Correctional Nurse Certification Options

Have you considered certifying in the correctional nursing specialty? Most established specialties have a certification process. Correctional nursing has several options for your consideration. Is certification for you?  According to the American Nurses Association, certification validates nursing skills, knowledge, and abilities. In addition, they contend that certification contributes to better patient outcomes. Certified nurses are role models of professional accountability. Certification empowers nurses and validates their understanding of the unique nature of their specialty. It can lead to increased self-esteem, job satisfaction and respect. Certified nurses distinguish themselves through a commitment to lifelong learning and career advancement, according to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

In Chapter 3: Legal Considerations in Correctional Nursing of the Essentials of Correctional Nursing, Jacqueline Moore, PhD, RN, CCHP-A, CCHP-RN suggests that another benefit of certification may be decreased liability. Since certification is fairly new in correctional nursing, the jury is still out on that aspect.

Certification is not only important for the individual nurse, it is also important to the correctional nursing profession. The development of specialty certification for correctional nursing is an important milestone. It helps to legitimize the specialty of correctional nursing and validates that professionals possess a unique body of knowledge and skills. It inspires other correctional nurses to seek certification and stimulates interest in correctional nursing research. Correctional nursing certification is another action toward enhancing and fostering professionalism in this specialty.

There are two main certifications available to correctional nurses.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) awards the CCHP-RN (Certified Correctional Health Professional – Registered Nurse) to registered nurses working in the correctional setting. The American Correctional Association offers two certifications:  CCN (Certified Corrections Nurse) is a generalist certification and CCN/M (Certified Corrections Nurse/Manager) is a manager certification. Certification requirements and exam content areas are listed below.

Eligibility Requirements

CCN-Licensed RN, LPN, LVN; One (1) year work experience in correctional nursing in present position

CCN/M – Registered Nurse (RN) in good standing with State Nursing Board;  Associate, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science in Nursing, or a three (3) year Nursing Diploma;  One (1) year of Correctional Nursing Management experience; individual supervises other medical personnel and administrative staff

CCHP-RN – Current CCHP certification;  Current, active RN license within a U.S. state or territory or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country, not restricted to corrections only;  Equivalent of 2 years full-time practice as a registered nurse (2,000 hours of practice in a correctional setting within the last 3 years);  54 hours of continuing education in nursing, with 18 specific to correctional health care, within the last 3 years

Certification Exam Content Areas



Health care in corrections Clinical management of patients
Legal issues in corrections Promotion of a safe & secure health care environment
Mental health Health promotion & maintenance
Nursing practice & standards Professional role & responsibilities
Managing security & environment
General & offender management
Conflict management
Human resource management

Have you taken one of the certification exams described above? How has it benefited you?

Photo Credit: © valdis torms –

10 thoughts on “Correctional Nurse Certification Options

  1. Can you give me listing of credits and idea’s I will need to complkete to renew my CCN in 2014 ? Know the list is lengthy and a few of us at work need to get started. Thanks – Debra L Dolby LPN /CCN


  2. Pingback: Certification Journey: Rule the Day | Essentials of Correctional Nursing

  3. Pingback: Correctional Nurse Goals for 2015: Get Certified! | Essentials of Correctional Nursing

  4. Again, LPN’s should have the ability to get the same certifications! Why do you have to be a RN? I am a nurse manager for 4 small rural jails and the only nurse here in my medical department. We have become accredited this year after I wrote, developed and implemented policies and procedures for all the NCCHC standards. Our facility is top notch and run by a LPN-CCHP and MD-CCHP. I’m sure there are many LPN’s out there that are doing the same. Many rural jails are completely run without a RN. We need the same opportunities to learn and gain powerful knowledge through education. You write blogs about the importance of LPN’s, but then send the message that they are not capable of advancing through their “Certification Journey.” I want to advocate for all the LPN’s in the correctional field. We are valuable!


    • Dear Kim,
      This post was written to support all nurses practicing in correctional health care to become certified, whether they are an LPN, RN or APRN. LPNs have several opportunities for certification in correctional health care. These include the Certified Correctional Health Professional offered by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the Certified Correctional Nurse offered by the American Corrections Association. The National Commission on Correctional Health Care also offers the CCHP-A that LPNs with three years’ experience are eligible to apply for. Any of these certifications are a worthy goal for nurses in 2015 for the same reasons outlined in the post put up this week.
      Best wishes for your 2015 goals!


  5. Hi Catherine,
    To obtain a CCN certification is my 2016 goal! I started to work as correctional nurse since March of this year. Compared to hospital setting, I found that it is an unique environment that we couldn’t embrace health care as its primary mission when taking care of the unique patient population, inmates and detainees, indeed.
    I had started to read the Essentials of Correctional Nursing as part of my school assignment (RN to BSN). I need your help to give more information about the next year test date and fees. I had browsed the website of Association for Correctional Nurses but not very helpful. Thank you.


  6. Is there one certification that is more preferable? Our facility is accredited by both organizations and I am having difficulty deciding which is more suitable or preferable. Any ideas to help with decision? I am a Registered Nurse in management but not sure which to choose. Thanks


    • Hi, Anna, I think the CCHP-RN certification is a better option. The exam is validated and respected within nursing circles. The study materials are also more helpful. Go for it! Lorry


    • Brenda,
      Sorry it has taken me a week to respond. Please accept my apologies. Lorry wrote about studying for certification exams in a series of posts published in 2012. Go to the search window and type in certification. You will see several posts that discuss preparing for a certification exam. One in particular discusses study materials. Please do take the exam-with a year’s worth of experience you are most likely to have the experience to do well on the exam.
      Good Luck!


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