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What’s the Correct Way to Display Nursing Credentials?

Written by Ashworth College on Monday, 02 July 2018. Posted in Healthcare

What’s the Correct Way to Display Nursing Credentials?

Nurses love initials. Specifically, they love the initials “RN.” And for good reason: It takes a lot of hard work to earn a nursing license, and it takes even more dedication to keep that credential.

But being a nurse can involve many more initials than just “RN.” How about BSN? Or NP? CCRN, anyone?

When it comes to how to display your nursing credentials, you might be surprised to learn there is a standardized way to do it. You should always check first with your employer to find out if they require the credentials to be displayed in a certain order on the badge. And journal publishers may have their own guidelines. But for other purposes, such as your email signature or a speaking engagement, you can follow these steps to make sure you’ve listed your nursing credentials in the right order.

  1. Start with Your Degree

    According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a nurse’s list of credentials should always begin with the educational degree. Why? Because it’s considered a “permanent” credential. You could give up or lose your nursing license, certifications, or awards, but you almost can’t lose your educational degree, so list that first: “BSN, RN.”

    If you have multiple nursing degrees, list the highest educational degree you’ve earned: “MSN, RN.” The ANCC says you don’t need to list multiple nursing degrees in your credentials. In other words, you likely had to earn a bachelor’s degree before you could apply to a master’s program, so there’s no need to list “MSN, BSN, RN.” That could get unwieldy.

    What if you’re a second-career nurse who already earned a degree in something else? If a degree in another discipline represents your highest degree, list it first: “MEd, RN” or “PhD, RN.” You don’t have to list non-nursing degrees in your credentials, but it may be useful for purposes outside of nursing. For instance, if you pursue a master’s in business administration and then go into healthcare management, you might want to list your credentials as “MBA, MSN, RN.” If you choose to include a non-nursing degree in your credentials, it should be listed first unless it’s a lower degree level than your highest nursing degree. For instance, you would not list a bachelor’s of business administration ahead of your MSN.

  2. Next List Your License

    This step is easy. Whether it’s RN or LPN/LVN, your licensure designation should follow your educational degrees when listing your credentials. Note that while some states refer to advanced practice “licenses” for nurses, the ANCC actually calls those “designations,” which happen to come next.

  3. Add Those State Designations

    Advanced practice nurses, in particular, may obtain state designations like NP or APRN. These designations should immediately follow your licensure: “MSN, RN, APRN.”

  4. Follow with National Certifications

    As you settle in to a clinical career path, you might pursue various relevant certifications, such as Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) or Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse. Whatever national certifications you achieve, list them next in your credentials: “BSN, RN, CNOR, CPHON®.” You can list as many certifications as you feel are relevant to your current practice.

  5. And Lastly, Awards and Honors

    You may have seen nurses at conferences displaying the FAAN designation in their credentials. This fellowship is conferred by the American Academy of Nursing to oustanding nursing leaders across the U.S. If you receive a nationally recognized nursing award or an honor like a FAAN fellowship, this credential should be displayed last on your list: “PhD, MSN, RN, NP, FAAN.”

What’s the First Step to Earning a String of Initials After Your Name?

For every nurse who earned a lengthy list of initials after her name, the journey began with the same step: education. If you want to advance your career and earn certifications, start by getting your BSN degree. Our flexible online RN to BSN program makes it easier than you can imagine.

Learn more about the online RN to BSN program at the Madison School of Healthcare: Talk to an admissions advisor today!

About the Author

Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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