How to List Your Nursing Credentials (With Examples)

8 Min Read Published June 11, 2024
Pen resting on notepad with stethoscope nearby

Your nursing credentials and how you display them are incredibly important. They indicate that you have the education and certification to do a particular type of nursing. This article will explain how to properly list them and include examples to show you exactly how yours should be written.

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WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

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Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
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CCNE
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Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Why How You List Your Nursing Credentials Matters

“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,” says the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) , a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).

To help avoid any confusion as to which designations should get top billing, there is a specific procedure for displaying your credentials in a uniform way. This is a step-by-step guide to understanding and displaying your nursing credentials (as recommended from the American Nursing Association).

How to List Your Nursing Credentials

Let’s use the example of this nurse: Margaret Miranda, MSN, RN, APRN, OCN

1. Start with Education

Immediately following someone’s name, start by listing the highest earned degree. Educational degrees are the most important because they are permanent. Once you earn them, they stay with you throughout your professional life.

If you’ve earned a non-nursing degree, that is usually not included unless it’s somehow directly related to your nursing job. One example of a relevant, non-nursing degree might be if you are a nurse manager and you earned your MBA.

If you do wish to list a second degree, it should follow your highest nursing degree. Using the example at the beginning, Margaret Miranda has a Master of Science in Nursing; thus, the letters MSN follow her name.

2. Licensure

Next up is your licensure (e.g. “RN” “LPN”). To be a practicing nurse, your educational accomplishments are not enough. You must become licensed. Therefore, you must include if you’re an RN or an LPN immediately following your degree. Margaret Miranda is a Registered Nurse; therefore, the letters RN follow her educational degree (MSN).

3. Specialty

If you’ve gone on to earn any additional advanced nursing specialization, you’ll want to list that designation next. These acronyms might include things like APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse), NP (Nurse Practitioner), and CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist). Margaret Miranda is also an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse; therefore, the letters APRN follow her licensure as an RN.

Some nursing specialties also require national certification from an accredited certifying body. Some nurses decide to take a particular certification that sometimes shows a higher level of knowledge in that specialty and that’s where this next credential listing comes into play.

Examples of national certifications include Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN), Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC) Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) and Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (AGCNS-BC). If you have more than one certification, you can either list them in order of relevance to your current practice, or in the order you obtained them.

Margaret Miranda is also an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN), so the letters OCN follow the letters APRN.

Style Notes

So now that you know the order in which you should list your nursing credentials, what will your signature actually look like written out? Here’s an easy rule to remember: Credentials should be comma-separated from your name and each other, and they do not include periods. Returning to our prior example:

 Margaret Miranda, MSN, RN, APRN, OCN

When Should I Include My Nursing Credentials?

While it’s not necessary to include a laundry list of credentials every time you sign a check or your kids’ homework, you’ll need to use them when you’re on the job. Most importantly, you include your credentials on any legal medical documents you sign, including prescriptions, medical charts, and patient records.

Another time you should list your nursing credentials is if you submit a paper to a nursing journal, since it’s important to show that you have expertise in the subject you’re writing about.

Nursing is all about being well-educated, keeping patient care skills fresh, and achieving career goals through certification. As you keep tacking on more and more professional accomplishments, don’t be shy about adding more letters to your signature. After all, you worked hard to earn them, representing all of the knowledge and experience you’ve accumulated over the years.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

FAQs 

  • What order do you list nursing credentials in?

    • The preferred order of credentials is: 1. Highest earned educational degree 2. Licensure 3. State designations or requirements 4. National certifications 5. Awards and honors and 5. Other non-nursing recognitions.
  • What credentials should you list?

    • According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center you should list your highest earned educational earned degree (ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP), your licensure (RN, LPN/LVN), state designations or requirements, and national certifications, and finally awards and honors. 
  • What to do if you have more than one type of the same credential?

    • List the highest degree first. For example, if you have a DNP and a MSN - it should be listed as Name DNP, MSN. Because DNP and MSN degrees are in the same field most individuals will only list the highest degree. However, if you have a DNP and MBA (two unrelated degrees), both should be listed. Multiple nursing certifications such as CCRN, RNC, CPON may all be listed but it is suggested to list the most relevant certifications to your practice first. Interestingly, most nurses list them in order of preference or when they earned the certification. Regardless, always list non-nursing certifications last. 
  • What are the most common nursing credentials?

    • Credentials can be broken down into several categories including education, licensure, state designations or requirements, national certifications, awards and honors and other non-nursing certifications. 

Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, parenting, and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, WomansDay.com, Parents, CreditCards.com, and more.

 

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