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Nursing's Alphabet Soup: Nursing Acronyms Explained

A child testing a stethoscope on her nurse, who has the nursing acronym RN

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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.Lokelani Ahyo, DNP, RN, CNE, a clinical faculty member of the undergraduate nursing programs at SNHU

There is no legal requirement for how you display your credentials, according to Lokelani Ahyo, DNP, RN, CNE, a clinical faculty member of the undergraduate nursing programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). However, she said the typical format is:

  • Highest level of education
  • Licensure
  • Certification
  • Honors

For example, Jane Smith, MSN, APRN, CNE would be a nurse who has completed a Master of Science in Nursing, holds an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse license and is a Certified Nurse Educator.

"It is important to remember that listing credentials should balance displaying information and brevity," said Ahyo.

Although you don't need to list all your degrees and certifications, displaying them helps to show your hard work and commitment.

"It takes a lot of time, education and dedication to become a nurse," said Ahyo, who holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a concentration in Nursing Education Leadership and is a Certified Nurse Educator.

If want to become a nurse, research the degrees and certifications you're interested in, the requirements for them and where to obtain them.

What are the Acronyms for Nurses?

Whether you're a nurse deciding how to note your credentials or are just curious to understand the qualifications behind the acronyms, this list can help you decipher the alphabet soup of nursing.

Some of these degrees and certifications require education and other qualifications that are not offered at SNHU.

Nursing Degrees

SNHU does not currently offer nursing degrees at the associate or doctoral level.

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Types of Nurses

  • ACNP - Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • ANP - Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • APRN - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • CCRN - Critical Care Registered Nurse
  • CNS - Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • FNP - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • GNP - Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • LPN - Licensed Practical Nurse
  • LVN - Licensed Vocational Nurse
  • NIC - Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
  • NNP - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • NP - Nurse Practitioner
  • PMHNP - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • PMHCNS - Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • PNP - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • RN - Registered Nurse
  • SNP-BC - School Nurse Practitioner
  • TCRN - Trauma Certified Registered Nurse
  • WHNP - Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Nursing Certifications

  • 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
  • CEN - Certified Emergency Nurse
  • CHPCA - Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator
  • CRN - Certified Radiologic Nurses
  • CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant
  • CNE - Certified Nurse Educator
  • CNL - Clinical Nurse Leader
  • CNM - Certified Nurse Midwife
  • CNML - Certified Nurse Manager and Leader
  • CNRN - Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse
  • CNO - Chief Nursing Officer
  • CRN-A - Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • CRRN - Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse
  • NA - Nursing Assistant
  • OCN - Oncology Certified Nurse
  • ONC - Certified Orthopedic Nurse

Source: and

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU nursing program that can best help you meet your goals.
Ashleigh Worley '22 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at SNHU. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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