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Dr. Linda Steele, ARNP, ANP-BC

MSN Program Director

  • As a new nurse practitioner graduate from Walden University you are entering practice during a time of change. New NPs need to understand the meaning of national certification, how certification differs from licensure, and the available certification options. New NP grads also need to understand the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Consensus Model and its future impact on NP certification and practice.



National Certification and State Licensure

  • The individual state boards of nursing exhibit variability in specific regulations for NP practice. For instance, NP titles vary from state to state. They include nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse practitioner, licensed nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, certified nurse practitioner, advanced registered nurse practitioner, and advanced practice registered nurse. The NP license application process is also individualized by state.

State Licensure

  • Every new graduate should carefully review individual state requirements for NP recognition. For example, Ohio requires verification of national board certification directly from the certification body, yet Pennsylvania allows the applicant to write in the accrediting body and certification identification number.


  • All states require an NP to maintain a current RN license. If an NP plans to practice in multiple states, each state’s licensure requirements must be met. Individual state licensure requirements are available at each state’s board of nursing website. Link to them via http://www.ncsbn/.


  • Theoretically, licensure and certification should facilitate NP mobility across state boundaries, but only Utah and Iowa have adopted the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) model for a multistate compact for mutual recognition of APN licenses and authority to practice. The NCSBN reports that implementation of the multistate compact is not likely until 2015 or later.


  • Certification differs from licensure. Licensure gives a person the right to engage in a profession. A license is usually based on two criteria, essential education and measure of competence. For example, passage of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is required to practice as a registered nurse.


  • The American Nurses Association (ANA) has published definitions of licensure and certification. The ANA states that a primary purpose of licensure is to protect the public by ensuring a minimum level of professional competence. Certification assures that a professional has mastered a body of knowledge and acquired skills in a particular specialty or area.

Licensure and Certification

  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the ANA, offers several certification exams for NPs and CNSs http:// www.nursecredentialing.org
  • As a graduate from Walden University, you are eligible to take either the Family NP, Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP, and Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP

ANCC Examinations

  • Eligibility Requirements: Must have an active Registered Nurse license and a master’s degree or higher from a Family Nurse Practitioner program that is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission with a minimum of 500 clinical hours.
  • Certification Process: After 2 weeks processing time for online applications and 8 weeks processing time for mailed applications, applicants must take and pass a computer-based exam. Although the exam is offered year-round, it must be taken within 90 days after the application has been processed.

ANCC Eligibility

  • The currently available ANCC exams consist of 175 questions or test items. One hundred fifty items are scored, and the remaining 25 are pilot test items. The total test time is 4 hours, which includes 0.5 hours for directions and a practice tutorial. The actual time allotted for the test is 3.5 hours. The test focuses on theoretical foundations of advanced practice nursing, professional role, healthcare policy and delivery, clinical assessment, and clinical management.

ANCC Exam Information

  • For a list of site locations, please visit www.prometric.com
  • Fees vary based on whether you are a member of ANA or not and are listed on the website.

ANCC Sites and Fees

  • The purpose of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Program is to provide a valid and reliable program for entry-level nurse practitioners to recognize their education, knowledge, and professional expertise. AANPCP provides a process for validation of an advanced practice registered nurse’s qualifications and knowledge for practice as a primary care nurse practitioner.



  • AANPCP National Certification Examinations are entry-level, competency-based examinations for nurse practitioners reflective of nurse practitioner knowledge and expertise for each of the following specialties:
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • AANPCP now offers the professional certification and examination in the role and population of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. The Gerontology Certification Examination was retired December 28, 2012, in response to the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation.

AANP Examinations

    • The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP www.aanpcertification.org) offers year-round computer-based testing for AGNP and FNP practitioner certification.
    • The 3-hour AANPCP examination consists of 150 questions, 15 of which are pilot questions. Testing domains include assessment, diagnosis, planning, and evaluation of care.
    • The test focuses on theoretical foundations of advanced practice nursing, professional role, healthcare policy and delivery, clinical assessment, and clinical management.



AANP Exam Information


  • Eligibility Requirements: Must have an active Registered Nurse license and a master’s degree or higher from an approved Nurse Practitioner program
  • Certification Process: Must apply online and take a computer-based exam within 120 days after applying

AANP eligibility

  • For a list of site locations, please visit www.prometric.com
  • Individuals who join the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) at the time of application will qualify for the member’s fee. Individuals who join within 30 days after the application is submitted may qualify for a refund of the difference between the member’s and non-member’s fee

AANP Exam Locations and Fees

  • Walden’s AGACNP Program has been certified by the

the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

  • Website: ACNPC-AG certification
  • Exam applicants from our school will have an expedited application evaluation process of 2 to 3 business days.

AACN for Acute Care NP Certification

  • That is an individual question, but we find most students feel more confident in doing so. There are several excellent options. The two most common are:
  • Barkley and Associates http:// www.npcourses.com
  • Fitzgerald Health Education Associates http://fhea.com

Should I take a Certification Review Course?

  • And best wishes as you begin your career. You have worked hard at Walden, and we are proud of you and wish you success in your NP career and as a Walden University alumnus!
  • Keep in touch with us and let us know how you are doing.