Professional Credentials - National Commission on Correctional Health Care

Professional Credentials

All qualified health care professionals must have credentials and provide services consistent with the licensure, certification and registration requirements of the jurisdiction. As part of the hiring process, verification of credentials should confirm current licensure, certification or registration. This process should include inquiry into sanctions or disciplinary actions of state boards and employers for all qualified health care professionals. However, for accreditation purposes, the 2018 standards clarify that the NPDB inquiry is required only for prescribers; it is not necessary for nurses.

— From CorrectCare Volume 32, Issue 2, Spring 2018

Two standards apply to this question. C-01 Credentialing, Compliance Indicator #3: “Health providers do not perform tasks beyond those permitted by their credentials”; and D-05 Hospital and Specialty Care, Compliance Indicator #4: “For on-site specialty services used regularly for medical and mental health care, there are appropriate licenses and certifications.” So if the staff doing the procedure on-site would be able to do it in a community setting, and the facility’s setting/tools/supplies/etc. would meet credentialing requirements if credentialing were needed to perform the service, then NCCHC’s Standards for Health Services would allow the practice. The responsible health authority and responsible physician (when the RHA is not a physician) must determine that there are appropriately credentialed and trained health staff, and appropriate direct and auxiliary services and supplies on-site (x-ray, casting materials, etc.). If you are not sure what is needed, an orthopedic specialist could assist.

— From CorrectCare Volume 22, Issue 1, Winter 2008

NCCHC does not specify preemployment training requirements, nor do correctional facilities generally. However, RNs interested in working in this challenging field should be current in their state licensure, keep up with renewal requirements and be sure their assigned duties are in keeping with their qualifications. CPR and first aid certifications are a must.

Important standard C-09 Orientation for Health Staff stipulates that new health staff employees must receive basic orientation on the first day of on-site duty and in-depth orientation within the first 90 days. Some facilities, often state prisons and large jail systems, send new employees to a central academy for orientation and training on issues such as security. Some national correctional health care contractors have extensive initial orientation for new RNs.

Unfortunately, some new nurses don’t receive orientation and find themselves alone and unprepared for a paramilitary setting in which security and safety—not health care—is the main focus. They can be prey to many problems, not only from inmate behavior but also from unfamiliarity with their environment and dependence on correctional staff cooperation to do their jobs effectively.

Knowledge about correctional health care is highly valuable for a nurse seeking to navigate these waters. NCCHC receives many calls from experienced RNs who are new to corrections and astute enough to realize they need help. If the facility is accredited by NCCHC, the nurse is at great advantage in working under a mentor who is knowledgeable about the Commission and its standards. The Academy of Correctional Health Professionals, a supporting organization of NCCHC, has as members correctional nurses who will mentor or share advice. Nurses new to corrections also would benefit from attending NCCHC conferences and participating in its certification program to better understand this complex field, develop professional networks and build confidence. Finally, the American Nursing Association, another NCCHC supporting organization, has a booklet with guidelines for correctional nursing.

— From CorrectCare Volume 20, Issue 4, Fall 2006

This is covered in standard C-01 Credentialing in all three sets of Standards (jails, prisons and juvenile facilities). Compliance Indicator 3 states, “Health providers do not perform tasks beyond those permitted by their credentials.” The Discussion section elaborates: “Students in the various health professions may receive training in correctional environments, so they may supplement services under the supervision of appropriate qualified health care professionals just as they would in a community setting.” Orientation to the correctional setting and to their tasks is required so that the trainees “do not perform tasks beyond those permitted by their student status” and are able to practice safely and professionally.

Student involvement, whether at beginning or advanced levels of training, benefits the inmates and facility health staff, and gives the students an excellent introduction to the correctional health care field, whether or not they choose to work in this end of the public health continuum.

— From CorrectCare Volume 19, Issue 2, Spring 2005