Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

Professional Nursing Licensure and Certification


The largest certifying body for nurses, the American Nurses Association (ANA), Inc., established the ANA Certification Program in 1973 to provide tangible recognition of professional achievement in a defined functional or clinical area of nursing. 

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a separately incorporated center through which ANA serves its own credentialing programs.  The ANCC bases its credentialing programs on the standards set by the ANA Congress for Nursing Practice.  Goals of the ANCC include promoting and enhancing public health by certifying nurses and accrediting organizations using ANA standards of practice, nursing services, and continuing education. 

Primary responsibility for the ANCC certification and recertification programs rests with the Boards of Certification.  Examples of these boards for nursing practice are:

  • Community Health
  • Maternal-Child Health
  • Medical-Surgical
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health
  • Primary Care in Adult and Family Health
  • Erotological
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Continuing Education/Staff Development
  • General Nursing Practice

In some instances, completion of an accredited educational program qualifies the nurse to sit for the certifying exam.  In most other specialties, a minimum of two years of practice experience in the specialty is required.  Since 1988, all generalist certification programs require a baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing. 

For more information about nurse credentialing/re-credentialing, call (800) 284-2378. Business hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

or  write:

American Nurses Credentialing Center
8515 Georgia Ave, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492


To obtain a copy of the ANCC annual catalog of initial certification requirements, call (800) 284-2378, email to, or write:

Marketing Services
American Nurses Association
8515 Georgia Ave, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492


For information about nursing specialties not already mentioned, contact the appropriate nursing specialty group. Certification is available for Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery and others. Appendix C contains the contact information for these specific specialty organizations. The Internet has numerous listings with their contact data. 


The National Commission on Correctional Health Care certifies Correctional Health Care.  For more information call (773) 880-1460.  Business hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Central Standard Time).

The website is located at,



or write:

National Commission on Correctional Health Care
1145 W. Diversey Pkwy.
Chicago, IL 60614

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