What’s the best way for nurses to list credentials after their names?

By | 2021-02-17T12:33:09-05:00 September 9th, 2015|16 Comments

Hi Donna,

Can you tell me the correct way to list nursing credentials after my name? Does my RN come first or my BSN? I’ve seen it both ways, so I’m just wondering what is correct.

Wondering About Credentials


Dear Wondering About Credentials,

Either way is correct when writing out your name and credentials — Jane Doe, RN, BSN, or Jane Doe, BSN, RN. In the world of academia, the college degree is used first and then licensure and other credentials. But for the rest of us, both ways work.

Many nurses, including myself, prefer to use the RN first and the college degree next. So I sign my name as follows: Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional). Any certifications you have would go at the end.

If you were to eventually get an MSN or higher nursing degree, it is not necessary to also include a lower degree in the same major (e.g. BSN). However, there are nurses who have a BSN and then obtain an MBA or other non-nursing degree. They may want to indicate both degrees after their name, such as, Jane Doe, RN, BSN, MBA, although it is only necessary to list the highest degree, depending on the situation.

Some nurses have so many initials after their names that it is hard to sort through. I encourage nurses to keep it simple and leave the alphabet soup for your resume or CV.

If you are employed somewhere and are required to sign off on records, check with your employer’s policy about how they want you to sign your name and credentials.

Best wishes,


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About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of DonnaCardillo.com. Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.


  1. Avatar
    Nicholas M. Perrino February 28, 2016 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Hi Donna –

    Thank you for addressing this issue as a lot of nurses have this question. However, there was a “correct” way to display your credentials. You can referred to the American Nurses Association (ANA) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for the official nursing positions on this:



    • Avatar
      Dustin Williams October 25, 2019 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Thank you Nicholas! It drives me crazy that so many people still do not display their credentials correctly.

  2. Avatar
    Kate September 29, 2017 at 3:20 am - Reply

    Sorry Donna, but I kindly beg to differ. I strongly agree with Nick!!!

    If you were to Google “What is the correct order to list one’s nursing credentials” or consult any of the links listed here in the comments, you will find there IS a uniform/right way to do so, as Nick stated, or the wrong way to do so. Numerous institutions including Vanderbilt have also published helpful guides online for this.

    I absolutely *cringe* whenever I see very well-educated nurses accidentally list it in the incorrect order…almost like spelling one’s own name wrong on their own resume. Or mixing up there/they’re/their.

    It is important to get it right.

    • Avatar
      Jessica January 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Okay so based on the comments I am most confused, any input is much appreciated….I am an RN and have my BSN and my MBA….which is the correct way since my bachelors and masters are not in the same field I would like to list both…..

      Thank you,


  3. Avatar
    Harry Balzonia August 13, 2018 at 4:51 am - Reply

    It’s not necessary to list any credentials or degrees after your name. No one but you cares about this. The only reason one would put RN or whatever else after their name is because they think it is something prestigious and it’s not. It’s a 4 year degree at best. Sometimes just a 2 year. Big deal. The doctors you work with don’t care either.

    • Avatar
      Alisson September 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      your so miserable….it must suck to be you 🙁

      • Avatar
        Cheryl Blakeslee September 29, 2021 at 3:54 pm - Reply

        Yes, this was not professionally addressed.

    • Avatar
      dena January 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      this is pretty horrible to say. were you rejected by nursing schools? The signature does matter-especially when I sign my name to something (for work)…oh but you aren’t obviously educated enough to understand why this matters. have a great life.

      • Avatar
        Daniel Gast May 13, 2021 at 9:27 pm - Reply

        I was thinking the exact same thing! There are several legal reasons just off the top that I can think of. Why explain to this person as, this one didn’t even think to research before making such it a comment.

    • Avatar
      Caroline July 11, 2019 at 2:38 am - Reply

      wow clearly you hate you’re life

  4. Avatar
    Brittney Taylor, BSN, RN October 16, 2018 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Donna,

    This post may be a bit misleading as we now have a certifying body that says there is a proper way to order your nursing credentials. Please review the post below:




  5. Avatar
    James Wells January 6, 2019 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    According to the ANCC:

    The preferred order is:
    Highest earned degree
    State designations or requirements
    National certifications
    Awards and honors
    Other recognitions
    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

  6. Avatar
    Ben May 7, 2020 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I’m not so sure for those of us who are not nurses (pre-nurse or other medical student). I don’t think it matters that much but maybe on resume, etc. I would assume.

    Would it be Name, AS, CPT-1, CCMA, NCPT, BLS?

    I guess no periods in the degree.

    I don’t have any body for credentialing, I guess. Is there is a generic way? I guess I’ll use this?

  7. Avatar
    Malinda Aberle July 20, 2020 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Speaking from a credentialing point of view. You should always list the highest degree earned first. Once a degree is conferred you will never lose that distinction. Licensure can and sometimes does ebb and flow. At the end of your career you may no longer be licensed by a licensing body but you will always have your BSN, etc.

  8. Avatar
    Paula Johnson December 16, 2020 at 10:19 am - Reply

    I started working as a unit RN, but I have my MSN and was wondering if I am suppose to sign my name RN, MSN or leave the MSN off. They are acknowledging my MSN but I feel like I earned it I should display it. Any advice?

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