Introducing CCHP-CP, a New Specialty Exam for Physicians, NPs, and PAs - National Commission on Correctional Health Care
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CCHP CP for blogMar 20, 2023

Introducing CCHP-CP, a New Specialty Exam for Physicians, NPs, and PAs



After many months of careful consideration and hard work, the CCHP program has launched the Certified Correctional Health Professional – Clinical Provider (CCHP-CP) exam, a new program that includes physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants/associates.

The new exam is being welcomed by clinical providers and advanced care practitioners, who have long sought recognition through a specialty CCHP program.

“The work of the multidisciplinary committee of physicians, NPs, and PAs has come to a triumphant conclusion as NCCHC staff prepares to launch the new CCHP-CP exam at the Spring Conference in April,” says Matissa Sammons, MA, CCHP, NCCHC vice president of certification. “People have been asking for this since CCHP-Physician first launched.”

NPs and PAs: Playing a Critical Role
Over that time, the number of CCHP-certified NPs and PAs, while high, had not reached a tipping point to qualify for the necessary investment in a brand-new exam, per certification criteria set by the CCHP Board of Trustees. In 2022, the CCHP-P subcommittee and CCHP Board of Trustees saw a path forward.

Like it did for so many issues in health care, COVID helped focus attention on the critical role NPs and PAs play in correctional health care. A multidisciplinary committee began to meet to assess whether it might be possible to update and expand the elements of the CCHP-P program to recognize the commonalities required for success in all those roles.

“I was in favor of this new program from the beginning,” says committee vice chair Jeffrey Alvarez, MD, CCHP-P, CCHP-A, chief medical officer for NaphCare. “In the community, and especially in corrections, NPs and PAs provide a huge amount of primary and emergency care. A specialty certification that defines what clinical providers need to know to be effective in corrections raises the level of quality in the field and promotes the idea of correctional health as a clinical specialty.”

Committee chair Peter Ober, JD, PA-C, CCHP, who has been the NCCHC Board liaison from the (recently renamed) American Academy of Physician Associates for 23 years, says the special knowledge needed to diagnose, treat, and prescribe in correctional institutions should be recognized. At his firm, Rappahannock Creative Health, he recruits and supervises correctional physicians, PAs, and NPs.

“You can be the best provider in the community, but it can take a year to figure out how to be effective in a correctional environment,” he says. “Defining the necessary knowledge, such as how to effectively advocate for your patients with correctional staff and leaders, can literally save lives. Administrators may focus on short-term expense, where we as clinicians must use appropriate language, tools, and expertise to get patients the care they need.”

Updated Content
Committee members reviewed CCHP-P content areas and came to consensus on an updated list of questions that are relevant and appropriate for all clinical providers. They added a new focus on substance use and also added questions specific to transgender care. Content areas in the new exam are weighted differently.

“There is appropriately less emphasis on clinical knowledge, such as what to prescribe for a particular condition, and more emphasis on the skills you need to be excellent as a clinical provider in a correctional environment,” says Jennifer Clifton, DNP, FNP-BC, CCHP-A, a committee member and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners liaison to the NCCHC board. “Clinical knowledge is covered by our State boards. Furthermore, this new specialty certification will help other clinicians understand how effective NPs can be when we are permitted to show all the expertise we have and that our licenses permit.”

She notes that many states allow NPs to be a facility’s chief medical officer and hopes that the new CCHP-CP program is the first step in complete recognition of NPs as licensed independent providers within correctional health care where state law allows.

NCCHC Board Chair Pauline Marcussen, RHIA, DHA, CCHP, chaired the CCHP Board of Trustees from 2018 to 2022 and is a strong CCHP advocate. “We are very grateful to the members of the committee who worked so hard to make CCHP-CP a reality and clarified what it means to be a clinical provider in corrections,” she says.

“The program will bring more recognition to the field as a specialty and will help shine a light on the many educated, qualified, and dedicated people who do the day-to-day work of providing correctional health care.”  

The new program will debut with a test at the Spring Conference on Correctional Health Care on April 30 in New Orleans and will be available after that at future conferences, at Prometric Test Centers, and online.

Learn more about the CCHP-CP exam.

Who Is Eligible for the New CCHP-CP Program?
All qualified physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician associates are eligible. Prior to submitting an application, applicants must have:

  • Current CCHP certification (no minimum amount of time as a CCHP required)
  • Unrestricted license (MD, DO, PA, NP) in good standing to practice in at least one U.S. state
  • Practice in a provider role in the correctional environment over the course of at least three years (no minimum requirement of hours)
  • 18 hours of correctional health-specific continuing education within the past three years

For more information, visit ncchc.org/professional-certification/clinical-provider-certification.

Next Steps for CCHP-P Physicians
Physicians with a CCHP-P can start using the new CCHP-CP credential right away. Alternatively, at recertification, the CCHP-P credential will change to CCHP-CP. Physicians will remain on their existing recertification schedule.

CCHP-CP Committee Members

  • Peter Ober, JD, PA-C, CCHP (chair)
  • Jeff Alvarez, MD, CCHP-P, CCHP-A, (vice-chair)
  • Jennifer Clifton, DNP, FNP-BC, CCHP-A
  • Brent Gibson, MD, CCHP-P
  • Kimberly Kane, APRN, CCHP-RN
  • Rebecca Lubelczyk, MD, CCHP-P
  • Leonora Muhammad, DNP, CCHP
  • Juan (Rudy) Nunez, MD, CCHP-P
  • Patrick Ober, PA-C, CCHP
  • Esmaeil Porsa, MD, MPH, CCHP-P, CCHP-A
  • Johnny Wu, MD, CCHP-P, CCHP-A   

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