USPHS Officer’s Leadership Project Helps Colleagues Earn CCHP Credentials

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Posted Mar 27, 2017

Proud CCHPs. First row: CDR Pamela McCormick, BSN; LCDR Stephany McGann, MD; LCDR Denise VanMeter, BSN, RN; Second row: LCDR Thomas Gera, PA-C; LCDR Daniel True, PharmD; LCDR Kristi Crites, RN, CRNP; LT Jamie Hamilton-Rumer, RN; P. J. Boch, RN

When Lieutenant Commander Denise VanMeter, BSN, RN, a nurse at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, MD, became a CCHP in 2011, she did not realize just how much certification would benefit her career as a U.S. Public Health Services officer. “In 2015 I found out that this certification is a verified national specialty certification that is recognized by the USPHS,” she recalls. Realizing that her status as a CCHP made her eligible for a career advancement, she completed the requisite documentation and was promoted from Clinical Nurse Intermediate to Nurse Consultant Level 1. Wanting to share the benefits of CCHP status with her colleagues, VanMeter made it her goal to help other FCI Cumberland health services staff become certified.

FCI Cumberland is a medium-security federal prison with an average daily population of between 1,200 and 1,300 male inmates. USPHS Commissioned Corps officers like VanMeter work for the prison’s health services division and provide and manage a variety of physical and mental health care services. These officers are encouraged to pursue career development and advancement opportunities and, to this end, VanMeter applied for the Bureau of Prisons Leadership Program in 2015. She was accepted that August and immediately began working on her leadership project—getting her fellow health services staff CCHP certified.

In 2016, VanMeter proctored two CCHP exams at her site. “I had great success and participation,” she says. As a result of her efforts, eight of the 15 staff members in the health services department are now certified, including seven of the eight USPHS officers. “That gives our department bragging rights!” she says.

A correctional nurse since 1994, VanMeter explains that the mission of the BOP, as part of the U.S. Department of Justice, centers on the intersection of public health and correctional health care. The goal, she explains, is to keep society at large safe through the humane confinement of offenders, which necessarily includes access to quality health care.

VanMeter sees the CCHP credential as evidence of her commitment to correctional nursing and her dedication to ensuring quality of care. It’s important to demonstrate knowledge and commitment not only to superiors, she explains, but to the inmates, as well. She says inmates often ask about staff credentials that they see posted on the facility’s communication board and always have a positive response when they learn what CCHP stands for. “This speaks volumes to inmates. It shows that the staff has gone the extra mile and is aware of the national standards, policies and procedures that drive our diverse field,” she says.

To arrange for an on-site CCHP exam for your employees or coworkers, contact Matissa Sammons, MA, CCHP, vice president of certification, at matissasammons@ncchc.org. Visit www.ncchc.org/cchp for more information.

This article was written by Katie Przychodzen, MA, NCCHC’s marketing assistant. It originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of CorrectCare, Vol. 31, Issue 1.