Smiling Female Nurse

Congratulations! You have earned that challenging nursing degree and/or certificate and you are ready to add the abbreviations after your name. But how do you display all of your titles, licenses, and certificates the proper way? Your guide is as follows.

Order Is Everything

The proper way to list your nursing credentials is in the following order:

  1. Highest degree earned
  2. License
  3. State requirements
  4. National certifications
  5. Honors and awards
  6. Other recognition

While the order may seem confusing or random, following a few simple guidelines will make the recommended standard easier to follow and remember. First, the highest education degree from each field is noted as it is fixed or permanent, meaning that no one can "take away" your earned degree. Second, the license and state designations are listed as that is required for you to practice. The remaining awards and honors are optional. However, many nurses proudly display board-certification titles not only to convey their expertise but also to inspire other nurses to strive for specialty certifications as well.

RELATED: What Advanced Certifications Are Available for Nurses?

Common educational credentials to see after a nurse's name include doctoral degrees (PhD, DNP, EdD, DNS), master's degrees (MSN, MS, MA) bachelor's degrees (BS, BSN, BA) and associate degrees (AS, AD, ADN). Nurse licensure credentials are RN, LPN, and LVN. State requirements or designations may include Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Nurse Practitioner (NP), and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). National certifications are those awarded by national accrediting agencies such as the ANCC and may include Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) along with many others.

What If I Also Hold Credentials or Degrees in Other Disciplines?

Nurses who hold degrees in various fields can list them after their names, starting with the highest degree earned. For example, Nurse Catherine Burger earned her Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) then went on to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) several years later, and finally, a Master's of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL). Nurse Burger was also awarded board-certification as a nurse executive (NEA-BC). Her credentials should be listed and displayed as follows:

Catherine Burger, MSOL, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

If she were recognized for outstanding achievements in nursing, the credential of FAAN (Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing) would follow her board certification listing. Nurse Burger should not list her ADN degree as the BSN is the higher of the degrees in the field of study. However, when signing legal records such as medical notes, the only requirement is your name and state requirements: Catherine Burger, RN.

While there is no absolute requirement for listing credentials after your name, there is a professional expectation to proudly display one's earned degrees, licensure, and certifications.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN

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