Use of Credentials
Academic institutions offer degrees that can never be taken away. For nurses, the highest nursing degree should always be the first listed behind your name. If you have another professional degree (i.e., JD or MPH), list it after your highest nursing degree. (e.g., Jane Q. Doe, BSN, JD). Licensure provides the legislated authority to practice nursing in a state (province or country). Licenses are listed second. (e.g., John Q. Doe, BSN, MPH, RN).
Certification is the process through which an organization (e.g., IAFN) grants recognition to an individual who has met certain established criteria. Typically, certification involves passing an examination and maintaining certification through continuing education. Certifications can be taken away, expire or not renewed. Certification credentials are listed third. (e.g., Jo Ann Doe, AD, RN, SANE-A).
Honors are awards bestowed after years of work and the awards are given in the form of promotion to Fellow or Distinguished Fellow status. Honors are listed last. (e.g., James Doe, MSN, RN, SANE-A, DF-IAFN).
Certificate or CE Courses
Completion of a course (e.g., sexual assault nurse examiner training) or program where a certificate of completion is provided does not mean that the nurse is certified. These courses are considered continuing education and no title/acronym is listed following the name.
If you are currently practicing as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, you may write this title below your signature as a description of your job title.
If your state provides a credentialing process, you should check with the appropriate jurisdictional authorities to determine if use of an acronym or job title is appropriate.
The Alphabet Soup of Credentials and Sorting it All Out
Patricia Speck, DNSc, APN, FNP-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-IAFN, FAAFS, FAAN
On The Edge – Summer 2009