About CNS-CP Certification

Certification is the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experiences demonstrated by the achievement of standards specified by an agency association.  

CCI offers the Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative Certification (CNS-CP) for masters-prepared Clinical Nurse Specialists. We offer this credential to recognize the important role CNSs have in delivering safe patient care.

CNS-CP certification validates the achievement of the CNS who has chosen to seek current proficiency as an advanced practice nurse practicing in the perioperative (pre-, intra-, and post-operative) setting. This specialty certification is in addition to, not in place of, primary population-focused certification.  

Upon successful completion of the certification process, the CNS-CP credential is awarded for a five-year period.

CNS-CP Certification Steps

  1. Meet the certification eligibility requirements.
  2. Complete the CNS-CP Pre-Approval Form.
  3. Upon approval, you will be assigned an electronic storage account with instructions and the documents needed to complete your portfolio.
  4. Once your portfolio is completed submit the CNS-CP Portfolio Review application. A portion of your certification fee will be collected during this step.
  5. Upon approval of your CNS-CP Professional Portfolio the balance of the certification fee will be submitted before the credential is awarded. 
  6. The CNS-CP certification is awarded for a period of five years.

Certification Eligibility Requirements

Education Requirements

Candidate must meet one of the two requirements:

  1. Successful completion of an accredited* graduate, post-master’s certificate, or doctoral program in nursing which has prepared the applicant for the CNS role. The program must contain both core courses (advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical assessment) and a precepted 500-hour clinical practicum in the CNS role, OR 
  2. A master’s, post-master’s certificate, or doctoral degree in nursing from an accredited CNS program along with documentation of serving in an advanced practice role may be accepted in lieu of graduating from a program which did not include core courses and the precepted 500- hour clinical practicum.
  3. * Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) 

    Licensure Requirements

    Candidate must meet one of two requirements: 

    1. Hold a current, full, unrestricted license (RN and/or APRN) in the United States, OR
    2. Hold a current, full, unrestricted RN license with recognition as a CNS by a state board of nursing.  

    Experience Requirements

    Candidate must meet one of the two requirements:

    1. If enrolled in a CNS program with current accreditation standards*, the candidate may begin work on the CNS-CP Professional Portfolio project prior to graduation. The project must be completed after the CNS degree has been conferred, OR
    2. If graduated from a CNS program prior to implementation of these standards, candidate must validate 2,400 hours and 2 years as a practicing CNS in the perioperative setting.

    * Program must include advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, physical assessment, role-specific classes, and a precepted 500-hour clinical practicum  

    Additional Requirements

    • Have completed a minimum of 2 years and 2,400 hours of experience in perioperative nursing, with a minimum of 50% (1,200 hours) in the intraoperative setting.
    • Be currently employed as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the perioperative setting.

    Certification Fee

    The total CNS-CP certification by portfolio fee is $375. Of this amount, a non-refundable fee of $125 will be collected when the portfolio is submitted for peer review. The remaining $250 fee is due at the time the portfolio is approved. Active CNORs receive a $50 discount which will be deducted from the $250 fee.

    Certification by Portfolio Application


    The CNS-CP Professional Portfolio is a mechanism for demonstrating advanced levels of knowledge and skills in perioperative practice. The hallmark of a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in the perioperative setting is to assist in managing the care of complex surgical patients. The portfolio is therefore based on a project whose purpose is to promote quality patient outcomes.

    The portfolio is designed to capture the following CNS roles:  

    1. Clinical expert
    2. Consultant (Intra-and multidisciplinary)
    3. Education (nurse, patient, multidisciplinary, community)
    4. Clinical inquiry (evidence-based practice projects and/or research)
    5. Organizational/systems thinking
    6. Professional accountability

    Certification Application Process

    The portfolio application process includes two steps:

    1. Submission of the CNS-CP Pre-Approval Form:
            The following documents must be submitted with the pre-approval form and approved before an                     applicant may begin the portfolio process:
                     A. Photocopies of RN and/or APRN license(s) or a photocopy of the online verification of current                        licensure from the state board(s) of nursing.
                     B. An original transcript showing degree conferred and all graduate-level coursework. No faxed,                         scanned, e-mailed, or photocopied transcripts will be accepted.
                     C. Verification of CNS primary certification, if held. A physical or electronic copy is acceptable.
    2. Once approved, the applicant will be given access to an electronic storage file and instructions on how to complete and submit the professional portfolio.

    If you have questions about applying for CNS-CP certification or would like more information, please contact CCI at cns-cp@cc-institute.org.

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