Frequently Asked Questions About ACCNS-P Certification

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What is the Application Process?
  • Submit exam application any time prior to or after graduation. Receive link to free practice questions.
  • Have official, final transcripts for all graduate-level nursing coursework showing degree/date awarded sent directly from school to AACN.
  • You will be partnered with a nurse specialist to answer questions and provide updates.
  • Eligibility will be evaluated within 2-3 business days of required documents being received.
  • Upon approval, candidates receive a link the same day to schedule their exam appointment.
  • Additional benefits of APRN certification through AACN.

If my RN or APRN license is not unencumbered, am I eligible for certification as an ACCNS-P?
Nurses who do not hold an unencumbered RN or APRN license who are interested in obtaining the ACCNS-P credential may be eligible for Conditional Certification. For questions, please email us at

What is the ACCNS-P?
ACCNS-P is the credential awarded by AACN Certification Corporation to those who meet eligibility requirements and pass the ACCNS-P exam as a pediatric clinical nurse specialist educated across the spectrum of wellness through acute care. The ACCNS-P certification program aligns with AACN’s extensive expertise as the specialty organization that understands the practice of clinical nurse specialists.

The ACCNS-P exam is in alignment with requirements of the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education, is based on AACN Certification Corporation’s comprehensive study of practice of clinical nurse specialists and is targeted at entry-level clinical nurse specialist competencies across the spectrum of wellness through acute care in the pediatric patient population.

Is the ACCNS-P certification exam accredited?
The ACCNS-P exam is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Our APRN certification exams are in alignment with the APRN Consensus Model and other foundational national standards of APRN education, accreditation and regulation and are recognized 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.

Do state boards of nursing accept the ACCNS-P exam?
Yes, the ACCNS-P exam aligns with the APRN Consensus Model and other foundational national standards for APRN education, accreditation and regulation and is accepted for APRN licensure or designation in all states.

While some boards include each exam title and/or credential on their list of accepted exams, many states simply list approved certification organizations with exams accepted for APRN licensure or designation.

ACCNS-P 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).

Is the ACCNS-P exam computer-based? 
Yes, AACN Certification Corporation’s ACCNS-P exam is offered via computer-based testing at more than 300 PSI test sites across the U.S. For a list of test sites visit the PSI Website.

Where can I obtain a copy of the ACCNS-P Test Plan?
Information about the ACCNS-P exam, including the test plan, is available in the ACCNS-P Exam Handbook.

How many items are on the exam?
The ACCNS-P 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 3½ hours to complete the exam.

What are the ACCNS-P eligibility requirements?
Eligibility requirements are congruent with the APRN Consensus Model and other foundational national standards for APRN education, accreditation and regulation. Details can be found in the ACCNS-P Exam Handbook.

What are the ACCNS-P renewal requirements?
ACCNS-P 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, Exam and 25 Pharma CE
Option 3 - 150 CE Points and Exam

For complete information about the ACCNS-P renewal requirements, please refer to the ACCNS-P Renewal Handbook.

How can I obtain a copy of the Scope and Standards for Acute Care CNS Practice?
Scope and Standards for Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice, published by AACN, is available for purchase, AACN product #128110.

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