on Addictions. She served as chair of the Addictions Nursing Certification Board and also was a member of the Committee on Nursing Standards for the American Nurses Association. She currently serves on the board of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) and is associate editor of that organization’s professional journal, Substance Abuse.