CNS Exam

CCI will be creating an APRN certification exam for master's prepared Clinical Nurse Specialists. 

An advisory council has been appointed to assist CCI in the development of the Perioperative CNS Specialty Certification Exam. This group of experienced perioperative advanced practice nurses will meet for the first time the end of January.

Perioperative CNS’s who are interested in serving on exam development committees are encouraged to fill out the interest form. Active participation by our perioperative Clinical Nurse Specialist community is paramount to the success of this exam! Sign up to receive important updates about the CNS Exam.

CCI Selects CNS Item Writing Committee

CCI has filled the first test development committee, Item Writers, for the CNS Perioperative Specialty certification. CCI graciously thanks the following professionals for volunteering their time: 

Brandon Bennett, DNP, RN, CNS, CNOR, CEN, NE-BC
Facilitated Healthcare Transitions, Denver, CO 

Amanda Brown, MS, RN, CNOR, PCNS
Children’s Hospital, Aurora, CO 

Monique Eriksen, MSN, RN, CNS, CNOR
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 

Aiken Regional Medical Center, Aiken, SC 

Denise Jackson, MSN, RN, CRNFA 
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX 

Brenda Larkin, MS, RN, ACNS-NC, CNOR
 Lakewood Medical Center, Elkhorn, WI 

Kary O’Connor, MS, RN, CNS, CRNFA
Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, Casa Grande, AZ 

Stephen Patten, MSN, RN, CNS, CNOR
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, OR 

Chris Peredney, MSN, MS, RN, CNOR
St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma, WA 

Elizabeth Pincus, MBA, MSN, RN, CNOR
Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 

Christine Smith, MSN, RN, CNS, CNOR
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Palo Alto, CA 

Julie Thompson, PhD, RN, CNS, CIP, CNOR
Harris Health System, Houston, TX

This committee will convene for two days in mid-May and develop test questions (items) that reflect the tasks and knowledge required to practice as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (Master’s prepared or higher) in the perioperative setting. CCI is now in the process of screening applications for the other two CNS test development committees, Item Form and Form Review. We anticipate announcing these committee members in mid-May.

CCI graciously thanks everyone who filled out a volunteer application as it is a wonderful testimony to your commitment to advancing perioperative nursing.


Is this exam only for Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS’s)?
Yes. Each APN role (CNS, NP, CNM, CRNA) needs to have its own exam. Development of future exams will be based in part of the response of the community to this one.

Will currently practicing CNS’s be “grandfathered” into the new specialty certification?
No.  While individual states may grandfather nurses currently working in the role, making them exempt from new requirements, CCI cannot grandfather currently practicing CNS’s into the new specialty certification credential. Eligibility criteria would need to be met prior to sitting for the certification exam.

Will this exam take the place of initial licensure or certification as a CNS?
No, you will still need to have completed a master’s or doctoral program from an accredited school and be licensed as an APN. Specialty certification is in addition to, not instead of, initial certification.

Will a DNP be required for advanced practice certification in 2015?
The Consensus Model does not require or preclude the DNP as an entry-level degree for APRNs. 

Will holding the CNS perioperative specialty certification meet my state’s APRN licensure requirements?
Because licensure requirements for Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) vary significantly from state to state, CCI cannot guarantee that CNS Perioperative Specialty certification will meet your state's licensure requirements. Your state board of nursing can answer your licensing questions and help determine how this certification can benefit your advanced practice specialty role. You may also wish to check with your employer regarding internal practice guidelines. To contact your state board of nursing, click here.

What will this additional certification do for me?
Specialty certification helps bridge the gap between initial certification as an APRN and actual practice.  This credential would:

  • validate perioperative competency at an advanced practice level.
  • position the Clinical Nurse Specialist for future developments in advanced practice.
  • meet Consensus Model guidelines.

I want to help!  What can I do? 
Fill out the interest form.