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Forty-seven states require nurse practitioners to have a master’s degree which then enables them to sit for a national board certification examination. Most states require an active registered nurse (RN) license in addition to a national board certification to enable to practice as an NP. The RN and NP license must be issued from the same state. If you are planning on practicing in another state after graduation, you will want to apply for an RN license in that state as well. In 2015 the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing approved the APRN Compact which allows an advanced practice RN to hold one multistate license with a privilege to practice in other compact states. In 2015 the APRN Compact became available for specific states (Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota).1 This is a continuing process with more states anticipating participation in a multistate licensure process.

Currently there are seven National Certifying Organizations (Table 2-1).

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TABLE 2-1 National Certifying Organizations

Certifying organization


Certification examinations offered

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)

  • Board, Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care

  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner

American Association of Critical Care Nursesv (AACN)

  • Acute Care (recertification only), Adult-Gerontology

  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

American Midwifery Certification Board

  • Certified Midwife

  • Certified Nurse Midwife

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

Acute Care (recertification only), Adult (recertification only), Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Adult Psych-Mental Health, Psychiatric -Mental Health (across the lifespan) Emergency, Family, Gerontology, Pediatric Primary Care, and School Nurse Practitioners

National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Women’s Health Care and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation

Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

Acute and Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

As mentioned previously, have a discussion with your faculty regarding which certification organization is appropriate for your specific educational tract. The APRN Consensus Model requires alignment in licensure, education, and certification. Always review the specific certification organization websites for the most up-to-date information. Review the specific application packet completely. The application may be completed on paper or online. Some of the certifying bodies have completely eliminated a paper submission. Before submission, review your application for accuracy and completeness. Utilize checklists if they are provided. It is helpful to have all of your documentation organized prior to completing the necessary paperwork.


You will need specific information on courses completed, course number, credit hours, and year taken (this is where those documentation logs you completed come in handy). You may have this information in your portfolio as well. Each NP specialty has a specific minimum number of clinical hours required for their national board certification (e.g., Adult-Gerontology 500 clinical hours). University programs may require additional hours to complete their specific program. This clinical hour ...

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