Frequently Asked Questions About ACNPC Certification

How does the new APRN Consensus Model impact the ACNPC certification program?

Implementation of the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education, which goes into effect in 2015, will impact your ACNP certification options. For more information, review Frequently Asked Questions about the Consensus Model for NPs available on the Practicing APRN Resources page.

Candidates must apply for the ACNPC initial exam by December 31, 2014.

What is the ACNPC?

ACNPC is the credential awarded to acute care nurse practitioners certified through AACN Certification Corporation. The ACNPC certification program aligns with AACN’s extensive expertise as the specialty organization that understands the practice of acute care nurse practitioners. The ACNPC exam is based on AACN’s comprehensive study of practice of nurse practitioners in acute care settings and is targeted at entry-level acute care nurse practitioner competencies.

Why did AACN develop an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam?

From 1995 to 2001, the national adult ACNP certification program was offered as a joint venture between AACN Certification Corporation and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

In September 2001, largely due to differences in our respective organizations’ visions for the future of certification, we allowed ANCC to buy our share of the program and entered into a specified period of non-competition, as a stipulation of our dissolution contract.

Using the agreed upon non-compete period, AACN spoke extensively with our ACNP constituents to ensure that their needs were fully understood and the Corporation was prepared to meet them. A national job analysis of currently practicing ACNPs was also conducted to determine the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for certification as an ACNP.

In 2007, AACN Certification Corporation launched an adult ACNP certification exam, aligned with our mission to provide comprehensive credentialing for nurses to ensure their practice is consistent with established standards of excellence in caring for acutely ill patients and their families. 

With two certification exams for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners, what is the benefit of AACN Certification Corporation’s exam?

AACN Certification Corporation is a mission-driven organization committed to offering the full spectrum of services, products and resources beneficial to acute and critical care nurses, including acute care nurse practitioners. 

AACN Certification Corporation’s study of practice is conducted regularly on acute care nurse practitioners in acute and critical care settings, assuring that our exam reliably tests current practice. AACN Certification Corporation takes great pride in offering the highest level of customer service. We are pleased to make our trademark service available to acute care nurse practitioners.

Other nursing specialties offer two certification exams. These include pediatric nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners and adult nurse practitioners, each of which has two certification exams offered by different certifying organizations.  

Do state boards of nursing accept AACN’s ACNPC exam?

AACN Certification Corporation has requested approval from each state licensure board. A number of states have approved the ACNPC exam. Review the list of approved states.

Advanced practice certification is not currently required for licensure in some states; however, ACNPC certification provides an opportunity for advanced practice nurses to further validate their skills and knowledge, and allows for reimbursement for services provided by Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). 

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Is the ACNPC certification exam accredited?

All AACN Certification Corporation exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). AACN’s APRN certification exams are recognized as meeting the national criteria for APRN licensure by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and by individual state boards of nursing.

What does “board certified” mean? Are AACN certifications considered board certifications?

Board certified is a term primarily used by physician organizations. Only 3 of the 34 national nursing certifying organizations that are members of the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) label their credentials/programs in this way. While an organization may use the term board certified when referring to their nursing certification programs, it does not reflect a different or higher level of certification.

Board certified in the nursing world simply refers to certification from a nationally-accredited organization that is governed by a board of directors. As such, AACN certification programs are, indeed, board certified. 

Is the ACNPC exam computer-based?

Yes, AACN Certification Corporation’s ACNPC exam is offered via computer-based testing at more than 175 AMP testing sites across the U.S. For a listing of computer-based testing sites visit

Where can I obtain a copy of the ACNPC Test Plan?

Information about the ACNPC exam, including the Test Plan, is available in the ACNPC Exam Handbook.

How many items are on the exam?

The ACNPC exam consists of 175 multiple-choice items, 150 of which are scored; the remaining 25 items are used to gather statistical data on item performance for future exams.

The exam is in a computer linear format, so candidates may skip and mark items and then review and answer them later. Candidates are allowed 3 ½ hours to complete the exam.

What is ACNPC Certification by Endorsement?

ACNPC Certification by Endorsement is for currently certified ACNPs who wish to apply for AACN’s certification as an acute care nurse practitioner. A nurse must meet the ACNPC renewal requirements (practice hour and continuing education; see below) in the 5 years of practice prior to application. 

What are the ACNPC eligibility requirements?

Eligibility requirements are congruent with NCSBN’s Criteria for APRN Certification Programs and The Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. Details can be found in the ACNPC Exam Handbook.

What are the ACNPC renewal requirements?

ACNPC certification is recognized for a period of 5 years. Renewing candidates may complete one of the following renewal options.

  • Option 1 - 1,000 Practice Hours and 150 CE Points
  • Option 2 - 1,000 Practice Hours and Exam
  • Option 3 - 150 CE Points and Exam

For complete information about the ACNPC renewal requirements, please refer to the ACNPC Renewal Handbook

How can I obtain a copy of the ACNP Scope and Standards?

Scope and Standards of Practice for the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, published by AACN, is available for purchase, AACN product #128102. A revised version of this document is expected to be released late 2012.

To order, visit AACN’s Online Bookstore, or call AACN Customer Care at (800) 899-2226, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.   

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