Frequently Asked Questions About the APRN Consensus Model – for Nurse Practitioners

What is the APRN Consensus Model?

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education, which went into effect in 2015, 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.

The model 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.

Has AACN Certification Corporation revised its adult ACNP certification exam to comply with the Consensus Model?

AACN Certification Corporation completed a study of practice and developed a new exam focused on the adult-gerontology patient population (young adults, older adults and frail elderly) to align with the Consensus Model. The ACNPC-AG exam was launched January 2013.

The ACNPC-AG credential is awarded to those who meet the population-specific educational eligibility requirements and pass the certification exam.

How does the Consensus Model affect the adult ACNPC certification program?

Current ACNPCs may continue to renew their certification into the future, as long as it does not lapse and renewal requirements are met. If you allow your adult ACNP certification to expire, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements for the adult-gerontology ACNP certification exam. Adult ACNP certificants interested in adult-gerontology ACNP certification will most likely need to obtain a post-graduate certificate to be eligible to sit for the ACNPC-AG exam.

Current ACNPCs have three renewal options:

  • Practice Hours + CE Points
  • Practice Hours + Renewal Exam
  • CE Points + Renewal Exam

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Will my state continue to recognize my current ACNPC certification for APRN licensure?

States that currently recognize ACNPC certification for advanced practice licensure should continue to do so; however, this is a state-by-state decision. NPs are encouraged to contact their state board of nursing for clarification about continuation of their practice under the Consensus Model. 

The Consensus Model states that, “Boards of nursing will institute a grandfathering* clause that will exempt those APRNs already practicing in the state from new eligibility requirements.”

*Grandfathering is a provision in a new law exempting those already in or a part of the existing system that is being regulated. When states adopt new APRN licensure eligibility requirements, currently practicing APRNs will be permitted to continue practicing within the state(s) of their current licensure. 

Will AACN Certification Corporation grandfather current ACNPC certificants into ACNPC-AG certification?

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 credential. 

ACNPC certificants interested in ACNPC-AG certification will most likely need additional post-graduate education to be eligible to sit for the Consensus Model-based ACNPC-AG exam. 

What if the board of nursing in my state does not recognize ACNPC certification for advanced practice licensure?

If you practice in a state that does not recognize ACNPC certification, we encourage you to contact your state board of nursing to inquire about their plan for implementation of the Consensus Model, which recognizes the NP as an APRN role. To find contact information for your state board, visit www.ncsbn.org/contactbon.htm.

Will a DNP be required for advanced practice licensure?

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

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How does the Consensus Model affect the scope of practice of NPs?

NPs will be licensed as independent practitioners for practice within at least one of six population foci:

  • psych/mental health
  • family/individual across the lifespan
  • women’s health/gender-related
  • neonatal
  • pediatrics
  • adult-gerontology

Adult-gerontology NPs are required to be educated to care for the entire adult population (young adults, older adults and frail elderly).

Acute care and primary care remain separate CNP roles; this delineation applies only to the pediatric and adult-gerontology population foci.

With the Consensus Model, education, certification, licensure and practice of an individual APRN must be congruent in terms of both role and population focus.

What if I am not currently certified but am practicing as an NP?

We recommend that you get certified as soon as possible. APRN certification eligibility requirements are based exclusively on educational preparation.  

If you do not meet current educational eligibility requirements, coursework to meet ACNPC-AG eligibility must be completed in a post-graduate certificate or DNP program.

As an adult ACNP, how can I become certified through AACN Certification Corporation?

Adult acute care nurse practitioners who are currently certified through ANCC and meet AACN’s current practice, licensure and CE requirements may obtain ACNPC Certification by Endorsement. 

For more details, refer to the ACNPC Endorsement Handbook at www.certcorp.org > Documents & Handbooks

Why did AACN create their own certification program for ACNPs?

In 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 noncompetition, as a stipulation of our dissolution contract.

Using the agreed-upon noncompete 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.  

In 2013, AACN Certification Corporation launched the Consensus Model-based adult-gerontology ACNP certification exam - ACNPC-AG.

As an NP, what can I do to be prepared for implementation of the Consensus Model? 

AACN Certification Corporation recommends the following:

  • Keep your certification current; don’t let it lapse.
  • Stay connected to AACN for the latest updates on Consensus Model implementation.
  • Monitor what is happening in your state and, as needed, advocate for recognition/protection of your APRN role. 

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