Nursing Board Certification

A nurse's postnominal (listed after the name) credentials usually follow his or her name in this order:

  • Highest earned academic degree in or related to nursing (e.g. "MSN")
  • Nursing licensure (e.g. "RN")
  • Nursing certification (e.g. "CCRN")

Generally credentials are listed from most to least permanent. A degree, once earned, cannot, in normal circumstances, be taken away. State licensure is only revoked for serious professional misconduct. Certifications generally must be periodically renewed by examination or the completion of a prescribed number of continuing education units (CEUs).

Nurses may also hold non-nursing credentials including academic degrees. These are usually omitted unless they are related to the nurse's job. For instance, a staff nurse would likely not list an MBA, but a nurse manager might choose to do so.

Some nurses who achieve a master's degree (MSN) leave the patient care aspect of nursing, and practice in a more administrative role. An example would be earning an MSN in health care risk management. Such a nurse, while still fully an accredited nurse, will likely become the risk manager for a hospital, and perhaps even the director or manager of the risk management department. In this role, he may never see another patient except while doing hospital inspections, or perhaps talking to a patient or the patient's family about a quality of care concern. In this role, the nurse becomes something similar to an auditor and a teacher of patient care quality and risk for the entire hospital staff. This nurse likely will also get the certification listed below: CPHQ: Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

Nursing credentials are separated from the person's name (and from each other) with commas. There are usually no periods within the credentials (e.g. "BSN" not "B.S.N.").

Nursing certifications

In the United States and Canada, many nurses who choose a specialty become certified in that area, signifying that they possess expert knowledge. There are over 200 nursing specialties and subspecialties. Studies from the Institute of Medicine have demonstrated that specialty-certified nurses have higher rates of patient satisfaction, as well as lower rates of work-related errors in patient care.

Registered nurses (RNs) are not required to be certified in a certain specialty by law. For example, it is not necessary to be a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) (a medical surgical nursing certification) to work on a Medical-Surgical (MedSurg) floor, and most MedSurg nurses are not CMSRNs. Certifications do, however, instill professionalism and make the nurse more attractive to prospective and current employers. Certified nurses may earn a salary differential over their non-certified colleagues but this is rare.

Some hospitals and other health care facilities are willing to pay a certified nurse extra when he or she works within their specialty. Also, some hospitals may require certain nurses, such as nursing supervisors or lead nurses, be certified. Certification instills confidence in the nurses. Magnet hospitals advocate certifications.


Alphabetical listing of nursing and related credentials and certifications


  • AAS: Associate of Applied Science
  • AAN: Associate of Arts in Nursing
  • ABQAURP: CHCQM - Board Certification in Health Care Quality and Management
  • ACLS: Advanced Cardiac Life Support (not intended for postnominal use)
  • ACNP-BC: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified
  • ACNPC: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification
  • ACNS-BC: Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist - Board Certified
  • ACHRN: Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse
  • ACRN: AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
  • ADLS: Advanced Disaster Life Support
  • ADN: Associate Degree in Nursing
  • ALNC: Advanced Legal Nurse Cosultant
  • ANLC: Advanced Nurse Lactation Consultant
  • ANP-BC: Adult Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified
  • ANVP: Advanced NeuroVascular Practitioner
  • AOCN: Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse
  • AOCNP: Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • AOCNS: Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • APHN-BC: Advanced Public Health Nurse-Board Certified
  • APN: Advanced Practice Nurse
  • ARNP: Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
  • ASN: Associate of Science in Nursing
  • APRN: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse



  • CANP: Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • CATN-P: Course in Advanced Trauma Nursing -Provider (not intended for postnominal use)
  • CATN-I: Course in Advanced Trauma Nursing -Instructor (not intended for postnominal use)
  • CAPA: Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia nurse
  • CARN: Certified Addictions Registered Nurse
  • CBCN: Certified Breast Care Nurse
  • CBN: Certified Bariatric Nurse
  • CCCN: Certified Continence Care Nurse
  • CCM: Certified Case Manager
  • CCNS: Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • CCRN: Certified Critical Care Nurse
  • CCTC: Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator
  • CCTN: Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse
  • CTRN: Certified Critical Care Transportation Nurse
  • CDDN: Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse
  • CDE: Certified Diabetes Educator
  • CDMS: Certified Disability Management Specialist
  • CDN: Certified Dialysis Nurse
  • CDONA/LTC: Certified Director of Nursing Administration/Long Term Care
  • C-EFM: Certified in Electronic Fetal Monitoring
  • CEN: Certified Emergency Nurse
  • CENP: Certified Executive in Nursing Practice
  • CETN: Certified Enterostomal Therapy Nurse
  • CFCN: Certified Foot Care Nurse
  • CFN: Certified Forensic Nurse
  • CFNP: Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
  • CFRN: Certified Flight Registered Nurse
  • CHES: Certified Health Education Specialist
  • CGN: Certified Gastroenterology Nurse
  • CGRN: Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse
  • CHN: Certified Hemodyalisis Nurse
  • CHPN: Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse
  • CHRN: Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse
  • CIC: Certified in Infection Control
  • CLC: Certified Lactation Counselor
  • CLNC: Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
  • CMA: Certified Medical Assistant
  • CM: Certified Midwife
  • CMC: Cardiac Medicine Certification
  • CMCN: Certified Managed Care Nurse
  • CMDSC: Certified MDS Coordinator
  • CMSRN: Certified Medical—Surgical Registered Nurse
  • CNA: Certified in Nursing Administration
  • CNE: Certified Nurse Educator
  • CNL: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • CNLCP: Certified Nurse Life Care Planner
  • CNM: Certified Nurse Midwife
  • CNML: Certified Nurse Manager and Leader
  • CNN: Certified in Nephrology Nursing
  • CNOR: Certified Nurse, Operating Room
  • CNO: Chief Nursing Officer
  • CNP: Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • C-NPT: Certified in Neonatal Pediatric Transport
  • CNRN: Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse
  • CNS: Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • CNSN: Certified Nutrition Support Nurse
  • COCN: Certified Ostomy Care Nurse
  • COHN: Certified Occupational Health Nurse
  • COHN/CM: Certified Occupational Health Nurse/Case Manager
  • COHN-S: Certified Occupational Health Nurse—Specialist
  • COHN-S/CM: Certified Occupational Health Nurse—Specialist/Case Manager
  • CORLN: Certified Otorhinolaryngology Nurse
  • CPAN: Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse
  • CPDN: Certified Peritoneal Dialysis Nurse
  • CPEN: Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse
  • CPHON: Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse
  • CPHQ: Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality
  • CPN: Certified Pediatric Nurse
  • CPNA: Certified Pediatric Nurse Associate
  • CPNL: Certified Practical Nurse, Long-term care
  • CPNP: Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • CPON: Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse
  • CPSN: Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse
  • CRN: Certified Radiologic Nurse
  • CRNA: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • CRNFA: Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant
  • CRNI: Certified Registered Nurse Intravenous
  • CRNL: Certified Registered Nurse, Long-term care
  • CRNO: Certified Registered Nurse in Ophthalmology
  • CRNP: Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner
  • CRRN: Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse
  • CRRN-A: Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse—Advanced
  • CS: Clinical Specialist
  • CSC: Cardiac Surgery Certification
  • CSHA: Certified Specialist in Hospital Accreditation
  • C-SPI: Certified Specialist in Poison Information
  • CT: Certified in Thanatology (dying, death and bereavement)
  • CTN: Certified Transcultural Nurse
  • CTRN: Certified Transport Registered Nurse
  • CTRS: Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist
  • CUA: Certified Urologic Associate
  • CUCNS: Certified Urologic Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • CUNP: Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner
  • CURN: Certified Urologic Registered Nurse
  • CVN: Certified Vascular Nurse
  • CWCN: Certified Wound Care Nurse
  • CWOCN: Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse
  • CWS: Certified Wound Specialist




  • FAAN: Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • FAAPM: Fellow, American Academy of Pain Management
  • FAEN: Fellow, Academy of Emergency Nursing
  • FNC: Family Nurse Clinician
  • FNP-C: Family Nurse Practitioner (Certified by AANP)
  • FNP-BC: Family Nurse Practitioner (Certified by ANCC)
  • FPNP: Family Planning Nurse Practitioner
  • FRCN: Fellow, Royal College of Nursing
  • FRCNA: Fellow, Royal College of Nursing, Australia


  • GN: Graduate Nurse (awaiting RN licensure)
  • GNP: Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • GPN: General Pediatric Nurse
  • GPN: Graduate Practical Nurse
  • GRN: Graduate Registered Nurse


  • HACP: Hospital Accreditation Certified Professional
  • HNC: Holistic Nurse, Certified


  • IBQH: International Board for Quality in Healthcare
  • IBCLC: International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
  • ICC: Intensive Care Certification
  • INC: Intensive Neonatal Care certification
  • IPN: Immunisation Program Nurse: Queensland Australia specialist qualification / endorsement


  • LCCE: Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator
  • LNC: Legal Nurse Consultant
  • LNCC: Legal Nurse Consultant, Certified
  • LNP: Licensed Nurse Practitioner—Used by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Board of Nursing, as a license status[1]
  • LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse
  • LSN: Licensed School Nurse
  • LTC: Long Term Care (LPN Specific)
  • LVN: Licensed Vocational Nurse


  • MA: Master of Arts
  • MAN: Master of Arts in Nursing
  • MICT: Master of Information and Communication Technology
  • ME: Menopause Educator
  • MEd: Masters in Education
  • MEmerg Nsg: Masters Degree in Emergency Nursing Australia
  • MHN: Mental Health Nurse—Registered Nurse Endorsed to practice Advanced nursing in Mental Health [1]
  • MICN: Mobile Intensive Care Nurse
  • MN: Master of Nursing
  • MPH: Master of Public Health
  • MRCNA: Member, Royal College of Nursing, Australia
  • MS: Master of Science
  • MSN: Master of Science in Nursing
  • MSN/Ed: Master of Science in Nursing Education


  • NC-BC: Nurse Coach Board Certified
  • NCSN: National Certified School Nurse
  • NE-BC: Nurse Executive-Board Certified
  • NEA-BC: Nurse Executive Advanced-Board Certified
  • NNP-BC: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • NPC: Nurse Practitioner, Certified
  • NPP: Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric
  • NVRN: NeuroVascular Registered Nurse
  • NZCFN: New Zealand Certified Flight Nurse


  • OCN: Oncology Certified Nurse
  • ONC: Orthopaedic Nurse Certified


  • PALS: Pediatric Advanced Life Support (not intended for postnominal use)
  • PCCN: Progressive Care Certified Nurse
  • PCNS: Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy
  • PHN: Public Health Nurse
  • PHRN: Pre-Hospital Registered Nurse
  • PMHN-BC: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse
  • PMHNP-BC: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • PMHCNS-BC: Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • PNP-BC: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Board Certified
  • PNP-AC: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care



  • SANE-A: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent
  • SANE-P: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric
  • SEN: State Enrolled Nurse
  • SHN: Sexual and Reproductive Health endorsed RN—Queensland Australia
  • SN: Student Nurse (RN preparation)
  • SPN: Student Nurse (LPN preparation)
  • SRNA: Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist(CRNA preparation)
  • SVN: Student Nurse (LVN preparation)


  • TNCC-I: Trauma Nursing Core Course Instructor (not intended for postnominal use)
  • TNCC-P: Trauma Nursing Core Course Provider (not intended for postnominal use)
  • TNP: Telephone Nursing Practitioner
  • TNS: Trauma Nurse Specialist


  • WHNP-BC: Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner
  • WCC: Wound Care Certified
  • WOCN: Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse

See also

Nursing portal


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