nursing credentials

What is the Right Way to List your Nursing Credentials?

Have you ever heard of the word ‘Alphabet soup?’ If you belong to the nursing field then this might be a known term for you. The confusing nature of nursing credentials is one of the major reasons for the universal spreading of this term. The letters that follow a nurse’s name are often complicated to understand for some professionals in the medical field, and especially to patients as well as families. Therefore, nursing credentials need a proper, consistent structure that showcases the right and apt skills a nurse can have. Furthermore, nursing credentials ascribe hard-earned degrees, licensure, certifications, and other recognitions to your name.

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), there is a standardized way of listing six fundamental types of credentials in the nursing field. These follow your name in an established order: degree, licensure, state designations, national certifications, awards, and honors, along with skills suitable to your work. Therefore, it is extremely important to list the credentials clearly in a right way.

Importance of listing credentials

Having a standard way and adhering to it makes sure that everyone-including nurses, healthcare providers, consumers, third-party payers as well as government officials- comprehend the significance and worth of credentials along with your professional abilities. Moreover, if representatives from different firms are unable to view your achievements listed clearly and coherently, it could reduce your chances of finding a job. Thus, we present you with the right way to list your nursing credentials which will also aid in jumpstarting your career!

The Best Way To List Your Nursing Credentials

Following the guidelines discussed below will definitely help you enlisting the nursing credentials correctly.

  1. Follow the Order

As previously mentioned, to display your nursing credentials effectively the ANCC has established a standard listing order for all the nurses to follow. It’s important to understand and acknowledge them so there is no room for errors. The most preferred and accepted order is:

  • Degree: After your name should follow your highest-earned accomplishment from a university or institution as an abbreviation. Degrees are written as follows:
  • Doctoral degrees – Ph.D., D.Ph., Ed.D., D.N.S and D.N.P.
  • Master’s degrees – M.S.N., M.S., and M.A.
  • Bachelor’s degrees – B.S.N, B.S., and B.A.
  • Associate degrees – A.D., A.D.N.

So, for instance, if you’ve done a master’s of science in nursing then you will write it as ‘MSN.’ However, it is every individual’s choice as to whether they wish to list all of their degrees or not.

1 – Licensure:

Licensure is any certification or license you hold to practice your nursing career. The two most known types of credentials for this section include RN (registered nurse) and LPN (licensed practical nurse). The aim is to certify family, adult, pediatric, geriatric, and acute-care nurses.

2 – State Designations:

these are quite similar to licenses, however, they include advanced practices that the individuals can execute in their state. Such as APRN (advanced practice registered nurse), CNS (clinical nurse specialist), and NP (nurse practitioner). Interestingly, the job of NP has earned the 3rd position according to the U.S. News and World Report’s 2021. 

3 – national Certifications:

Certain organizations, like the ANCC present people with national certificates or titles. Some of the certificates include family nurse practitioner-board certified (FNP-BC) and registered nurse-board Certified (RN-BC). These are known as national accreditations.

4 – Awards and Honors:

While listing awards and honors in the nursing credentials, make sure they are relevant to your career. Mostly, awards and honors acknowledge outstanding achievements in nursing, such as FAAN (Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing) and FCCM (Fellow of Critical Care Medicine).

5 – Other Recognitions in nursing:

Other recognitions include all the other achievements or licenses that don’t directly relate to the nursing field, however, emphasize additional skills relating to your line of work. Examples include computer skills, editor, or Emergency Medical Technician certifications.

2. Include the Most Relevant Credentials

When listing your nursing credentials, it’s vital to keep in mind that you’re not going overboard with irrelevant information. Although you can list as many degrees and certifications you like, it’s suggested to only display the most relevant credentials.

This means you pick the information that’s related to your field or that applies to what you’re using them for. For instance, if you’re applying for a nursing position at a hospital or any healthcare facility, list the credentials that best fit the designation’s responsibilities and required experience.

3. display the Correct Format

There is a specific format that some hospitals and other healthcare facilities might expect you to follow. So, after writing your name accompanied by your credentials in the order mentioned above is where step no.3 enters.

It’s very important to split up your name and all corresponding credentials with a comma. Also, avoid periods from all the acronyms. For example, when you list a doctorate, the right way to write it is ‘PhD.’, rather than ‘ph.D.’. In the end, it should look something like this: Daniel Ramsay, BSN, RN, EMT.

4. Listing Multiple Certifications/ cRedentials rightly

This is more of a tip than a step, but equally important when listing your credentials. If you hold a couple of certifications or licenses that you’d like to add, such as an RN-BC and an FNP-BC, you may list them in order of preference. It is also advised by ANCC to list the non-nursing achievements at the last to highlight the relevant ones first.


Nursing, by profession, is a difficult field and nurses are the backbone of any healthcare facility. But, before you enter the nursing world, it’s of utmost importance that you learn to list the credentials properly and accurately to make a quality impression and strengthen the chances of your employment.

Often, these minute details get ignored when it’s the details that matter. Hence, to have a promising career in nursing, make sure you follow the credentials order and familiarize yourself with its basics.

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