1. Bigony, Lorraine MSN, RN, CNOR, ONC

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The decision to pursue a certification credential is both personal and professional. Experts agree that while there are currently no empirical data to connect certification with quality patient outcomes, that certification validates professional commitment to one's nursing specialty. According to the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI), there's currently over 34,000 perioperative professionals who hold the CNOR credential.1


Benefits of certification

There are many benefits to pursuing a certification credential, including improved job satisfaction, increased sense of empowerment and accomplishment, and improved collaboration with nurses and other team members.2


Since the CNOR credential must be renewed every 5 years, certified nurses are driven to pursue continuing education and have a commitment to lifelong learning. The credential denotes excellence in practice and is tangible proof that the nurse has made the additional effort toward knowledge validation in the perioperative setting. Additionally, certification is rapidly becoming a requirement for job opportunities in Magnet organizations or for those on the Magnet journey.


Candidate requirements

The certification exam test items are developed by a committee of perioperative nurses for CCI. The test development committee bases practice largely on the AORN Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices.3 This resource is essential for preparation; however, candidates can access the CCI website at: for additional exam prep resources.


In order to qualify to take the exam, candidates must have a valid RN license and must have completed a minimum of 2 years (2,400 hours) in a perioperative setting with a minimum of 50% (1,200 hours) of those hours intraoperatively.1


Methods of preparation

The average candidate prepares for at least 2 to 3 months.1 Success can be achieved by using individual study, group study, attendance at a CNOR course or webinar, flash cards, practice question study guides, and perioperative reference books. Since the exam is constructed into nine distinct domains, the candidates may wish to concentrate on those domains in which they've less familiarity initially. Candidates are advised to access the CCI website to become familiar with test-taking requirements, costs, the application process, a 30-question self-assessment tool, and the resources available to ensure a successful outcome.


Is it for you?

Perioperative certification doesn't have to be a daunting task. Rather, the pursuit of this credential should be viewed as a validation of knowledge and commitment to patient safety and quality. Naturally, depending on economic resources and time constraints, the ability to sit for the CNOR exam is personal and individualized. However, for those who make the decision to get certified, success may well be the highlight of a perioperative career.




1. Competency and Credentialing Institute Web site. [Context Link]


2. Wade CH. Perceived effects of specialty nurse certification: a review of the literature. AORN J. 2009;89(1):183-192. [Context Link]


3. Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.; 2014. [Context Link]