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Use of Credentials
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Use of Credentials

Academic institutions offer degrees that may be revoked under only in rare circumstances. These degrees should be listed first, beginning with the highest degree. If the highest degree is not a nursing degree, the highest nursing degree should be listed second. For instance, if you have professional non-nursing degree (i.e., JD or MPH), list it before your highest nursing degree. (e.g., Jane Q. Doe, JD, BSN). Licensure provides the legislated authority to practice nursing in a state (province or country). Licenses are listed second. (e.g., John Q. Doe, MPH, BSN, 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 be 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.

Job Title

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.

State Licensure

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
On The Edge – Summer 2009


How to Display Your Credentials

American Nurses Credentialing Center



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