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Posted: 4/22/2009

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing professor Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, chair of the Department of Community Public Health, has been named to the Institute of Medicine committee to study "Qualifications of Professionals Providing Mental Health Counseling Services under TRICARE".

The committee members will make recommendations for permitting licensed mental health counselors to practice independently under the TRICARE program, the Department of Defense's health care services plan for the active-duty military, retirees, and their families. The committee is comprised of 12 individuals, including Sharps, from health care and educational institutions across the country.

"The study proposes to examine and make recommendations about the role counselors should play in providing services," Sharps says. "I believe it will improve TRICARE by helping it to supply the best mental health care to meet the complex needs of active military members and veterans as well as military families."

This study will also offer recommendations regarding any modifications of the current policies regarding counselors' ability to practice independently under the TRICARE program. The committee hopes to release a report containing its findings on these topics at the end of the year.

Dr. Sharps works at the forefront of community and public health nursing and at the interface of mental and physical health. In addition to serving as Chair of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Department of Community Public Health, she is also the director of three health and wellness centers operated by the School, provides care in a Baltimore shelter for homeless battered women and their children, and conducts ongoing community-based, participatory research. The overarching focus of her work is on the effects of intimate partner violence on the physical and emotional health of pregnant women, infants, and very young children.