Matissa Sammons, CCHP, is Director of Certification at National Commission on Correctional Health Care. This post is based on her session “Your Next Steps in Professional Development: CCHP and Specialty Certifications” taking place at the 2015 National Conference on Correctional Health Care in Dallas, TX, October 17-21, 2015. Learn more about the conference and register HERE.
Correctional health care is a specialty like no other. Where else do health care staff get a pat down on the way into work, account for every needle used in the delivery of care, care for people who have been living on the street, or administer medications through a letter-sized metal door flap? Of course, those are only a few of the peculiarities of the field. The patient population and environment of care result in an unusual mix of conditions and situations. Those who enter the corrections field often need to seek out professional development to gain the knowledge to operate in the specialty. One way to establish expertise in a specialty like correctional health care is to seek certification.
Value of Certification
Why should you consider putting in time and effort to become certified? Here are a few reasons professionals seek out certification.
- Professional Recognition: First and foremost is professional recognition among employers, peers, and consumers.
- Professional Credibility: Certification denotes a proven knowledge base and documented experience in a given specialty.
- Sense of Accomplishment: Preparing for a certification exam can be hard work; requiring diligence and perseverance. Completing the process can provide a sense of accomplishment.
- Knowledge Validation: Certification validates foundational knowledge for the particular specialty – above and beyond initial general professional knowledge for licensure.
- Marketability: Certified professionals stand out in a crowd of candidates vying for a particular position. It not only validates knowledge but also motivation and perseverance in the specialty.
Correctional Health Care Certification Categories
There are several types of correctional health care certifications. The advanced and specialty certifications build on the foundational Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP) designation. Here is a brief overview of the various categories. Full eligibility requirements can be found on the NCCHC website – ncchc.org.
Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP): Anyone of good character and fitness with interest in correctional health care is eligible to apply for CCHP certification. The certification exam consists of 80-100 multiple choice questions.
Certified Correctional Health Professional – Advanced (CCHP-A): Those with CCHP certification can seek advanced certification after 3 years. This process for advanced certification involves an extensive application detailing the individual’s experience and contributions to the field of correctional health care followed by a four-hour proctored examination consisting of eight essay questions.
Certified Correctional Health Professional – Mental Health (CCHP-MH): CCHP certified mental health professionals must be a qualified mental health professional as defined by NCCHC’s Standards for Mental Health Services in Correctional Facilities with a graduate degree, professional licensure, and the equivalent of three years of full-time practice experience in a correctional setting may sit for the CCHP-MH certification. The exam consists of 80-100 multiple-choice questions.
Certified Correctional Health Professional – Physician (CCHP-P): CCHP certified physicians with an unrestricted license who have practiced in the correctional environment for at least three years are eligible to sit for the CCHP-P certification. The exam consists of 70-100 multiple-choice questions.
Certified Correctional Health Professional – Registered Nurse (CCHP-RN): CCHP certified registered nurses with an unrestricted license and the equivalent of two years of full-time practice as an RN with at least 2000 hours of correctional practice are eligible to sit for the CCHP-RN certification. The exam consists of 70-100 multiple-choice questions.
Are you certified in correctional health care or one of the specialties? What motivated you to prepare and take the examination? Share your experience in the comments section of this post.
This post is part of a series discussing topics addressed during sessions of the 2015 National Conference on Correctional Health Care. All posts in this series can be found HERE.