“The CCHP Program Is for Correctional Health Executives Too”
“Knowing the NCCHC standards and becoming certified is just as important for correctional health administrators as it is for nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals,” says Brandon De Julius, MBA, CCHP-A, area vice president, Corizon Health. He is one of three individuals to have earned the prestigious CCHP-Advanced certification during 2020.
In his role with Corizon, De Julius is responsible for the delivery of contracted health care services at several locations within the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (which, he explains, is actually a jail). He oversees contracts, compliance, finance, human resources, and legal issues and supervises several health services administrators – a role he himself held when he first joined Corizon 11 years ago.
A Real Eye-Opener
At that time, he was finishing up coursework for a master’s degree in health administration. A colleague suggested the jail as a possible place to work; De Julius was dubious but went for an interview. “I’m not sure what I expected – we had learned absolutely nothing about corrections in my master’s program. But I can tell you I did not expect to find a clean, fully staffed, well-equipped, comprehensive health clinic. It was a real eye-opener,” he says. He got the job.
The facility was preparing for an NCCHC accreditation survey, and he was encouraged to sit for the CCHP exam as the best way to learn the NCCHC standards. “Earning my CCHP gave me confidence in interacting with clinical and nonclinical colleagues alike,” he says. “I now spoke their language, which I needed to do to be a good leader and make a positive impact.”
Ten years and several promotions later, De Julius was ready to admit that he was all-in on correctional health as a career and really commit to the field. To make it official, he applied to take the CCHP-A exam. He was accepted and passed.
Setting the Bar
“CCHP-As set the bar. That’s who I wanted to be associated with,” he says. “It’s one thing to be an expert in the standards. It’s quite another to know how to operationalize them, how to use them to advance a correctional health program. That’s what the CCHP-A test calls for.”
To prepare for the exam, De Julius read all the suggested books, thought through scenarios, analyzed processes, and brainstormed solutions to theoretical problems. Nevertheless, he says, “Ten years of experience was the best preparation. There are some things that only experience can teach.”
He urges anyone in the field, hands-on caregivers, providers, administrators, and executives alike, to learn the NCCHC standards and become a CCHP. “The standards guide everything. If you don’t know the standards, you don’t know your job,” he says.
De Julius loves his chosen field. “There is so much opportunity to do so much for patients who haven’t had a lot of interaction with health care. To get them started on taking ownership of their own health is very satisfying,” he says.
He has a message for his fellow administrators: “Whether you wear scrubs or a suit and tie to work, CCHP certification is for you. And as you transition from having a job or career in correctional health to having a calling, consider applying to become a CCHP-A.”