Nursing's Alphabet Soup - Nursing Acronyms Explained
The acronyms nurses use to indicate their level of education, professional designations and certifications can sometimes be more confusing than informative. It can be challenging for nurses, too, to determine how to display the credentials they've worked so hard to obtain.
Writing for American Nurse Today, the American Nurses Association's official journal, Betty Smith-Campbell said your highest degree – such as a BSN or MSN – should come first, in capital letters and separated from other credentials by a comma. If additional degrees are all in nursing, only the highest degree should be listed. So a nurse named Jane Doe would list J. Doe, BSN, but not J. Doe, BSN, ASN.
Next come any nursing licenses you have earned, commonly an RN. If you have a more advanced license that supersedes the RN, such as the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), should be listed instead. So, nurse Jane Doe would list J. Doe, BSN, RN - or J. Doe, BSN, APRN.
Finally come the nursing credentials you have earned, such as Certified Nurses Educator (CNE). Nurse Jane Doe's credentials then would read J. Doe, BSN, APRN, CNE.
Whether you're a nurse deciding how to list your credentials or are just curious to understand the qualifications behind the acronyms, this list can help you decipher the alphabet soup of nursing.
- ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing
- BSN - Bachelor's of Science in nursing
- MSN - Master's of Science in Nursing
- DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice
Professional Nursing Credentials
- APRN - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
- LPN - Licensed Practical Nurse
- LVN - Licensed Vocational Nurse
- NP - Nurse Practitioner
- RN - Registered Nurse
- ACNP - Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- CNS - Clinical Nurse Specialist
- ANP - Adult Nurse Practitioner
- FNP - Family Nurse Practitioner
- GNP - Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
- PNP - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
- TCRN - Trauma Certified Registered Nurse
- CNE - Certified Nurse Educator
- CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant
- CNL - Clinical Nurse Leader
- CNO - Chief Nursing Officer
- CRN-A - Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- NA - Nursing Assistant
- AACRN - Advanced HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
- ACRN - HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
- ALNC - Advanced Legal Nurse Consultant
- CBCN - Certified Breast Cancer Care Nurse
- CDN - Certified Dialysis Nurse
- CHPCA - Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator
- CRN - Certified Radiologic Nurses
- OCN - Oncology Certified Nurse
Explore more content like this article
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Nurse?
The ideal path to achieving a nursing degree should align with your professional goals while also building on your experience in the healthcare field. With that in mind, let’s look at the different nursing degree options available.
SNHU Grads Talk Leadership, Education at Business Indicator Series
Dr. Maureen Banks '93MBA and Beth Ann Roberts '90 capped Southern New Hampshire’s 2019 Business Indicator Series with From Bedside to the Boardroom: Leaders in Healthcare session this week and discussed leadership, education and the importance of giving back to the community.
Should I Be a Nurse or a Teacher? You May be Able to do Both
If you're struggling to decide whether to be a nurse or a teacher, nursing educator careers could be for you. As a nurse educator, you can apply your clinical nursing experience to the classroom, helping to educate the next generation of nurses.