Recently, Mark Hale, president and CEO of Wexford Health Sources Inc., which contracts medical services to all of Mississippi's state-run corrections operations, pledged to certify Mississippi's health care staff. Plans for this initiative began early in 2008, when staff from Wexford, the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) and the American Correctional Association began discussions about administering the nurse and nurse manager certification exams to the Wexford nursesemployed at three facilities across the state.
ACA's CCN and CCN/M programs offer nurses who work in corrections a unique opportunity to test their knowledge and skills in the specialty area of correctional nursing. Candidates qualify for the exam on the basis of their education and work experience. CCN candidates are line nurses in staff positions that do not require them to supervise other staff. They must be either a registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse or a licensed vocational nurse and have one year of correctional nursing experience in their current position. CCN/M candidates need to have an RN license in good standing with their state nursing board, and either an associate, bachelor's or master's degree in nursing or a three-year nursing diploma.
Wexford provided study materials for their candidates and gave them two to three months to prepare for the exam. The resource materials, as well as the exams, cover the following topics: conflict management, health care, legal issues, mental health, nursing practice, offender management/general information, securty/environment, standards/accreditation and the American Nursing Association's Corrections Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice.
April Meggs, RN, CCN/M, director of nursing and site manager at South Mississippi Correctional Institution, explains how she prepared for the exam.
"I prepared for the ACA certification exam over a five-week period. I basically just read the books like I was reading a novel. First, I read the table of contents so I could cross reference the books. I would make a note in the table of contents i.e., Chapter 12 Correctional Law and Chapter 15 Nursing Protocol both deal with security. I would flip between books to keep the subject the same. The idea was to keep my mind focused on one subject at a time, while tying all the different aspects of correctional medicine together. While reading, I would highlight areas of interest. For two weeks, all spare time was dedicated to...