USPHS Commissioned Officer Earns NCCHC’s Highest Certification: CCHP-A

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Posted Mar 19, 2019

Misty Rios

Misty Rios, APRN, FNP-C, CCHP-MH, CCHP-A, joined the elite ranks of Advanced CCHPs on January 1, after taking the exam at the National Conference on Correctional Health Care last October. An 18-year veteran of the field, she had already earned basic CCHP and specialty certification, but she did not stop there. When asked what made her pursue advanced certification, she says, “It shows my dedication to progress and excellence in correctional health care.”

Professional Growth Through the Years
Rios’ first job in correctional health was with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in a one-year drug offender program in a small, rural town. Upon receiving her commission with the U.S. Public Health Service in 2006, she was assigned to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. For the next 11 years, she worked in three BOP facilities in three states, first as a registered nurse and then as family nurse practitioner after completing her advanced degree and earning national board certification.

In 2016 Rios transferred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Services Corps, where she now serves as the health services administrator for one of the largest IHSC facilities in the country. As HSA, she is the designated health care authority overseeing all medical, dental and mental health operations for the facility, including medical staffing and meeting NCCHC accreditation standards.

The facility houses 1,850 adult male and female detainees and provides 24-hour medical care. In addition to treating conditions often encountered in the community at large—such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV—the medical staff also see a large number of detainees with substantial trauma histories, resulting in an increased need for mental health interventions.

From Basic to Specialty to Advanced
Rios learned about the CCHP program at her first NCCHC conference and became excited at the prospect of demonstrating her expertise in this “unique and specialized field of medicine” through certification. She earned her CCHP in 2013 and her CCHP–Mental Health credential in 2014. Last year she decided to challenge herself even further by taking the CCHP–Advanced exam.

She believes correctional health professionals should be proud of the work they do and should continually seek ways to help improve the field. “Earning CCHP status is one way to do this,” she says.

For Rios, along with the personal satisfaction that comes with bettering the field, rising through the CCHP ranks has resulted in achieving professional milestones. Rios says certification has played a significant role in developing her career: “I believe the CCHP credential has helped advance my career by better preparing me to accept positions with higher levels of responsibility,” she says. “It has given me the confidence to seek these positions and to take on whatever challenges I encounter along the way.”

CCHPs are eligible to apply for the CCHP-A exam after being certified for at least three years in the basic program. The advanced CCHP program is designed to gauge experience in and knowledge of the delivery of health care services in correctional settings. It requires the completion of a detailed application and a passing score on a proctored essay examination.

This article was written by Katie Przychodzen, MA, CCHP, NCCHC’s marketing and communications manager. It first appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of CorrectCare, Vol. 33, Issue 1.