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Update on the Public/Community Health Nursing (P/CHN): Certification Examinations

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) made a previous decision to retire the Public/Community Health nursing (P/CHN) examinations in 2005. In light of major public health events and concerns and the increased emphasis on public health nursing, ANCC, the American Nurses Association Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics (CNPE), the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators(ACHNE), the Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing (ASTDN), and the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) have jointly agreed upon a process for continuing the administration of the Clinical Nurse Specialist P/CHN certification examination in 2006 and a plan for updating the examination for the future. The basic specialty (baccalaureate) level of the examination will be on hold at this time.


While the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) exam is being updated to meet current standards and P/CHN competencies, an interim process has been established to supplement certification testing for P/CHN during the 2006 calendar. These interim processes will include the following: (1)identifying current knowledge and skills for advanced P/CHN practice, (2) developing the framework for applicants' reports of evidence of achievement of P/CHN knowledge and skills, (3) convening P/CHN experts to improve and maintain the CNS examination and incorporating interim certification processes, and (4)evaluating the evidence of achievement of required knowledge and skills submitted by applicants for P/CHN CNS certification. Candidates in 2006 would take the existing examination and provide the additional evidence (to be determined) to gain the credential as a CNS.


For the future, ANCC and all of the stakeholder groups will work together to develop and implement strategies to market the examination. The new, updated P/CHN CNS examination will be introduced in 2007 in a paper and pencil format. The goal is to work toward the implementation of a computerized version of the examination consistent with ANCC's established standards and criteria. In addition, the groups will continue to partner regarding the viability of the P/CHN basic specialty examination which will be held in 2006. Further information will be available on the basic level examination after the new clinical specialist examination is in place.


If you intend to apply for the P/CH CNS examination in 2006, you must still do so by the required deadlines, keeping in mind that there will be additional pieces of information required to establish that you have met competencies not tested in the current exam. This will be made available as soon as possible to those who wish to test.


Announcement: Official Name Change

On January 5, 2006, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) announced that the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification, an certification ANCC has offered for 30 years, will continue to be offered, but keeping with contemporary nursing practice, it is now called Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Health Nursing Certification. According to ANCC, there is no difference between the two certifications; they are the same. There has only been a change in the name. At the basic (i.e. non-advanced practice) level there is still a Medical-Surgical Nurse Certification and its name has not changed. If you have any questions please contact ANCC at 301-628-5000 or at 800-284-CERT, or email us at


ANCC Grants Extension to CNS Certification Candidates for 500 Hour Clinical Requirement

The American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Certification met by conference call on December 21, 2005 and voted to extend by one year the deadline date for the educational requirement of the 500 supervised clinical hours. As a result candidates may continue the use of the Form E2 for appropriate documentation of supplemental clinical hours until the end of 2006.


This means that if you graduated from a CNS program with less then 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours, you can make up the additional formal supervised clinical practice hours post graduation before January 1, 2007.


Effective January 1, 2007, graduates from a CNS program with less than 500 hours of supervised clinical practicum will be unable to submit documentation in the form of the E2 indicating completion of the additional clinical hours post graduation and will be ineligible to take the CNS certification exam without additional clinical courses that can be documented on a transcript.


This change reflects the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Standards for Accreditation (Amended 2003) on curriculum development in which "the master's curriculum incorporates knowledge and skills identified in The Essentials of Master's Education for Advanced Practice Nursing (AACN, 1996)."


ANCC has urged all CNS students and faculty members to insure that their education programs include the mandated 500 clinical education hours. ANCC Director of Certification, Mary Smolenski, EdD, APRN, BC, FAANP, CAE stated, "Some nurses are under the impression that this was ANCC's decision, but that is not the case; we are guided by and implement national standards set by such organizations as CCNE, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS), and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). It is essential that students enrolled in CNS programs ascertain that their program meet the new requirements. If they don't, they may find that they graduate but are not able to practice because they are not eligible for national certification. It is the responsibility of both students and educators to make sure that their programs are in compliance."