nursing credentials

Nursing Credentials and Certifications

What are nursing credentials and certifications?

These are the different credentials and certifications that an individual must possess or obtain in order to practice the nursing profession in accordance with the law.

Post-nominal Letters

Post-nominal characters are the abbreviations listed after a nurse’s name. They reflect the nurse’s credentials. What are these credentials?

  1. Achievements in nursing school or education
  2. Licenses
  3. Certifications
  4. Fellowships

In the academe, abbreviations are arranged in the following order: theological degrees, academic degrees earned in the course, and honorary degrees in order of bestowal.

In the nursing profession, these letters traditionally appear in the following sequence:

  1. Highest academic degree earned in nursing or in a related field, for example: “DNP” or “Ph.D.”
  2. Nursing Licensure, for example: “RN”
  3. Nursing Certification, for example: “CCRN”
  4. Nursing Fellowship, for example: “FAAN”

Nursing credentials are separated from the person’s name and from each other with commas. There are typically no periods within the credentials. For example, Bachelor of Science in Nursing should be written as “BSN” and not “B.S.N.”.

Moreover, nursing credentials are commonly listed from the most permanent up to the least. Once a degree is earned, it cannot be taken away under normal circumstances. State licensure can only be revoked for the grounds of serious professional misconduct.

nursing credentials and certifications

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Nursing certifications on the other hand must be renewed through examination on a recurring basis or through the completion of a prescribed number of continuing education units, otherwise known as CEUs. This is oftentimes referred to as the “maintenance of certification” or MOC. The number of prescribed number of continuing education units are generally decided by the state. In the State of California, for example, nurses are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

As per the CBRN or the California Board of Registered Nursing,

“In the State of California, Registered nurses are required by law (California Code of Regulations, Section 1451, Article 5) to complete 30 contact hours of continuing education every two years, in addition to paying the renewal fee, to maintain an active license. Continuing education courses must have been completed during the preceding renewal period (when renewing), or during the preceding two years (when renewing a delinquent or lapsed license, or going from an inactive to active license). Courses must be taken through a continuing education provider recognized by the Board of Registered Nursing.”

nursing credentials and certifications

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Nurses may also hold non-nursing credentials. This includes academic degrees not related to or outside the nursing profession. They are typically elided unless they are related to a nurse’s job. For an instance, a nurse with a master’s degrees usually do not list his or her bachelor’s degrees. Listing only the highest earned degree. Another example is a staff nurse would likely not list an Master of Business Administration degree, but a nurse manager might elect to do so.

Lastly, some nurses who achieve a master’s degree in nursing or an MSN withdraw from patient care and enact in a more managerial role.



About Educate Simplify

Educate Simplify was founded in 2006 and offers an array of educational services in association with the American Heart Association and Consumer Boards of Health Professionals.

Continuing Education is our core product.

Our mission is to build on each individual health provider’s drive and capacity to further their education and career.

We understand the impact of each health provider’s educational advancement on their profession as a whole.



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