Dr. Jean S. Coffey Ph.D., APRN, CPNP, FAAN is a Clinical Professor in the UConn School of Nursing and has worked in the clinical setting for over 40 years. First starting as a bedside nurse in pediatric acute and intensive care, Coffey later moved into home care to help create a statewide program to support children with chronic illness living at home. She went on to take the roles of school nurse as well as that of pediatric unit manager and nursing director in two children’s hospitals in New England. In 1999, Coffey completed her education as a pediatric nurse practitioner and for the next 22 years worked in primary care, while mentoring nurse practitioner and medical students. Patients are Coffey’s inspiration. “I feel blessed that I’ve been able to live my life with those individuals who shared their life with me in their best and worst of times,” says Coffey.
Coffey’s main area of research involves the exploration of children in nature. While working as a nurse practitioner in primary care she noticed that children were gaining extra pounds during the winter, which had harmful effects on their health. She was interested in whether children and families would be more likely to get outside and enjoy nature if their primary care provider prescribed it. Dr Coffey was appointed to the National Children in Nature Advisory Board that created one of the original nature prescriptions. She met with many health care and outdoor nature professionals and talked about how they could get more kids to be involved in nature. Her study regarding the use of nature prescriptions for children has been cited in the national agenda on Nature Contact and Health.
Coffey also developed and worked at a summer camp for children with asthma. As part of an interprofessional team, she and her colleagues provided education and support to families as they cared for their children with asthma. At the camp the children learned how to manage their illness on an individual level with the guidance of the health care team monitoring their medications and clinical presentation. “In that setting, the children were not allowing their illness to hold them back from experiences that all children should be able to have and that was really important. That’s probably what I’m most proud of about the camp,” says Coffey.
Involvement with CSCH
Coffey joined CSCH as an affiliate in 2021 and became a steering committee member this fall. She is excited to work with fellow researchers in this new role. “I’m really looking forward to hearing about what people are interested in and to see if there’s a way for me to be helpful in those settings,” says Coffey.
Coffey owns nine Siberian Husky sled dogs which adds to her love for the outdoors. She and her family trained them. Being outside makes her happy and feeling refreshed.
Undergraduate Researcher Jannell Brown interviewed Dr. Coffey and wrote this profile.