New ABNS survey reveals 148 credentials spanning 53 specialty and subspecialty areas.
More than 1 million U.S. registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) are specialty certified, according to the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), which has released the results of its first major survey of U.S.-based nursing specialty certification boards.
The 2020 ABNS Nursing Specialty Certification Board Survey's purpose was to describe the scope of nursing specialty credentials available to RNs and APRNs. Specialty certification, also called board certification, is the highest professional credential a nurse may earn. They must pass a rigorous, national exam that validates their clinical and professional knowledge and judgment in a well-defined specialty practice area.
"Specialty certified nurses play a significant role in improving patient care and a host of healthcare outcomes," ABNS president Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CPHQ, CENP, FABC, said in a media release. "The fact that over 1 million RNs and APRNs practicing across a wide range of specialties have demonstrated this level of excellence is a testament to the indispensable contributions nurses make."
ABNS invited 56 U.S.-based certifying bodies to describe, via an online survey during May and June 2020, the specialty credentials they offer to RNs and/or APRNs. The response rate was 79%.
The survey found:
- More than 1 million RNs and APRNs are specialty certified.
- 86% of these credentials are available internationally.
- Respondents offer 148 credentials spanning 53 specialty and subspecialty areas. Of the 148 credentials, 76 (51%) are for RNs and APRNs; 29 (20%) are for RNs only; and 43 (29%) are for APRNs only, of which 24 are for APRN initial licensure.
The survey respondents were asked to select up to three nursing specialty or subspecialty areas—from a list of 59 options—that best define the primary practice focus of the nurses holding that credential.
The 10 most-selected specialty areas, in descending order, were critical care, pediatrics, neonatal care, medical-surgical, wound/ostomy/continence, disease-specific, emergency, hospice/palliative care, ambulatory care, and cardiac care.
Specialty certification for RNs occurs after RN licensure and is voluntary. Individuals interested in becoming an APRN must earn an advanced practice specialty certification as part of their licensure requirements, according to ABNS.
“Specialty certified nurses play a significant role in improving patient care and a host of healthcare outcomes. ”
ABNS President Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN.
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
More than 1 million U.S. RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) are specialty certified.
Specialty certification, also called board certification, is the highest professional credential a nurse may earn.
The leading specialty area is critical care.