'Se habla español': CCHP Program in Puerto Rico - National Commission on Correctional Health Care
CCHP PRDec 1, 2022

‘Se habla español’: CCHP Program in Puerto Rico

In response to growing enthusiasm for the CCHP program in Puerto Rico, NCCHC representatives traveled to the island in May to provide training on the NCCHC standards and administer the CCHP exam – en español.

This is not the first time that Physician Correctional, which provides health care services to Puerto Rico’s incarcerated population, has hosted NCCHC for two days of comprehensive CCHP test preparation followed by the exam. But it is the first time the exam was provided in Spanish.

“Even though the CCHP exam has been available in Puerto Rico for a long time, it had only been administered in English,” says Matissa Sammons, MA, CCHP, NCCHC’s vice president of certification. “I knew and hoped we would one day be able to better accommodate those examinees whose first language is Spanish. After all, the exam is meant to measure knowledge and competency of NCCHC’s standards, not mastery of the English language,” she says.

Spanish is the first official language of Puerto Rico and English is the second, though the English fluency rate is only around 20%. “We feel honored to be the first group to have this privilege and are very thankful to NCCHC for administering the exam in Spanish,” says Raul Villalobos, MD, CCHP, president of Physician Correctional. “Although our professionals understand all the NCCHC standards in English, they feel more confident answering the exam questions in Spanish, because it is our primary language.”

That confidence was well-founded: 98% of the Spanish-language test-takers passed the exam.

A Matter of Mission
Physician Correctional’s mission is to promote a process of change in the physical, mental, and dental health of all inmates, adults, and juveniles admitted to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Puerto Rico. Dr. Villalobos feels that CCHP certification is essential to meeting that mission.

“It is of optimal importance for our professionals to be certified as CCHPs to show our commitment to the best quality of care for our patients,” he says. “The NCCHC standards are the fundamental guidelines our professionals use and apply to the delivery of health care services. Our mission and vision are based on the standards, and every day we aspire to the highest quality of care.”   

Muchas Gracias and Many Thanks
“Thanks to the right leadership – who were open to this possibility and willing to make it happen – at the right time, along with the commitment of Physician Correctional in seeing employees trained and certified, the first Spanish-language exam was presented in Puerto Rico,” says Sammons. “I believed wholeheartedly that removing the language barrier would allow us to better measure these health care professionals’ knowledge, and I was right. Sometimes, just one word or nuance can change the entire meaning of what is being asked. I am inspired by their hard work and dedication.”

Special thanks to NCCHC Governance Board member Oscar Aviles, CJM, CE, CCHP, for translation services; and to Denise Rahaman, MBA, RN, CCHP-RN, CCHP-A, and Jim Martin, MPSA, CCHP, for excellence in training.

Learn more about the CCHP program and testing options.

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