Nursing credentials attribute hard-earned degrees, licensure, certifications and other recognitions to your name. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) developed a standardized way of listing the six basic types of credentials in the nursing field. These follow your name in an agreed-upon order: degree, licensure, state designations, national certifications, awards and honors, and skills relevant to your work.
Adhering to these industry standards enables health care providers, government officials, third-party payers and patients to understand the full scope of your professional abilities. If representatives from these organizations cannot see your accomplishments listed in a clear and consistent manner, it could impact your ability to find employment.
By following these suggested tips, it will help you properly display your nursing credentials, jump start your career in nursing and get the job you want. The six credential types are discussed in their suggested sequence.
1. Degree: Your highest earned degree should be listed first following your name. Your educational background is permanent, in contrast to other credentials (and is only rarely removed). Degrees should be listed as follows:
- Doctoral degrees – Ph.D., D.Ph., Ed.D., D.N.S and D.N.P.
- Master’s degrees – M.S.N., M.S. and M.A.
- Bachelor’s degrees – B.S.N, B.S. and B.A.
- Associate degrees – A.D., A.D.N.
It is up to each individual as to whether they wish to list all of their degrees.
2. Licensure: Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) are listed following your degree. The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Board Certified (APRN, BC) is recommended by the ANCC. It certifies family, adult, pediatric, geriatric and acute-care nurses.
Another common license is Nurse Practitioner-Certified (NP-C). It’s issued by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
3. State Designations/Requirements: These are similar to licensure, but represent your authority in more advanced practices in particular states. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) are state designations. Nursing licensure information by state is available at NursingLicensure.org.
4. National Certification: National titles follow state designations. These are awarded through entities such as the ANCC. Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) and Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC) are national accreditations. Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are designated as CPNP.
5. Awards/Honors: Outstanding achievements may be recognized by a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) or Fellow of Critical Care Medicine (FCCM).
6. Other Certifications: These may not directly involve nursing, but indicate skills relevant to your line of work. Examples include computer skills, editor or Emergency Medical Technician certifications.
Credentials and Proper Nursing Documentation
Each state dictates the nursing credentials required to practice there. The RN credential is generally standard, while national certification credentials are required in most states. Those with advanced credentials, however, may not have to list an RN designation.
Legal nursing documentation has stricter standards, particularly in relation to writing prescriptions and progress reports. Basic M.S.N. job titles, however, require your credentials to look something like this: Your name, M.S.N., RN, CPNP. Others such as FNP-BC or FAAN come later.
Listing Multiple Credentials
Some nurses choose to list multiple degrees, although one is usually sufficient. It might pay to list a degree in a separate but relevant field. The highest non-nursing degree goes first, while non-nursing certifications go last. Order of relevance may be dependent on the nursing jobs for which you apply, or you can arrange them chronologically.
Also note: listing your credentials properly is not just for your career. Patients can see them on your name tag and instantly know your level of expertise. Your credentials also come into play when giving professional presentations.
There are more than 90 different nursing certifications. In addition to state-mandated credentials, you can pursue any number of others plus credentials in separate fields. There’s no limit. Practical knowledge and skills are learned through your education. These nursing documentation tips, however, will help you to better promote your experience and credentials in the field.
Benedictine University Online offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that prepares students for roles in nurse education and administration. For more information or to apply, contact a program manager at (866) 295-3104.