Frequently Asked Questions About APRN Consensus Model Implementation – for CNS Programs

What is the APRN Consensus Model?

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education is a broad-based model for regulation of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) throughout the United States. The model was developed by the APRN Consensus Work Group and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) APRN Advisory Committee, with extensive input from APRN stakeholders.

It addresses:

  • lack of common definitions of APRN roles
  • lack of standardization of APRN education programs
  • proliferation of APRN specialties and subspecialties
  • lack of common legal recognition of APRNs across states

Intended outcomes are to:

  • ensure public safety
  • facilitate mobility of APRNS
  • advocate appropriate scope of practice
  • increase access to healthcare

When does the Consensus Model go into effect?

The target date for full implementation of the recommendations of the Consensus Model is by 2015. APRN education programs should prepare to be transitioned in 2014.

How does the Consensus Model impact the scope of practice for the CNS?

The Consensus Model language does more to broaden than to limit CNS scope of practice. Under the Consensus Model, all CNSs, regardless of population focus, will be required to attain the knowledge, skills and abilities to care for patients across the continuum from wellness through acute care.

Included within the term “acute care” are the competencies to care for patients who require complex monitoring and therapies, high-intensity advanced practice nursing intervention and continuous vigilance within the full range of high-acuity and critical care.

How does the Consensus Model affect the current CCNS certification offered by AACN Certification Corporation?

Anyone wishing to take the CCNS initial exam must apply by December 31, 2014.  

Current CCNSs may continue to renew their certification into the future, as long as it does not lapse and renewal requirements are met. If a CCNS allows his or her certification to expire, he or she will need to meet the eligibility requirements for one of the Consensus Model-based CNS exams (ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P or ACCNS-N). Current CCNS certificants interested in ACCNS certification will most likely need additional post-graduate education to be eligible to sit for the ACCNS exams.

To provide current CCNSs every opportunity to renew, AACN offers three renewal options:

  • Practice Hours + CEs
  • Practice Hours + Renewal Exam
  • CEs + Renewal Exam

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When should the Consensus Model be implemented into education programs? 

Programs should consider that all students currently enrolled under existing CCNS curricula must apply for the CCNS initial exam before it is retired December 31, 2014.

Which credentials does AACN Certification Corporation offer for CNSs?

In July 2013, AACN launched the ACCNS-AG (Adult-Gerontology CNS) and ACCNS-P (Pediatric CNS) certification programs. The ACCNS-N (Neonatal CNS) certification program was launched in February 2014. These certifications meet requirements for CNS licensure as defined by the Consensus Model.

How does eligibility for the adult-gerontology CNS exam differ from eligibility for the adult CCNS exam?

Eligible candidates for the ACCNS-AG exam must be educated in a graduate-level adult-gerontology CNS program that includes in-depth competencies to care for the entire adult population (young adults, older adults and the frail elderly), across the continuum from wellness through acute care. Education may be in a master’s, post-graduate or DNP program.

How does eligibility for the new pediatric and neonatal CNS exams differ from eligibility for the pediatric and neonatal CCNS exams?

Eligible candidates for the ACCNS-P or ACCNS-N exams must be educated in a pediatric CNS or neonatal CNS graduate-level program that includes competencies across the continuum from wellness through acute care. Education may be in a master’s, post-graduate or DNP program.

Will advanced practice nurses be grandfathered into the new certifications?

No. While individual states may grandfather nurses currently working in the role, making them exempt from new requirements, national certification accreditation standards prohibit AACN Certification Corporation from grandfathering current certificants into the new credentials.

Current CCNS certificants interested in ACCNS certification will most likely need additional post-graduate education to be eligible to sit for the ACCNS exams.

Will a DNP be required for advanced practice certification in 2015?

The Consensus Model does not require or exclude the DNP as an entry-level degree option for APRNs.

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