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

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.

Need tips on how to earn a degree via distance learning? Click here


About the author
Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, FAAN

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.

125 responses to “What’s the right way to list your nursing credentials?”

    • 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.

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

        • *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?

          • 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

      • I am probably posting in the wrong place. My question is for Dr. Mensik. How do you denote you have a post-masters certificate in nursing in addition to a MSN? I feel like there is no way to indicate that through my credentials. Thank you in advance.

    • 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.

  1. 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?

    • 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.

  2. 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?

    • 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.

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

  4. 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,…

  5. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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?

    • 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.

  7. 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?

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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, 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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.



      • What is the rule of when the RN can be left off – I have read ANCC guidelines and that is not mentioned and trying to standardize our departments credentials but multiple certifications (not all ANCC or RN-BC) so some seem to have RN and some do not etc…

  15. 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

    • 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.

  16. 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.?

  17. 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.


    • 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.

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

  18. 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?

  19. 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

    • 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!

  20. 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 ().

    • 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!

    • 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.

  21. 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?

    • 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.

  22. 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?

    • 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.

  23. 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

    • 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.

  24. 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

    • 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.

  25. 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?

    • 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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

    • 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.

  28. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    • 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.

  32. 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?

    • 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:


      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.

  33. 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?


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

    • You would noted your credentials as:

      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.

  34. 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?

    • 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

  35. 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?

    • 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!

  36. 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.

    • 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.

  37. 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).

  38. 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 ?

    • 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.

  39. 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!

    • 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.
      Dana, Z, BSN, RN
      ADON, Name of facility

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

  40. 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

    • 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.

  41. I just graduated from a BSN to DNP program as a Nurse Executive. How do I write the credentials after my name: Jane Smith, DNP, NE?

  42. You would note Jane Smith, DNP, RN (unless you are an ARNP/APRN then you note that instead of RN). Your DNP is just your degree and not your license, so always add your license. The NE you leave off. My PhD had 3 areas of focus, so you leave them off on graduate degrees for the most part. I do have my NEA-BC, which is the ANCC certification of Nurse Executive Advanced–NEA-BC and they do have a first step nurse executive certification of NE-BC. So, you would only place those initials after your name if you passed the ANCC board certification for that. My initials are Jennifer, PhD, RN, NEA-BC.

  43. Recently I graduated from an DNP-Ph.D program and I also have an MBA. I am about to sit for my nurse executive certification. How would I list my credentials? Name, Ph.D, DNP, MBA, NE-BC? Do I have to add the RN to that? Its a bit excessive.

    • Congratulations! Yes, if you are an RN, do place it. You can have a degree in nursing and not a nursing license. If anything, the License is the most important piece to communicate to others because of the legal authority is in that to practice as an RN not the DNP or PhD. So while it seems excessive, you could do a combination of many things. I for instance leave my MBA off most times. So:
      PhD, DNP, MBA, RN, NE-BC or PhD, DNP, RN, NE-BC would be appropriate.

      • Dr. Mensik, thank you for your help! Does it really matter whether the Ph.D goes before the DNP or vice versa? Is one higher than the other?

        • Jane, you are welcome! Do place your PhD first, followed by the DNP. That is typical way those with a PhD and DNP write their credentials, particularly in academia.

  44. I work in a family practice office, there is a new staff member who is still in college completing her RN she is not yet an RN and has not taken her boards yet. She is telling people she is a RN and using it as her title on some paperwork for patient care, is this against the law for her to use a medical title she has not earned yet? I’m concerned.

  45. Hi, I currently use MS, BSN, RN after my name but I am now getting my MSN. Would I drop the MS and BSN? So I would just use MSN, RN after my name?
    Thank you!

    • Aimee,

      Congratulations! Yes, that would be appropriate to note your initials as MSN, RN. If your MS is in another field, you could note that too such as: MSN, MN, RN but some find that more than they want and just make sure you note you have two separate graduate degrees on your resume.

  46. Hello, I was wondering if I could get assistance. I am an LPN and RN currently. I earned an A.A.S. in nursing and just recently a BSN. How should I write my credentials.

    ex. Jane Doe, BSN, AAS, RN,LPN
    Or because I am phasing out the LPN should I discard it all together.
    ex. Jane Doe, BSN, AAS, RN
    ex. Jane Doe, BSN, RN

  47. Congratulations! Go ahead and note BSN, RN. Your AAS is less than the BSN so only note highest nursing degree. And disregard your LPN. You should always practice to the highest level of your license and your RN always covers everything you can do as an LPN.

  48. Hello Jennifer,
    Can you please tell me the correct way to sign with my credentialing. I would greatly appreciate it. I have a BSN, RN, an MSN in Nursing Ed (MSN ed??), then a post master certificate for Pediatric NP and my national pediatric NP certification C-PNP. I don’t know how to abbreviate a post master certificate or how to write my full credentialing- thank you in advance

  49. Maureen,

    I am going to make the assumption you are also an APRN/ARNP per your state board of nursing. So, you would write your credentials based on whether they recognize your advance title as APRN or ARNP (three states use ARNP).
    Maureen, MSN-Ed, APRN, C-PNP
    That is your highest degree, your highest license, and your certification. You could use BSN, but you noted your MSN-Ed, you drop your RN if you are an APRN/ARNP, and note your NP certification. Your post masters certificate itself isn’t a degree and so it goes in your resume under education-degrees and post graduate certificates.

    Hope that helps!

    • MY Post Master certificate my highest degree. I received my MSN in ED but then went back for two more years to receive a post masters certificate as an NP

      • Maureen, “The purpose of the post-master’s study program is to provide, for nurses who already hold a master’s degree in nursing, an educational route to specialization in an area other than that obtained in their master’s program.” It is not considered a degree (thus you don’t have two masters degrees), so you have one MSN in one specialty, and a certificate in a second specialty. You only place your MSN ED as highest degree, and the certification as the NP at the end of your name. Your post masters certificate goes into your education section on your resume. If you believe you were awarded a degree, do contact the conferring University to verify what was conferred to you. But if it was a certificate, that is not a second masters degree. Jennifer

  50. Hi Jennifer! I graduated my first course in the Philippines and got the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts degree. Then I took my second course which is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing then got my license as a Registered Nurse. So, how do I write it? Thank you so much!

  51. Dr. Mensik,

    I know you have commented on the BS vs BSN titling before. I hold a BS with a Major in Nursing. The dean of undergraduate nursing told us that we can write BSN, which I believe to be wrong. My question is are there different ways to denote a BS with a Major in Nursing? I have seen it as BS, BS(N), and BScN. I appreciate your response and time. What you have done with this article has helped many of us.

    Thank you,


  52. I have a question about listing degrees. I have a BSN, then went on for a MSN in Nursing Education. Afterwards, I earned a Neonatal DNP. There were only 3 classes that transferred from my MSN-Ed to the DNP program. Do I include my MSN since it is in education or only the DNP? Thanks in advance!

  53. For Rn’s who have ANCC Certification (RN-BC) it sounds like it would be ok to drop the RN in credential . So Sally Nurse MSN, RN, RN-BC would be Sally Nurse MSN, RN-BC? What is the rule of when the RN can be left off – I have read ANCC guidelines and that is not mentioned and trying to standardize our departments credentials but multiple certifications (not all ANCC or RN-BC) so some seem to have RN and some do not etc…

  54. Hi Jennifer,
    I hold an RN and LCSW with an MSW and a BSN. What would the proper way to list these credentials?

    • I currently hold these credentials as well, and would like to know the proper way to list them. I would like to make sure I’m not doing it incorrectly! I think it is MSW, BSN, LCSW, RN, but please advise.

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