CVOR nurse in the the operator room with other doctors and nurses.

The Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI) is an organization that focuses on perioperative professional certifications for nurses. CCI identifies the specialty nursing certification as "the formal process by which a certifying agency validates a nurse's knowledge, skills, and abilities in a defined role and clinical area of practice." Certified nurses are recognized on March 19th every year by employers and healthcare providers for their dedication to pursuing excellence within their specialty.

What Is CNOR?

CNOR is the abbreviation of credentials that represent a certified perioperative nurse. It is the specialty certification for nurses working in perioperative services, with most of their time spent intra-operatively. This nationally recognized certification is for experienced perioperative nurses and CVOR nurses with at least two years of perioperative experience. Currently, more than 40,000 nurses hold these credentials.

CNOR is the abbreviation of credentials that represent a certified perioperative nurse. It is the specialty certification for nurses working in perioperative services, with most of their time spent intra-operatively. This nationally recognized certification is for experienced perioperative nurses with at least two years of perioperative experience. Currently, more than 40,000 nurses hold these credentials.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Specialize as an Operating Room Nurse

How to Acquire CNOR Certification

There are three specific requirements that must be accomplished prior to applying for CNOR certification. To establish eligibility, nurses must maintain an unrestricted RN license in the state where they practice, currently work full-time or part-time in a perioperative clinical setting (or in perioperative nursing education, administration, or research), and have at least 2 years of experience in the perioperative setting with more than 1,200 hours of intra-operative experience.

To become a certified perioperative nurse, applicants are required to pass a multiple-choice exam with 200 questions covering a variety of OR-related topics with the following breakdown:

  • 34% Intra-operative care
  • 16% Infection prevention and control
  • 15% Perioperative patient assessment and diagnosis
  • 11% Communication and documentation
  • 10% Emergency situations
  • 8% Plan of care
  • 6% Professional accountability

While preparing for the exam requires studying, it is not an overwhelming process, as experienced nurses will typically know the best answer from personal experience in the OR. The test is not designed to be intentionally difficult but aims to establish that a nurse understands best practices and intra-operative patient safety.

Why You Should Seek CNOR Certification

There are numerous reasons why a perioperative nurse may be interested in acquiring professional certification. It takes time and effort to study for the recommended three months, purchase materials to review for the exam, and then finally pass the test. Some facilities will cover the cost of the exam or study materials to encourage nurses to pursue certification.

Demonstrated Excellence

The operating room (OR) is an intense place to work and requires competency of a large volume of technical skills that are not taught in nursing school. After spending at least two years working in the OR to learn the fundamentals, the next professional step is becoming a certified nurse. Nurses who take the time to gain this certification will accomplish their personal goals while simultaneously displaying a professional commitment to patient safety by upholding high clinical standards.

Increased Pay

Facilities will typically pay a higher hourly rate for nurses who hold and maintain CNOR. Certification pay varies by location and facility but can be anywhere from a $0.50/hour to $3/hour increase, which adds up over the course of a year. AORN, the professional organization for perioperative nurses, conducted a compensation survey in 2018 that revealed certified nurses earn an average of $1700 more per year than nurses who are not certified. This is an easy step that you can take in your career to make more money long term - without working extra hours for overtime pay or picking up on-call shifts.

Expansion of Job Opportunities

While certification is not a mandatory requirement to work as an RN, it serves as a resume builder and shows a willingness to advance your professional development. Since the CNOR exam focuses on patient safety and best practices, passing makes you more likely to be an asset to the facility. Certification could be the competitive advantage that sets you apart from other candidates.

Maintaining CNOR

CNOR certification is active for five years and then must be renewed through either continuing education credits (CEs) or points accrued from enrollment in a nursing school program (ex. BSN or MSN programs). The amount of CEs required to renew is 125, with at least 75 of them being perioperative-specific education. All CEs must be documented and uploaded to the CCI website prior to renewal. The final eligibility requirement for renewal is at least 500 hours in the perioperative setting over the accrual period.

Represent Certified Perioperative Nurses

By earning CNOR, OR nurses are given the opportunity to be recognized by their department and facilities for their hard work. The increased pay and added value to your resume is well worth the time commitment involved in achieving certification. Earning a professional certification in a nursing specialty is an incredible accomplishment that takes years of experience, a dedication to patient safety, and a willingness to advance your career.

Bliss Splane, RN, BSN, CNOR
Latest posts by Bliss Splane, RN, BSN, CNOR (see all)
  • What Is CNOR and Why Should You Go For It? - November 17, 2020
  • 4 Ways to Specialize as an Operating Room Nurse - September 26, 2020
CVOR nurse in the the operator room with other doctors and nurses.

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