Dr. Kimberly Clawson has been selected to lead Nebraska's first forensic psychiatry fellowship program at the Sarpy County Correctional Center. Sarpy County and the University of Nebraska Medical Center partnered to create this one-of-a-kind mental health program that both treats inmates and establishes a new pipeline of mental health experts.
"The psychiatry program at Sarpy County’s behavioral health unit is groundbreaking and reflects our shared commitment with UNMC to improving mental health in our community. UNMC’s support is essential to this effort,” Sarpy County Board Chair Angi Burmeister said. “Dr. Clawson is an excellent choice to lead the fellowship program, and her expertise will make a vital difference in Sarpy County.”
Dr. Clawson will provide inmates psychiatric treatment, prescribe medication, help with medication management, provide court testimony and reports, and potentially complete competency evaluations.
The goal is to treat inmates’ psychiatric needs, connect them with community resources and ultimately set them up for more positive outcomes upon release. Roughly 1 in 5 inmates at the Sarpy County Correctional Center are diagnosed with a serious mental illness.
“We’re here to house people with compassion and help rehabilitate them so they’re in a better position to reenter society when they leave. The psychiatry fellowship will play a major part in that, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming Dr. Clawson,” Sarpy County Corrections Director Ryan Mahr said.
UNMC and Sarpy County took the first steps toward this landmark program in 2021 when they established the psychiatry partnership to support existing mental health resources the county offers. Soon after, Sarpy County began construction on its new correctional center, where Clawson will conduct her work.
“This fellowship will fill a huge need in Nebraska,” Clawson said. “It’s a growing problem, and we can help an underserved population with behavioral health care.”
Clawson is a 2017 UNMC College of Medicine graduate. She completed her Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship in 2023 from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also trained at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C, where she served as Outpatient Chief Resident in 2020-21 and completed a Consultation-Liaison Fellowship in 2022.
“The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners has been visionary in its commitment to helping people in the justice system get access to mental health treatment, on the path to rehabilitation. This fellowship led by UNMC alumnus and forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Kimberly Clawson, will create the workforce to provide cutting edge services to people who are in jail or involved in the legal system. It is truly a commitment to do the right thing for the citizens of Nebraska,” said Dr. Howard Liu, Chair of UNMC’s Department of Psychiatry.
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, praised the selection.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Clawson back to Omaha,” he said. “We are both excited and honored to participate in this collaborative effort between Sarpy County and UNMC. We will provide impactful and needed services for Nebraska.”