As a nurse practitioner, you will be earning various credentials to showcase your expertise in the nursing field. Knowing how to display your hard-earned credentials after your name, both on your office door and on any printed material is important. Here’s a useful guide to help.
An Introduction to ANCC Nursing Credentials
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a leading organization that offers credentials via board certification. The ANCC also offers credentials for nurses who specialize in certain areas. By earning an ANCC credential, NPs can show that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality patient care. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) also offers board certification for NPs. National board certification is typically required by individual state boards as well as insurance carriers. Regardless of which credentials you decide to pursue, obtaining them will help advance your career and improve your patient outcomes.
Understanding Nursing Credential Abbreviations and Formats
The most common credential abbreviation in the nursing field is RN which stands for Registered Nurse. However, there are many other credentials, formats and abbreviations that you may encounter, such as BSN, FNP, and more.
In addition to knowing the meanings of these various credentials, it is also important to be familiar with the different formats that they may take. For instance, some credentials are earned through certification, while others are obtained by earning a degree from an accredited nursing program. Overwhelmed by all the acronyms? No worries, we will help you decipher what they mean:
- Registered Nurse (RN): Registered Nurses have passed the licensing board exam, NCLEX-RN, and have completed either a two- or four-year program to become a nurse.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have even more training and experience, typically a master’s or doctoral degree, and they provide a variety of services, including assessing, diagnosing, treating and managing conditions.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A BSN is a nursing degree that typically takes four years to complete. The BSN curriculum combines liberal arts and sciences courses with nursing education, preparing students for a career in nursing. The BSN program provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality patient care. Upon graduation, BSN-prepared nurses are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam and pursue a career as registered nurses.
- Master of Science of Nursing (MSN): The MSN is a degree earned by registered nurses who wish to pursue advanced nursing practice. The MSN can be earned in as little as two years after a bachelor’s degree and can prepare nurses for careers as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nursing informatics expert, and more. With an MSN degree, nurses can pursue careers that provide them with greater autonomy, higher salaries, and the opportunity to make a significant impact on the health care system.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD): DNP programs prepare nurses for clinical practice or leadership at the highest level, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to provide evidence-based care. Ph.D. programs, on the other hand, focus on research and inquiry, teaching students how to contribute to the body of nursing knowledge. Both DNP and PhD programs are highly respected and can open doors to exciting career opportunities.
Recommended Order of Nursing Credentials
Highest Degree Earned
Wondering how to write NP credentials? According to ANCC guidance, the highest educational degree should appear first when listing credentials. This makes sense, as it is the most important factor in determining an individual’s nursing qualifications. However, there are other factors that should also be considered when displaying credentials. For instance, if an individual has earned multiple degrees from different institutions, the order in which they appear should be determined by the date of each degree. In addition, the ANCC recommends that you should omit your BSN if you have a MSN or doctorate degree.
Following your education, licensure comes next. Licensure is the process of obtaining a license to practice nursing in a particular state. To be licensed, a nurse must pass an examination administered by the state board of nursing. The licensure process ensures that nurses have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe and effective care. Multi-state licensure also allows nurses to move freely from one state to another without having to retake the licensing examination.
State designations list advanced practices which a nurse can perform in their state. Common practices include nurse practitioner (NP) and clinical nurse specialist (CNS). In general, after completing an accredited NP program and passing a national certification exam, NPs must obtain a state-issued license before they can begin practicing.
Only a handful of states allow NPs to practice without a national certification. Although national certification is not always required, it is generally recommended as it can help NPs demonstrate their commitment to quality care and professional excellence.
Awards and Honors
The credibility of a NP is essential to their career. Patients trust that their NP will have the knowledge and experience to properly care for them. Therefore, it is in an NP’s best interest to ensure that their credentials only include information that is relevant to their career as a nurse. These can include the Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).
Other recognitions can include non-nursing licenses or certifications that highlight additional skills, such as an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.
How Do You Display More Than One Credential If They Are of the Same Type?
If you have more than one nursing credential of the same type, there are a few different ways that you can display them. You should highlight your highest education degree first, such as a MSN or PhD. You could also choose to highlight your most recent credential or the one that is most relevant to the position for which you are applying. Remember to keep non-nursing certifications at the end.
When Should You List Your Nursing Credentials?
Your nursing credentials are an important part of your professional identity. They not only demonstrate your competence and experience but also your commitment to your career. As a result, it is important to list your credentials correctly on your resume and other professional materials. However, deciding when to list your credentials can be tricky. If you have recently earned a credential, or are seeking a position in a new specialty, you may want to list it prominently on your resume. However, if you have been working in the same field for many years, you may want to downplay your credentials, instead highlighting your experience and achievements.
Listing your credentials is also essential when you are signing medical or legal documents, such as prescriptions, patient records, and medical charts. Similarly, if you are writing a nursing journal, displaying your credentials shows that you are an expert in the field.
Can You List Multiple Certifications?
If you’re thinking about how to write nurse practitioner credentials when you have multiple certifications, we’ve got you covered.
NPs can often specialize in more than one area. For example, some nurses may choose to become certified in Neonatal Intensive Care, while others may prefer to work with pediatrics or the elderly. In addition, NPs can often obtain multiple certifications by taking additional coursework or passing exams in specific areas.
Unless specified, it is generally not necessary to list every single certification that you hold. Instead, focus on highlighting the credentials that are most relevant to the position that you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a position in pediatric care, then you should highlight your certification as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP). Similarly, if you are applying for a position in a critical care unit, then your certification as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) would be more relevant than your certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). When listing your nursing credentials, make sure to highlight the qualifications that are most relevant to that position. Doing so will allow you to stand out from the competition and increase your chances of landing the job.
What are some of the types of certifications nurse practitioners may hold
- Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP or FNP-BC)
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (A-GNP or AGPCNP-BC)
- Adult Nurse Practitioner Certification (ANP-BC)
- Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Certification (GNP-BC)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-BC)
- Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (PPCNP-BC)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)
- Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
- Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP)
- Certified Nephrology Nurse-Nurse Practitioner (CNN-NP)
- Certified Ostomy Care Nurse-Advanced Practice (COCN-AP)
- Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (CPP-AC)
- Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner (CUNP)
- Certified Wound Care Nurse-Advanced Practice (CWCN-AP)
- Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse-Advanced Practice (CWON-AP)
- Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner (DCNP)
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP-BC)
- Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner-Certified (ONP-C)
- Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC)
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