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What’s the right way to list your nursing credentials?

Editor’s note: Author, Jennifer Mensik, does not endorse, recommend or favor any program, product or service advertised or referenced on this website, or that appear on any linkages to or from this website.

Credentials are a form of communication.

We have all seen multiple streams of initials after nurses’ names. This can make someone seem intimidating, especially if the credentials are paired with a long work title. A frequently asked question is how should nurses list their nursing credentials after their name? What do these initials mean? What initials do you include? Why do nurses feel the need to even do this? Is there a difference in listing credentials if a nurse is in academia versus service? Well, let me answer these questions for you.

First, we use initials to communicate some general knowledge about ourselves. I will use my own degrees and other credentials as example. (The American Nurses Credentialing Center also provides a great handout on this topic.)

The preferred order of credentials for all nurses, regardless of employment setting, is as follows:

• Highest degree earned

• Licensure

• State designations or requirements

• National certification

• Awards and honors

• Other recognitions

So, why this order? The order is in degree of permanence. The degree is first, as it cannot be taken away unless in rare circumstances. Then, your license, which is required for you to practice; you may choose not to renew it, but you would still have your degree. Licensure is followed by state designations and national certifications, which are usually time limited and need to be maintained through continuing education. You could let this lapse, but you would still be an RN. Next, the voluntary credentials. Awards, honors and recognitions are not required for practice.

Following the above, here is my signature line and how I note my initials: Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. Occasionally, I use Jennifer Mensik, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. (I explain why shortly.)

Here is what it would look like, if I used all of my initials: Jennifer Mensik, PhD, MBA/HCM, BSN, ADN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. This is overkill.

Start at the top

First, you only should note your highest degree earned. In my case, it is my PhD. I normally drop other degrees because the PhD “trumps” them all. This is especially true if your other credentials are in the same profession. For instance, my associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and PhD are all in nursing, therefore I only note my PhD. If I had a master’s degree in nursing, I would leave that off, too. However, my master’s degree is in business administration, so I include it. This would be true if I had an undergraduate or graduate degree in a different field. I do not usually like using a long list of initials after my name, but if I feel it is important in communicating with someone, I will add my MBA to my signature line.

Next, I note my RN degree, which is the only license I have. If you are an APRN, your state and certifying body will no doubt have their required way to note your credentials. Check with your state board of nursing to ensure you are representing yourself correctly with your degree and state credentials. I have heard people say they note their RN first after their name because they work in service and not academia. There is no separate manner in which to communicate to others based on employment setting; there is only one way, and it is the way I note here.

Many of us have both professional and technical credentials; however, only professional certification initials go after our names. ANCC also maintains a thorough list of generally accepted national professional certifications (for Magnet for instance), which includes both ANCC and non-ANCC professional certifications. These certifications acknowledge a higher level of achievement in a body of knowledge and that one is more than competent in a certain area.

National certifications, such as my NEA-BC (nurse executive advanced, board-certified) tells others that I have attained and continually maintain advanced knowledge in my specialty area, nurse management and leadership. If I noted someone had CCRN, I would know he or she has expert knowledge as a critical care nurse.

Technical certifications include certifications around a technical skill set, like ACLS, BLS, PALS and others. We do not note technical certifications after our names, but we would list them in a resume or CV in the skills section.

Finally, I note my FAAN. The Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing is an important accomplishment for nursing. There are other “Fellow” programs and designations in specialty areas, such as wound care and informatics. Each are acknowledgements and recognition of one’s accomplishments. I am one of about 2,400 nurses with FAAN credentials in the world, who was accepted into the academy based on my contributions to our profession and after an extensive application process.

There also is a personal recognition piece to this topic that everyone needs to acknowledge. We should be proud of our accomplishments and to note them. I have heard conversations in which others feel slighted at a lack of credentials or made fun of nurses with many credentials for thinking they are better than nurses with fewer credentials. None of this should be the case.

I think of our initials as our professional “clinical ladder” of sorts — a way to contribute to our profession in many ways. We all should be proud of who we are and where we are in our own stages as professional nurses.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, FAAN
Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is division director of care management at Oregon Health and Science University and instructor for Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation DNP program. She also is treasurer for the American Nurses Association. Formerly, Mensik was vice president of CE programming for Nurse.com published by OnCourse Learning. A second-edition book she authored, "The Nurse Manager's Guide to Innovative Staffing," won third place in the leadership category for the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards 2017. Author, Jennifer Mensik, does not endorse, recommend or favor any program, product or service advertised or referenced on this website, or that appear on any linkages to or from this website.

128 Comments

  1. Lori May 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    If you completed a DNP program as stated, why do you use PHD? Or do you have both and drop one?

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik May 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      You would use both, particularly if your DNP was your terminal clinical degree (like NP). Your PhD is your research degree so listing both is appropriate. I have seen physician use both MD, PhD as well as PhD, MD so I would say if you needed to choose one way, I would say PhD, DNP.

      • Angelica July 12, 2017 at 4:38 am - Reply

        How would I list my credentials? I am a Licensed Practical Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Advanced Patient Care?

        • Angelica July 12, 2017 at 4:43 am - Reply

          *Correction* I am a Licensed Practical Nurse and have a Bachelor of Science in Health Science in Professional Development and Advanced Patient Care. How would I list my credentials?

          • Jennifer Mensik July 13, 2017 at 9:32 pm

            Angelica,
            Always check to see how the university notes your degree, but usually it would be a B.S. So, you would note your credentials as BS, LPN

    • Jennifer Mensik May 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      If you completed both, then you use both. There are many dual PhD/DNP programs. If you only completed a PhD, then you note a PhD. If you completed only a DNP, then you note only a DNP. They are two separate degrees.

  2. Tara May 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    I was a registered dietitian prior to becoming a nurse, and I still maintain the credential.
    I also just completed and MSN in Nursing Informatics.
    How should I list my credentials?

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik May 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Tara, go ahead and list your credentials as: MSN, RN, RD (based on the information above) unless your MSN is noted in a different way from your school, in which list it as the school notes it followed by RN, RD.

  3. Darrel Follman May 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I have a question related to credentialing. What is the difference between a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Bachelor of Science with a major in nursing (BS) degree? Similarly, what is the difference between a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Master of Science with a major in nursing degree? Does it matter which credential (BSN versus BS or MSN versus MS) nurses use as a credential after their names?

    • Jennifer Mensik May 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Darrel, The difference comes from what degree the school confers to the graduate. Your diploma and transcript will say exactly what degree the College or School conferred to you. It could be a BS or BSN, or MN or MSN. One would need to use the credential initials the equal the degree that was conferred. If you don’t have a BSN, but a BS, then you need to state those credentials. The difference comes from the focus of perhaps more art versus research or vice versa in the course program. All are accepted equally in nursing.

  4. Carolyn May 14, 2017 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    I have two certifications- CNL from my MSN program and PCCN. Which one should I list first or does it even matter?

    • Jennifer Mensik May 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Carolyn,

      I would go ahead and note the CNL first and the PCCN second.

      • Carolyn May 17, 2017 at 12:35 am - Reply

        Thanks!

  5. Martin Dyer May 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    My orthopedic surgeon has a PhD and and MD, and in talking with him about this subject, he told me that a PhD is considered a higher academic achievement than the MD, so he lists his credentials as PhD, MD,…

  6. Patty B May 15, 2017 at 12:13 am - Reply

    According to you write-up you did not earn a PhD. You earned a DNP which is NOT the same. The two are not nor have they ever been equal and interchangeable. As such, your initials are incorrect. The DNP degree is a practice doctorate. The PhD is a research doctorate. Not the same…unless of course you have both – but you didn’t list that.

    • Patty B May 15, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

      That’s the whole lack of consensus on whether the DNP is valid. Yet another made up degree by professional nursing students who can’t or don’t practice clinically.

      • Robin M. October 1, 2017 at 12:33 pm - Reply

        I have NEVER understood why nurses who CHOOSE to advance their degrees are considered “non-clinical”. I’m not sure why it is considered a crime by ADN’s that anyone who goes above that level has decided to stop working with patients. I have just completed my FNP certification and I will be working closely with the nurses, on the floor, seeing and interacting with patients. I do not feel any less a nurse than anyone else. I’ve never heard anyone refer to “DNP” as a made up degree. Wow.

        • Jacqueline C. April 17, 2018 at 4:42 am - Reply

          I agree with you, Robin M! I cannot believe anyone would refer the DNP degree as a made-up degree! Nurses who choose to pursue the DNP degree work just as hard in attaining that Doctoral degree! The difference is that the DNP program is clinical-focused while the PhD program is research-focused. Yes, it may take longer to attain the PhD degree due to “raw research”, but again, a Doctoral degree is a Doctoral degree. It isn’t a made-up degree! I’m pursuing the PhD degree myself, but I would never consider my colleagues with DNP degrees as less qualified APNs and I’d still call them “Doctors”! Yes, there are plenty APNs out there who are still practicing as clinical nurses as well! *SMH*

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez May 15, 2017 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Hello Patty,

      Can you clarify to whom you are referring?

      Thank you.

    • Jamie May 16, 2017 at 2:37 am - Reply

      According to the article, she earned a PhD but teaches in a DNP program. I’m in a PhD program but see the value of a DNP and do not appreciate your comments.

      • Sallie Jimenez
        Sallie Jimenez May 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm - Reply

        Mensik has earned her PhD and is faculty for a DNP program. Thank you for your interest.

  7. Sabra White May 15, 2017 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I have my MSN, my RN, my CNOR and recognized as a member of the International Nursing Honor Society. Do I include;and if so, how do I include the Honor Society recognition?

    • Jennifer Mensik May 16, 2017 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Sabra, you would note your credentials as: MSN, RN, CNOR. There are no credentials or initials for STTI membership, but you would definitely make sure you note this on your resume/CV.

  8. Patricia Ann May 15, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Hi I have completed a post graduate certification in health care informatics, how would i list that, or would I just include it on a CV?

    • Jennifer Mensik May 16, 2017 at 4:38 pm - Reply

      Patricia,

      Since it isn’t a new degree (a certificate instead) then list it under education on your CV. Of course if you are certified in informatics, make sure you list that certification after your educational degrees.

  9. Cecilia Ryan, RN, CLNC May 15, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    I am a Diploma RN with a PhD in a non-medical field. When listing my credentials for a nursing position I typically leave off the PhD or put it at the end, so as not to imply that I have advanced nursing training, however I do list my nursing certification. Is that what you would recommend?

    Thank you.

    • Jennifer Mensik May 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      Cecilia,

      This is a personal call, but on your resume/CV, I would definitely noted that you have a PhD and in what field. That is an accomplishment. I have heard hiring managers who are concerned on why someone with a PhD or other doctorate would want to practice at the bedside. More managers than not are welcoming of doctoral and masters prepared RNs practicing at the bedside. Additionally, if this is an organization on the Magnet journey or Magnet, they welcome you to practice at the bedside. If you are going to list it, I would still list PhD, RN. You do not have to list any of your credentials along side your name beyond RN, but if I was in your position, I would list the PhD.

  10. Carol May 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Yikes! Controversy! I have learned that those with fewer initials after their names sometimes resent those who have more, or think they are bragging if they display those initials. I leave most of mine off, except for when I feel they are needed to establish my qualifications.

    People say “over-educated, over-qualified”, or other such things, and I think they are assuming education=pay rate, which it is not. Education makes a person perhaps more qualified, perhaps not, depending on the job. I do not even mention my MBA for the most part, because I am a nurse, and it is not relevant to most things that I do.

    I am grateful for this article as I have seen initials listed many different ways and I think consistency is important for us all to be able to interpret initials correctly.

  11. Nell Steele-Alvarez May 17, 2017 at 1:41 am - Reply

    Hello Jennifer,
    I am a certified Case Manager (CM) through ANCC. My Certificate shows I am certified in Nursing Case Management RN-BC. Based on your credentials NEA-BC, people will know what you are certified in. No one knows what I am certified in with RN-BC.
    Any suggestions? I am currently in my last class for my Masters so I will then have MSN, RN-BC after my name however, again, what about my CM?

    Thank you,
    Nell

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik June 2, 2017 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Nell, in this case, it would be RN-BC, as the ANCC site (which gives this certification) notes it this way. ANCC notes nurse executive advanced as NEA-BC, thus those initials and I am not completely sure why the difference, but something I will explore with them. I agree, it is not easy to note what your certification is in in this case by quick glance. To communicate this quicker, I would have a “certification” section as one of the first areas on your resume.

  12. mary wilson May 21, 2017 at 2:51 am - Reply

    all this alphabet soup is ridiculous, all of the nurses and all the degrees, a simple RN is all that’s needed, all those letters do not make you a better nurse, in fact too many nurses have their noses in the books for the almighty degree instead of hands on patient care

    • Kathleen June 24, 2018 at 5:03 am - Reply

      Some of us have both.

  13. Lisa June 4, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I ave my MBA, BSN, RN, CCM, and CCMA Which order should my certifications be listed?

    • Jennifer Mensik June 16, 2017 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      In the order you have! MBA, BSN, RN, CCM, CCMA

  14. Alec birch June 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    I understand the rationale behind the order. However, I am willfully wrong in how I write mine. I write RN, BSN, CCRN, TCRN.

    My reasoning is that, at our core, being an RN is the most fundamental and everything else is secondary. Credentials and education are important for personal professional growth as well as for growth of the profession, but it’s all meaningless if we’re not nurses first.

    I’ve been informed of my wrongness and respectfully decline to change my order.

    • Karen March 30, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Exactly! And just RN is what it should be, put the rest on your resume. Be proud by showing that higher degree learning can be transferred to the bedside, no one really cares about the letters after your signature. It’s really gotten out of hand, like a competition and the patient could care less as long as getting the best care.

  15. maryjane June 20, 2017 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I like this.

  16. Lisa Barnhart June 22, 2017 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Jennifer,
    I have a BS in Animal Science, an associate degree in nursing, and my RN. How do I list my credentials?Plus my CDN.

    • Jennifer Mensik June 22, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Lisa,
      Assuming your BS is noted as a BS only in initials from the granting university, you would note it as: BS, RN, CDN

      Typically, RNs do not note ADN or diploma on their credential line. Your resume would clarify what your BS is in, where and when it was earned. You would not be misrepresenting yourself as a “BSN” prepared RN if you note your BS like I noted above.

  17. Rose June 28, 2017 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Lisa,

    My credentials are BSN, RN, RN-BC, CMSRN, Can I leave the RN out and use BSN, RN-BC, CMSRN? I read the ANA and ANCC websites but could not find an example to follow.

    Thanks,

    Rose

    • Jennifer Mensik June 30, 2017 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Yes! You can leave out the RN, as long as you include the RN-BC: BSN, RN-BC, CMSRN

  18. J June 30, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Good Morning

    I understand how to write the credentials as explained. However, I am unclear how to include a Post Master’s Certificate (nursing Education) as my highest level of education. NYS Dept of Education indicated that PMC is not a valid credential. Should I leave it off and just use MS.

    Thank you in advance
    J

    • Jennifer Mensik July 13, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Yes, you will leave off any note of a post masters and just go with the MS as credentials. Place the post master’s on your education area in your CV/resume.

  19. Shannon Kelley July 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I have a BA in another field and a BS in nursing. I am a RN. What is the appropriate title to use for resume/cover letters/etc.?

    • Jennifer Mensik July 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      I would note it as: BSN, BA, RN as you have two different bachelor degrees.

  20. Erica Jennings July 26, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Hello.

    I am currently a registered nurse with a bachelors in Nursing. I just completed my master’s degree in Health Informatics? How would I add this to my credentials. The school I graduated from added me this degree in with the Masters of Health Sciences students.

    Thanks

    • Jennifer Mensik July 27, 2017 at 3:27 am - Reply

      Erica, you will note your masters degree first, is it in nursing? If it is an MN or MS note that first, then BSN, RN. So, MS, BSN, RN. If your master’s degree is in nursing then you can drop the BSN and just note your Master’s and RN.

  21. Grace July 29, 2017 at 2:36 am - Reply

    If I have a DNP, should i also add my MSN?
    For example: jane doe, DNP, MSN, RN, PHN

    • Jennifer Mensik August 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Since both the DNP and MSN are both nursing degrees, you keep only the highest nursing degree. So: Jane Doe, DNP, RN, PHN

  22. Ashley August 11, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    I am attempting to order my boss a lab jacket with her name and new credentials listed on it as she is leaving our department. Let’s say her name is Susie Smith who is an RN with a BSN and MSN and CNL. How would Iist this on her jacket? Are there any periods or punctuation present? Would it read: Susie Smith MSN RN CNL?

    • Ashley August 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      I’m thinking that it would read:
      Susie Smith, MSN, RN, CNL

    • Jennifer Mensik August 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      Yes, you are correct on that!

  23. Ruth O. August 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Jennifer,
    I have a M.A. in non nursing degree, an RNC-MNN, CWCN, and RN-BC with ANCC in case management. For undergraduate i have a BS-IS and BSN. How would I list my credentials? your article has been very informative for me.
    thank you

  24. Tami August 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Jennifer,
    I just received my Master’s in FNP and also have my BSN. what would be the correct way to state my title?

    • Jennifer Mensik August 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Tami,

      So this will depend on whether you have a MN or MSN or ? which your degree on your transcript will note. Each means something slightly different and abbreviated differently. Additionally, you will need to see what the state board of nursing in your state requires you to use for your new advance practice title, congratulations!

      This could be written Tami, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC Replace the MSN with MN or MS to fit the degree you obtained. You will maintain the highest degree and drop the BSN. You will also drop the RN only, once you are recognized as an APRN or ARNP in your state. This will now replace RN. You will also note your certification at the end once you pass that exam. Hope that helps!

  25. B August 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    RN here working towards BSN. Is it ok to list name,RN-(BSN)? I’ve been told in the past that its ok to put the degree you’re pursuing in ().

    • Jennifer Mensik August 25, 2017 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Good question, and I think I should write up a whole blog on this topic alone. No, it is never okay to do that. Some people even place (c) behind the degree once they are a “candidate”. The Universities will tell you that is not okay, and that is not a degree that they confer. Yes, a lot of work has gone into where someone has gotten to, but one doesn’t get to use credentials they have not fully earned as noted on the official university transcript. You can definitely write RN, BSN Student. For those getting doctoral degrees, you need to write out PhD Student or PhD Candidate, not PhD(c). When I was getting my PhD, if the associate dean heard that you were using the (c) you got a spoken to. What stops anyone from actually using that forever and never finishing the degree? I have actually seen someone put PhD ABD on a resume! ABD stands for all but dissertation. They never finished! So, as you can see, you spurred me to write a new blog, coming soon. But thank you for the foresight in asking! Don’t use credentials you have not earned fully yet! Besides, it makes graduating all that sweeter!

  26. Zusana August 31, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I just received my master of science in health system management and also have my BSN.
    How to write it after my name

    • Jennifer Mensik September 21, 2017 at 2:13 am - Reply

      Zusana,

      First, confirm with your university what the degree is and how they abbreviate it. Based on what I am assuming you would have: Zusana LastName, MS-HSM, BSN, RN. I am assuming your masters degree is not in nursing. Therefore, you can list both degrees.

  27. Bridget Iadicicco September 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I am an RN about to complete my BSN in 5 wks and am certified in inpatient OB (RNC-OB). How would I list my credentials?

    • Jennifer Mensik September 21, 2017 at 2:15 am - Reply

      Bridget,

      Congratulations! You would note them as: Bridget Iadicicco, BSN, RNC-OB
      Do always check with your state board though to see if they have any variation when noting a certification.

  28. MEM September 19, 2017 at 12:53 am - Reply

    In New Jersey the title for advanced practice nurses is written as APN not APRN, so would I be MSN, BA, APN, FNP-BC?
    The BA is a bachelor of arts (duh) in Psychology – I’ve read other places that you shouldn’t list it if it isn’t pertinent, so should I leave it out?
    Also, at one point I was leaving “BSN” in there because of the BA – I felt that people would think that maybe I didn’t go the BSN route and did a RN to MSN…but that is not necessary, right?

    • Jennifer Mensik September 21, 2017 at 2:18 am - Reply

      Mem, I agree with how you note your initials. MSN, BA, APN, FNP-BC. You can also leave out the BA and just note MSN, APN, FNP-BC. I leave my MBA off a lot as it isn’t pertinent like you noted. When you didn’t have your MSN, I agree, leaving on your BSN and BA. You can tailor your credentials for your audience. So, if presenting you might want on the longer list with your BA. With patients, the shorter one.

  29. Darlene Tetreault September 20, 2017 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Hello,
    I am a BSN, RN, EMT who also has an AS.
    Becoming BC shortly in psychiatric mental health nursing. How do I include my EMT? Drop AS? Thank you Darlene

    • Jennifer Mensik September 21, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

      Darlene,

      I would not your initials as BSN, RN-BC, EMT. Since you now have a BSN, I would drop the AS even if not in nursing. If you maintain your EMT and it is pertinent to what you do, leave it and place it after the RN-BC. Your certification, which I am assuming is through ANCC, states the credential awarded is the RN-BC.

  30. Meka September 30, 2017 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Hi, I am a LPN and will be graduating this Dec to become an RN, I will be keeping both licenes active. How should I list my credentials? I know people say the RN trump the LPN, but my state allows both to be active and I will be using both as I am an agency nurse. Also after I obtain my BSN next year how would I list it. Thank you

    • Jennifer Mensik October 3, 2017 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      So, my two cents. Don’t keep the LPN license. You are placing yourself at risk with your license working below your highest license level (this goes for NPs working as RNs as well…legality issues). While your facility may say you are in an LPN role, and you are functioning to the LPN scope in that role while on duty, if somethings occurs and you do not respond to the highest level of licensure (your highest level of knowledge and ability) as an RN you can be held liable. Call and talk with your state board. The state boards in most states will hold you legally accountable to your highest license as will a civil or criminal lawsuit. Your initials will be RN after your name and once you have your BSN, it will read: BSN, RN. There is nothing in the LPN that is not covered by your RN.

  31. Dr. Debbie October 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I see doctoral prepared nurses that list their title “Dr. Jane Smith, PhD,DNP,RN, CNE” and have shared that listing both “Dr.” and “PhD,DNP” at the end is inaccurate. The term “Dr.” in front should only be used with the last name as a salutation. I can’t seem to find this anywhere as evidence but is something I remember in my past educational journey by a professor. Can you tell me the proper etiquette on the use of Dr. in front of their name and the credentials in the same title line of e-mail or signatures?

    • Jennifer Mensik October 3, 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Good question! In written correspondence, you would not use the title and degree together. You would use the one preferred. Looking at the Elements of Style book, page 3, its not specific, but I would extrapolate that from what is noted in that book. With a PhD or DNP, typically this would be Jane Smith, Ph.D. D.N.P. If using only the title Dr, the associated press usually connect that with an MD, DO, DDS. With that it may be Dr Jane Smith or Jane Smith, M.D. –one of those, but not both and it is typically based on preference. When in doubt, use the credentials only. In the salutation, you can say Dear Dr Smith and place the credentials in the address section on a letter.

  32. Catherine Bradley October 3, 2017 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Hi! Thanks for all the great information. I have a rather unique circumstance and would welcome your input! Part 1: I was a large animal anesthetist and have gone back to school and now have a career in nursing. My full credentials above the Associates level are BSc (Biology), BSN, MSc (see below). My licensing is LVN and RN. Given both careers are pertinent to my professional practice and I actively practice in both, with the info in Part 2, what do you suggest?

    Part 2: My Masters is from a UK university. It is a Masters in Nursing but technically the name given by the Uni is Master of Science (Med. Sci.) Advanced Practice in Healthcare with Specialty in Acute and Critical Care. That’s entirely too much and I’m quite happy to say MSN or MSc. Which do you feel is most appropriate?

    Thanks so much for your time!

    • Jennifer Mensik October 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Clarification first before I respond: Your LVN is Licensed Vocational Nurse?

  33. Christi Boswell October 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I have a question on my credentials: APRN-FNP-C, MSN
    However I think I’m grandfathered in as APRN-CNP according to OK Board of Nursing.

    Post Masters Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate
    (ON my AANP certificate it says NP-C,
    (via AANP, I think mine should be FNP-C)

    Board of Nursing for my state:
    BON: Nurse Practice ACT page 11, D.
    D. The Board may issue prescriptive authority recognition by endorsement to an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licensed as an APRN-CNP, APRN-CNS, or APRN-CNM under the laws of another state if the applicant meets the requirements set forth in this section. An applicant for prescriptive authority recognition by endorsement shall:
    1. Submit a completed written application and appropriate fees as established by the Board;
    2. Hold current Registered Nurse and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licenses (APRN-CNP, APRN-CNS, or APRN-CNM) in the state;

    MS Master of Science (listed on diploma, on transcript it has Plan: Nursing Education
    or MSN/Ed: Master of Science in Nursing Education 2009

    BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing

    AAS: Associate of Applied Science in Nursing 2002

    AS: Associate of Science 1999

    • Jennifer Mensik October 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      Christi,

      I would say your credentials are: MSN, APRN-CNP, FNP.

      APRN-CNP is newer, based on https://www.ncsbn.org/aprn-consensus.htm

      These changes need individual state legislative approval, and that takes a while. To date, only a handful of states have 100% adoption of the recommended changes. The website above can tell you more about your states adoption. I would add FNP after your APRN-CNP to denote the type of NP you are, even though your legally protected title is APRN-CNP. I see credentials as a way to communicate to others your formal knowledge base. Adding FNP communicates to others the area of education focus.

  34. Simone October 22, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    HI there. I have a BA in modern languages (Spanish) and a translation certification in Spanish, as well as BSN and certification as RN. Do I include my Spanish credentials and if so how do I write it? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Mensik October 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      Simone, I would write your initials as BSN, BA, RN. Some certifications can not be shortened, and in those cases, go on your resume under a header of “Certifications”. Did the body that provided your translation certification tell you how to shorten it? If there isn’t a way, then there is not a way to add it on a credential line. If so, then you place those credentials after RN.

  35. Eunica Jones October 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    How would I list doctoral of ministry, register nurse certified clinical medical assistant, BLS instructor

    • Jennifer Mensik October 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      You would note your initials as D.Min, RN

      As noted above in another response I made regarding noting LPN and RN, your RN degree has the largest legal scope, and you note that one only. Read my response above to that one. BLS instructor doesn’t go on credentials (no credentials for it), but on your skills or experience section in your resume.

  36. Natasha October 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    If I have a degree in BScN ( bachelors of Science in Nursing), but am not licensed. Am I still able to put BScN after my name? Especially when applying or writing letter of recommendations for others in nursing? thanks

  37. Jennifer Mensik October 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Natasha, this is a tough one. You did earn the degree, so you can note it. However, since you are not licensed as an RN, you have to be very careful to not get in trouble for impersonating a nurse, which in most states, is a felony. If you were an RN at one point, and retirement is the reason you are not licensed, then you could state Natasha, BScN, Retired RN (some state boards will go into detail about how to note if you are retired). If you were never an RN or had your license suspended or had to surrender it, or didn’t renew if you were in a completely different field for a while, I would personally not note the degree after my name to make sure there was no confusion about nurse impersonation. But, I do suggest that you call the state board of nursing in your state to ask their thoughts on this one.

  38. Eunica Jones October 26, 2017 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Jennifer,
    Thank you for your response also where would I include CCMA ( certified clinical medical assistant) in my title above, Yhank you!
    Eunica Jones

    • Jennifer Mensik October 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      It would be after the RN, D.Min, RN, CCMA
      You are welcome!

  39. Rena November 3, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Can you help me? I received a letter with the authors credentials as….RN, BSN, BBA, NSM. I understand registered nurse, bachelors of business administration but am unsure about the others. But also is the BBA in a specific topic? Thanks for your help.

    • Jennifer Mensik November 7, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Hi! In order to know if the BBA was in a specific topic area, you would need to ask the author. For instance, I have an MBA, which was in healthcare management. Per the University as it was given to me, I could note it at MBA/HCM but I usually note only MBA after my name if I note that degree at all. I have asked several people and checked a few sources and no one knows that NSM might be. Its not on the Magnet National Certification DDCT list. Did they mean to say MSN? That would be another thing I would ask them.

  40. Ashley D. November 16, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I have a BSN and MSN in administration and am working on a DNP with a family nurse practitioner concentration. What will my credentials be?

    • Ashley D. November 16, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      How will my credentials be displayed? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Mensik November 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      If your MSN is just that, an MSN (with no additional initials) I would leave off all once you get your DNP. So, once you graduate and become an FNP (pass exams and get approval from state board) you would note credentials like this:

      DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

      Note: depending on state, you are either an ARNP or APRN–this is a legal title, so check with your state board on which one you are. Your state might also have a specific way to note your certification.

      You will drop the RN as you would now be an APRN. Since your DNP is your highest nursing degree, drop all others. You could write DNP, MSN, BSN, APRN, FNP-BC, but I think that is excessive. Also, note certifying body might note it different, so check with ANCC or AANP on how they note their certification.

  41. Michelle Ferguson November 19, 2017 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I am wondering how to list multiple certifications from ANCC as it does differentiate exactly what the certification is in. I currently have the medical-surgical and am considering taking both the gerontological and pain management as well as the CMSRN. I will also receive my BSN in January. Assuming I receive all of those how would I list my credentials?

    BSN, RN, CMSRN, RN-BC, RN-BC, RN-BC?

    Or is there a way to list them without looking like I made a typo by repeating?

    • Jennifer Mensik November 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      You would noted your credentials as:
      BSN, RN-BC, CMSRN

      You will always note your certifications on your resume in a certification section, which is where you will show all of them. Because most of them are noted as BC, you just note them once in your title.

  42. Bev F. November 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    I hold a Master’s of Science degree in Acupuncture in addition to my BSN. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist and an RN. Acupuncture came first but I am currently employed as an RN. Would it be correct to list these as MSAc, BSN, L.Ac., RN?

    • Jennifer Mensik December 4, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Beth, if you are employed in nursing and while in your nursing positions I would write it: MSAc, BSN, RN, L.A.c with the RN first before L.A.c

  43. Beth November 28, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I am a registered nurse, with med surg certification through ancc. I’m pursuing my bsn. How do I list my credentials? Is it RN, RN-BC? Or just name followed by RN-BC?

    • Jennifer Mensik December 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Beth,

      For now, it is RN-BC. Once you complete your degree, then it will be BSN, RN-BC. Congrats on working on your BSN!

  44. Shandria Gray December 6, 2017 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Can I list a double credential after my name? I have two wound care certificates from two different organizations. Can I list them both? If so how do I list them.

    • Jennifer Mensik December 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      Shandria,

      yes, you can list both. First list your highest degree (if Bachelors or higher), followed by RN, followed by both certificates. Doesn’t matter the order.

  45. Complicatie December 14, 2017 at 3:06 am - Reply

    What about an MSN nurse educator and a post masters certificate FNP?

  46. Jennifer Mensik
    Jennifer Mensik December 14, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    I am assuming you have a nurse educator certificate and that you are an ARNP/APRN? SO, assuming all that: MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, (and then your educator certificate).

  47. karin gamble December 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I just received my masters in education M.Ed and have my bachelor of science in nursing BSN, and am an RN, so do I sign M.Ed, BSN, RN ?

  48. Jennifer Mensik
    Jennifer Mensik December 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Yes, you are correct! Congratulations!

  49. Alex January 4, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    What if you are board certified through both AANP and ANCC?
    DNP, ARNP, FNP-BC, NP-C, CEN??

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik January 7, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      You would list both, listing your NP credentials first before your RN credentials like you did. I am assuming you are certified in only one area as an NP? If so, go with what your state board requires for noting your NP. If your NP-C is another type of NP, then keep it like you have it.

  50. Dana Z January 13, 2018 at 6:57 am - Reply

    I have my BSN, RN but just took on the role of ADON at my job. How would I list this? BSN, RN, ADON?
    Thanks for any and all information!

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik January 15, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      ADON is not a certification so it doesn’t go on your list of initials as it is a title. In an email signature line, typically your title goes under your name/credentials.
      So:
      Dana, Z, BSN, RN
      ADON, Name of facility

      You don’t place job titles in your name on a resume or other similar items.

  51. Carolina January 15, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I graduated from MSN-FNP program. I have not took the certification for FNP. I live in California. Can i use the title NP until i get certified but not FNP until certified?

    Thank you

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik January 15, 2018 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      No, you can not use the NP title until you are certified. Majority of states have protective titling laws, and you could get yourself in a lot of trouble. You can use MSN after your name, and after RN, but you must wait until the state board approves your certification/license as an FNP in your state.

      • K August 6, 2018 at 9:17 am - Reply

        Technically you can use FNP but not FNP-BC, you can legally practice FNP since California is one of the states that allows FNP to practice without being board certified.

        • T October 3, 2018 at 8:20 pm - Reply

          Only if you attended a California based university :).

  52. ElmoRN March 31, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Dr. Mensik,

    I’m sorry if I’m doubling my comment. I hadn’t checked back in a couple of weeks and now it’s gone. First, I appreciate you taking the time to help correct us with our credentials. I know you’ve touched on BS vs BSN before. My question is are there alternate was to write for a BS with a Major in Nursing? I’ve seen BS, BS(N), and BScN. Thank you for your time and assistance.

    • Jennifer Mensik
      Jennifer Mensik April 4, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      No problem! It would be generally acceptable to write BSN if you majored in Nursing with a BS, however, call or email that university/college’s registrar office to ask how the degree initials are to be written. The registrar is the office that confirms degrees and information around that, and will know specifically what degree was confirmed, that way you will know 100% sure. Hope that helps!

  53. Briana Houghton April 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    If I have a (BSBA) Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and then years later completed a (BSN) Bachelors in Nursing and RN, and then Certification (CNOR) for the operating room. Which bachelors degree do I put first? The BSN because my others (RN and CNOR) are tied to that degree or put BSBA first as it was the first degree that I received?

    • Heather Cygan
      Heather Cygan May 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      BSN goes first since it’s your nursing bachelor’s degree.

  54. Flo May 12, 2018 at 3:08 am - Reply

    I’ve recently graduated with my MSN-FNP. I got my BSN after my ADN and I am currently working as a PHN. I am planning to take the AANP certification. So, my credentials will be listed as:

    Jane Doe, MSN, BSN, RN, FNP-C, PHN

  55. KatD643 May 12, 2018 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Hello! I recently obtained my PCCN and also have an RN and BSN. Since I now have the PCCN do I change the RN to RN-BC? So the credentials would be BSN, RN-BC, PCCN? Thanks!

    • Justin W BSN, RN-BC, CCRN-CMC May 28, 2018 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      KatD643,

      First, congratulations on attaining your PCCN! Second, no it would not be BSN, RN-BC, PCCN it would be BSN, RN, PCCN. The RN-BC is a specific credential from the ANCC. Hope my answer helps!

  56. dee May 19, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Hello-
    I have a BS in Biology as my first degree, then completed my BSN, MSN, APRN and I am board certified as a FNP-BC. I recently completed my Doctorate in Nursing Practice.
    What is the best way to list my credentials? DNP, BS, APRN-BC? or DNP, BS, APRN, FNP-BC?
    Many Thanks!

  57. Gina M. May 31, 2018 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Hello. I am currently employed as an RN, which I got my BSN for. I just graduated with my MSN in a PNP program, and am applying for positions, though I have not taken my boards yet. I am unsure of how to list my credentials for this. Do I list only RN, since I am not certified or working as an NP yet, or do I list NP as I’ve graduated from a program? Thank you!

  58. Genie June 4, 2018 at 4:15 am - Reply

    I am a registered nurse and just received my Master in Gerontology and Nursing Education, and certificate in Gerontology. I am also CCRN and CEN. How would you suggest this be written in my signature box and business cards

  59. V.Cly June 15, 2018 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    I have my BSN, RN. I’m a new DON. Therefore, how should my name be listed?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez June 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Hello,
      According to Mensik’s instructions, “BSN, RN” is the correct way to list your credentials. Thank you for your question.

  60. Kellie Porter June 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Hello
    Please tell me if I can use DNP candidate if in DNP program?

  61. Natalie Woodland June 22, 2018 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Hi Jennifer – thank you for sharing this, as I found the information helpful. I am a registered nurse with a current bachelor’s degree, and I am in school currently for my MBA. I guess I’m daydreaming a bit, but would like to understand what my title will look like once I finish up in the spring of next year!

    Based on what you shared, I believe it would look as follows: Natalie Woodland, MBA, BSN, RN. Is that right? I guess I could also go for: Natalie Woodland, MBA, RN, but I would be omitting the bachelor’s degree that’s in a different field than the master’s.

  62. Guillermo Valdes June 22, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Can you list the Virginia Henderson Fellow as the many Academy Fellows do in your credentials?

  63. Beverly Reese June 25, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I am a RN with a BSN. I have a completed nurse manager certification program through Sigma Theta Tau Internal Honor Society of Nursing. Are there any credentials with the nurse manager certification or just something to add to my resume?

  64. Diane July 27, 2018 at 3:13 am - Reply

    I got my ADN during may, i am enrolled in an RN to BSN program. When i graduate from the program i will have the BSN. For credentials do I just put my name, BSN, RN and skip the ADN part?

  65. WG July 27, 2018 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    How would I list my credentials when I graduate next semester?

    MSN, BSBHA, RN, CEN, APRN, FNP-BP or MSN, BSBHA, RN, APRN, CEN, FNP-BC?

    (the BSBHA is Bachelor of Science in Business and Healthcare Administration)

    and would i include my BSN? or no because MSN covers the highest nursing degree?

    MSN, BSBHA, BSN, RN, APRN, CEN, FNP-BC?

  66. Rachelle August 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeniffer
    I am an RN with a MSN, and 2 certifications; 1 in Med Surg and the other in Care management. How would I list those certifications?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez August 8, 2018 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Hello Rachelle,

      Based on Jennifer Mensik’s certification advice and her provided list, it does not appear she specifies a certain order for listing national certifications.

      Thank you for your wquestion.

      Sallie Jimenez
      Nurse.com

  67. Mary October 13, 2018 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Any idea about whether or not an RN who is practicing patient care as an RN should be using her “FNP” credentials when signing and also presenting herself to patients as an FNP. If her job description is for patient care as an RN, my concern is that there would be a liability or higher expectation by the patient or family when she presents to them and signs as an FNP.

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