This post is based on the Correctional Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, third edition, published by the American Nurses Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care website and the American Correctional Association website.
Did you know that Correctional Nurses have the ability to become certified in our specialty? Continuing our review of Correctional Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, third edition, today we will discuss the availability of Specialty Certification for Correctional Nurses. According to the American Nurses Association, Specialty Certification validates achievement of special knowledge and the more advanced skills necessary to performance in the specialized area. Both the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the American Correctional Association offer certification in correctional health care and Correctional Nursing.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care offers four certifications for nurses: the Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP), the CCHP-RN, the CCHP-MH and the CCHP-Advanced. The Correctional Health Professional is the foundation for the other certifications, and anyone involved in correctional healthcare may sit for the examination. There is no work experience requirement, but applicants must hold credentials appropriate to their field and employment position. In addition, character and fitness are important components of the application.
After achieving the CCHP, correctional registered nurses may chose to continue their certification journey and sit for the CCHP-RN certification, which, as the name implies, validates nursing knowledge, critical thinking and patient advocacy as related to nursing practice in a correctional environment. Correctional Registered Nurses can also sit for the CCHP-MH designation and the Advanced designation offered by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
The American Correctional Association has three specialty certifications for healthcare professionals and nurses with any licensure. The Certified Corrections Nurse certification is for staff nurses who work in a correctional environment with both staff and offenders. It includes those responsible for implementing agency policies and procedures, and requires one year of work experience in Correctional Nursing in his/her/their current position.
The Corrections Nurse Manager certification is for individuals who work as nurse managers in a correctional environment. They are management staff who may contribute to the development of policy and procedures, are responsible for the implementation of policies ad procedures, and have authority over staff nurses. Eligibility requirements include being a licensed Registered Nurse with a nursing degree or diploma and at least one year of work experience in their current position as a correctional nurse manager.
The Health Services Administrator certification is for individuals who manage major health related units or programs within a correctional setting. They are management staff who may contribute to the development of policy and procedures, are responsible for their implementation, and have authority over staff members. Eligibility requirements include the a degree in a health-related or business field and a minimum of three years experience as a Health Services Administrator.
Correctional Nurses may also take the examination for the Correctional Behavioral Health certification – Behavioral Specialty, if they provide rehabilitative, recreational, case management, re-entry planning, psycho-educational and other supportive services to mentally ill inmates/offenders. To be eligible, the Correctional Nurse must have the equivalent of two years of accumulated experience providing structured activities, psycho-educational programs, nursing/medical support, recreational, and other supportive behavioral services in a mental health setting. At least one of the two years must be in a correctional or juvenile justice facility for inmates/offenders in an inpatient mental health unit, residential treatment unit, secure therapeutic unit, intensive management unit, behavioral adjustment unit or other specialized unit or program for inmates with mental illness. They must also have a minimum of forty (40) hours of behavioral/mental health related training.
In addition to our specialty certifications, correctional nurses may also pursue certification available to all nurses, such as Certified in Infection Control and Prevention, Certification in Executive Nursing Practice, HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse, Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, and patient education roles like Certified Asthma Educator, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Nurse Educator.
Certification shows that a nurse is dedicated to professional improvement, and sets a standard of excellence for correctional healthcare. Perhaps, you are asking yourself, “Why should I go through the hassle of studying (because you do have to study and review!) and the stress of test taking?” I cannot answer for you – only you can do that, but I will share that for me, my sense of accomplishment is beyond great every time I write the “CCHP-RN” in my credentials! In addition, the effort I made to become certified was not only for me, but it was for my patients. They may never know what it took for me to become certified, and they may not even know that I am certified, but I believe that taking my professionalism to the next level has positively impacted the care I provide to my patients, and they cannot help but notice.
I strongly encourage you to think about correctional nursing certification. Perhaps, you and a few of your colleagues will decide to pursue it and study together…what a gift for each of you, your facility and your patients!
To learn more about Correctional Nursing Practice and Roles, get a copy of Correctional Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice.