Seeking certification in correctional nursing is an important step in a nursing career. Like any big endeavor, it requires planning and perseverance to succeed. Reaching this goal is similar to a marathon, rather than a sprint. Catherine and I have both completed certification through NCCHC as Certified Correctional Health Professionals (CCHP). We also both participated on the taskforce that created the CCHP-RN specialty exam so we know a bit about what it takes to become certified in a specialty. Now we are going to seek certification through the American Correctional Association (ACA) as Certified Correctional Nurse/Manager (CCN/M). We’ll take you along on the journey as we blog about our experiences. Since we’ll be using all our tips from our NCCHC Certification, you can use this information for either certification you select.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Each certification has eligibility standard for applicants (see prior post). Carefully read the eligibility requirements and compare them to your background. NCCHC’s requirements are more stringent and align with American Nurses Association standards for nurse certification. Because the ACA certification is specific to managers, it requires at least one year of management experience. Looks like Catherine and I are qualified to move to the next step.
Step 2: Determine Test Date and Location
The testing date at an acceptable location will determine the study schedule. We will work backward from the exam date to plan our preparation. Both NCCHC and ACA hold regional exam dates and include exams with their conferences. The regional exam sites for CCN/M in 2012 are in inconvenient locations, so we’ll set our plan for the ACA Winter Conference, January 25-30, 2013 in Houston, TX. This gives us about 6 months to study. If this is your first certification exam or you are fairly new to corrections, you may want to extend your preparation out longer.
Step 3: Make Application
Now that eligibility and test date have been determined, it is time for us to complete the application for certification. Some applications can require eligibility documents such as copies of license, transcripts, or references validating required work experience. In the case of the CCN/M, an honor system is used to validate professional requirements.
OK, we are starting our certification journey. Want to join us? Follow these three steps to get started and I’ll be back later with our next steps in the process – Creating a Study Plan.
If you are joining this journey or have ideas about certification preparation, share in the comments section of this post.
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