Making a Difference with Stefania Cunningham, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Published On: November 15th, 2023Categories: News, Spectrum Corrections

Stefania Cunningham’s tenure at Spectrum began 10 years ago. Originally joining as a per diem nurse, she now works as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner based out of Spectrum’s Weymouth location, providing psychiatric services to clients throughout Massachusetts.

In her time with Spectrum, she’s seen many changes and developments, both in the organization and in the substance use treatment field as a whole. But what hasn’t changed in that time is Stefania and Spectrum’s shared commitment to providing the very best in addiction treatment services.

Helping Spectrum Expand

Soon after Stefania joined Spectrum in 2013, she took on a Nursing Supervisor role. She provided key guidance as Weymouth expanded to begin offering detox services. This change placed greater clinical responsibility on Stefania’s nursing team, but she was happy to rise to the occasion if it meant they could help a greater number of people.

A few years later, Spectrum’s services in Weymouth would expand again. While Spectrum offered detox, clinical stabilization, and inpatient services in Weymouth, outpatient services, such as medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), were not offered there. With Stefania’s help, Spectrum’s Weymouth Outpatient location was opened. “There wasn’t much being offered in terms of maintenance medication in the area at that time,” she said. “So, it was huge that we could meet that treatment need and bring those services to the south shore of Massachusetts.”

Meeting Psychiatric Needs in the Treatment Space

In the years that followed, Stefania continued to help Spectrum improve and adapt to new challenges, such as managing health and safety risks through the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, she saw another treatment need that wasn’t being met, though.

“We would have clients on maintenance medication, doing really well with the physical addiction aspect, but they would still be really struggling with anxiety or depression,” she said. “They would say, ‘I’m not homeless anymore, I’m not using anymore, I shouldn’t be depressed.’ But mental health goes much deeper than that. So, I saw a real need for psychiatric treatment.”

It was then that Stefania decided she wanted to pivot from her administrative role to one that would help her meet the psychiatric needs of those in recovery. She went back to school, studying to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. After graduating, she began working at another organization in the treatment field, but soon found that it lacked the cooperative environment she’d grown accustomed to at Spectrum. “It just wasn’t the same,” she said. “It didn’t feel like a team.”

Soon after, an opportunity arose for her to return to Spectrum, serving in a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner role that would allow her to meet the unmet mental health needs of those living in communities across the entire state, from Weymouth all the way to Pittsfield. Stefania was glad to be returning to the team which worked so well together and was especially proud to be a part of Spectrum expanding its services yet again.

Making a Difference with Spectrum

She knows that finding reliable, unbiased psychiatric services while in recovery can be a challenge, so she’s grateful that she can help meet this crucial treatment need. “I can have 10 people with depression and anxiety, and they each may be on a different medication regimen that proves to be effective for them as an individual, or maybe they’re taking no medication at all, but would benefit from pharmaceutical treatment of their symptoms,” she said. “So, there is a lot of evaluating where people are at, and coming up with a treatment plan that works for them.”

Being able to help people with substance use disorders and other mental health struggles has allowed Stefania to see people make real progress in their lives. “When someone tells me they haven’t had a panic attack or a depressive episode in a long time, and I get to see them moving past things that used to really inhibit them, that’s a special feeling.”

For more information about working at Spectrum Health Systems, visit the careers page on our website.

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