How to Display Your Credentials
How to display
Common questions and
answers about displaying
your credentials in the
why do we need a standard
way to list credentials?
Having a standard way ensures that everyone—
including nurses, healthcare providers, consumers,
third-party payers, and government officials—
understands the significance and value of credentials.
what is the preferred order of credentials?
The preferred order is:
Highest earned degree
Awards and honors
State designations or requirements
why is this order recommended?
The education degree comes first because it is
a “permanent” credential, meaning it cannot be
taken away except under extreme circumstances.
The next two credentials (licensure and state
designations/requirements) are required for you
to practice. National certification is sometimes
voluntary, and awards, honors, and other
recognitions are always voluntary.
what are examples of credentials?
educational degrees include doctoral degrees
(PhD, DrPH, DNS, EdD, DNP), master’s degrees
(MSN, MS, MA), bachelor’s degrees (BS, BSN, BA),
and associate degrees (AD, ADN).
licensure credentials include RN and LPN.
state designations or requirements recognize
authority to practice at a more advanced level in
that state and include APRN (Advanced Practice
Registered Nurse), NP (Nurse Practitioner), and
CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist).
national certification, which is awarded through
accredited certifying bodies such as the American
Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), includes RN-
BC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) and FNP-BC
(Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified).
awards and honors recognize outstanding
achievements in nursing such as FAAN (Fellow
of the American Academy of Nursing).
other certifications include non-nursing
certifications that recognize additional skills. One
example is the EMT-Basic/EMT, awarded by the
National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.
what credentials do i Have to use?
On legal documents such as prescriptions and notes
on medical records, you must use the credentials
required by your state for your area of practice, for
example, Susan Jones, RN, or Joyce Smith, APRN.
In professional endeavors such as speaking,
writing for publication, or providing testimony
before a legislative body, use all your relevant
credentials. Note that journals sometimes order
credentials differently, and it is acceptable to
conform to their style.
what if i Have More than one
of the same type of credential?
List the highest education degree first, for example,
Michael Anderson, PhD, MSN. In most cases, one
degree is enough, but if your second degree is in
another relevant field, you may choose to list it. For
example, a nurse executive might choose Nancy
Gordon, MBA, MSN, RN. Note that the highest non-
nursing degree is listed first followed by the highest
nursing degree. A nurse who has a master’s in a non-
nursing field might choose Anne Peterson, MEd,
BSN, RN. If you have a doctorate and a master’s
degree, omit your baccalaureate degree.
Multiple nursing certifications may be listed in the
order you prefer, but consider listing them either in
order of relevance to your practice or in the order
they were obtained, with the most recent first.
Always list non-nursing certifications last.
American Academy of Nursing. Credential Use Guidelines. http://www.aannet.org/
files/public/Credential_Use.pdf. n.d. Accessed June 20, 2011.
American Medical Association. AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and
Editors. 10th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007.
American Nurses Association. Credentials for the Professional Nurse: Determining
a Standard Order of Credentials for the Professional Nurse. Effective date:
December 11, 2009.
American Nurses Credentialing Center. http://www.nursecredentialing.org.
Accessed June 20, 2011.
APRN Consensus Work Group & the National Council of State Boards of Nursing
APRN Advisory Committee. Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure,
Accreditation, Certification & Education. July 7, 2008. https://www.ncsbn.org/
Consensus_Model_for_APRN_RegulationJuly_2008.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
Smolenski M. Playing the Credentials Game. Silver Spring, Md.: American Nurses
Credentialing Center. 2008.
practice excellence through credentialing
The mission of the American Nurses Credentialing Center
(ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association
(ANA), is to promote excellence in nursing and health
care globally through credentialing programs. ANCC’s
internationally renowned credentialing programs certify
and recognize individual nurses in specialty practice
areas. It recognizes healthcare organizations that promote
nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes while
providing safe, positive work environments. In addition,
ANCC accredits healthcare organizations that provide
and approve continuing nursing education. ANCC’s
Credentialing Knowledge Center™ offers educational
materials to support nurses and organizations as they
work toward their credentials.
ANCC’s Certification Program enables nurses to
demonstrate their specialty expertise and validate their
knowledge to employers and patients. Through targeted
exams and portfolios that incorporate the latest clinical
practices, ANCC certification empowers nurses with
pride and professional satisfaction.
8515 Georgia Ave., Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492
ANCC is the only nurse credentialing organization
to successfully achieve ISO 9001:2008 certification
in the design, development, and delivery of global
credentialing services and support products for
nurses and healthcare organizations.
©2013 American Nurses Credentialing Center.
All rights reserved.
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