- What is certification?
- What is accreditation?
- What is the difference between certification and certificate programs?
- What is the value of ABNS membership?
- What is the benefit of attending the ABNS Assembly meetings?
- Why should our organization’s examination program(s) be accredited?
- Why have organizations sought ABNS accreditation?
- Does our organization have to have an accredited examination in order to be an ABNS member?
- Does ABNS verify the certification of individual certified nurses?
Certification, as defined by the American Board of Nursing Specialties, is the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes. (return to top)
Accreditation is broadly defined as a voluntary, self-regulatory process by which governmental, non-governmental, voluntary associations or other statutory bodies grant formal recognition to programs or institutions that meet stated quality criteria. The Accreditation Board for Nursing Specialty Certification (ABNSC), formerly the ABNS accreditation council, is the only accrediting body for specialty nursing certification programs. Accreditation is a peer-reviewed process designed to protect the public interest by applying specific standards to the quality of specialty nursing certification programs. Click here for more information on the ABSNC. (return to top)
Certification refers to an earned credential that demonstrates the certificant’s specialized knowledge, skills, and experience. After meeting defined eligibility criteria, a certification candidate achieves a nationally recognized credential through successful completion of a rigorous examination.
A certificate program is an educational offering that confers a document (certificate) at the program’s conclusion; the participant’s possession of the certificate may be indicative of attendance only and not necessarily a measure of knowledge or skills. (return to top)
ABNS membership — currently comprised of more than a half million nurses — allows advocates of specialty nursing certification to discuss and act on common issues. Members often use each other as resources, sharing innovative ideas and solutions to issues or problems. Members participate in collaborative research efforts to demonstrate the impact of specialty nursing certification. Education and networking opportunities are invaluable. ABNS membership is the best way to connect with other nursing credentialing organizations and dialogue about the specific issues nurses face. (return to top)
Assembly meetings, which are held annually on the first weekends of March and October at various locations throughout the country, allow members and participants to discuss issues of common interest related to specialty nursing certification. Each meeting includes the “ABNS Certification University,” an educational offering designed to help attendees gain more knowledge about testing, assessment strategies, and management of certification organizations. In addition, valuable networking opportunities are built into the program through events such as the President’s reception. A formal meeting of the Assembly also allows for the conduct of ABNS business. (return to top)
Accreditation by ABNSC demonstrates your organization’s commitment to quality. It sets your certification program apart from others as one that meets the highest standards for test development and program administration. Regulatory bodies, employers, consumers and other stakeholders recognize accreditation as an important strategy for public protection. ABNSC accreditation ensures that your certification examination program continues to maintain the highest quality standards. As an organization with an accredited certification examination program, you also have a voice and vote regarding any changes to the accreditation standards. (return to top)
Organizations with accredited certification examination programs have indicated that ABNSC accreditation:
- Is the only accreditation offered specifically for specialty nursing certification programs.
- Gives more prestige and legitimacy to the credential and the specialty.
- Reflects our certification program's attainment of the highest quality standards of the industry.
- Presents our certification program in a positive manner, particularly in comparison to other nursing certification programs that are not ABNSC-accredited.
- Allows us to satisfy employer and regulatory requirements.
- Promotes the recruitment and retention of certificants.
- Offers an opportunity to gain valuable feedback on the rigor and value of the examination and certification renewal policies and procedures.
- Is useful when responding to a candidate's concerns or questions about certification and examination policies and procedures.
- Validates our program's credibility.
- Reinforces our ability to maintain excellence by continuing to meet the standards.
- Provides structure and guidelines for the certification process.
- Provides our specialty practice with credibility as a nursing specialty.
- Makes our exams legally defensible by ensuring that they are of the highest quality from a validity and reliability standpoint. (return to top)
No. ABNS is a membership assembly for organizations offering specialty nursing certification programs. The ABSNC, formerly the ABNS accreditation council, is responsible for all accreditation activities. Both ABNS and ABSNC are led by elected representatives. A nursing certification organization can be an Assembly member without seeking examination accreditation and a nursing certifying organization can seek accreditation of examination programs without being an Assembly member. (return to top)
No. The credentials of individual nurses can be verified only by contacting the organization that awarded the certification. ABNS member email addresses and website links can be found on our Regular Member listing page. The links will take you directly to the website of our member organizations where you can find information on verification of credentials or contact information that will put you in touch with someone at the organization who can help you. (return to top)