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Certification for Nurses: Recognition for Knowledge and Skill

By Currents Editor posted 05-01-2019 09:42


Wendy.pngAnn.pngFern.pngaudrey.jpgBy Wendy Dusenbury, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AGACNP-BC, ANVP-BC, CNRN; (left) Anne W. Alexandrov, PhD, AGACNP-BC, ANVP-BC, NVRN-BC, CCRN, FAAN; (center) Fern Cudlip, MSN,FNP-BC, CNRN, NVRN-BC, ANVP-BC, FNCS; (center) and Audrey Paulson, DNP, FNP-BC, CCRN, CNRN, SCRN (right)

Many of the RNs and APRNs who hold membership in the Neurocritical Care Society (NCS) have membership and certification from other organizations as well. NCS is unique in that it is composed of the numerous disciplines that provide care for the patient in the neuro intensive care unit. Quite often, the nurses of NCS belong to other organizations as well.

Two nursing societies that crossover frequently are ANVC and AANN. Certification is offered for nurses and obtaining one of these nursing certifications demonstrates the knowledge and ability to deliver excellence in nursing care for the unique neuroscience patient population. Certification is an important part of professional development and an excellent way to showcase expertise and an ability to ensure safe, evidence-based patient management. 

Established in 2010, the Association of Neurovascular Clinicians (ANVC) is a nonprofit charitable organization and the only international stroke-specific nursing, advanced practice provider (APP) and allied health professional organization in the world. The mission of ANVC is as follows: “As the number one cause of preventable adult disability, neurovascular disease demands excellence in clinical services to reduce disability and death. Stroke clinicians depend on ANVC to empower them with knowledge and skills, because our patients deserve nothing less.” 

The ANVC developed two advanced certifications, the NeuroVascular Registered Nurse (NVRN) and the Advanced NeuroVascular Practitioner (ANVP) to showcase expertise in acute neurovascular practice. These certification programs enable recognition of clinician attainment of knowledge and skills that promote excellence in acute stroke patient care.

The Neurovascular Registered Nurse (NVRN™) board certification is designed for the registered nurse working in acute stroke clinical practice; unlike other certifications that demonstrate minimum competency in a subspecialty, achievement of NVRN certification demonstrates expertise in acute stroke nursing. Launched in 2011, the NVRN credential was the first stroke nursing certification available worldwide and the first stroke certification recognized by Magnet.  Requirements for eligibility include licensure as a Registered Nurse and evidence of 1,000 clinical practice hours in acute stroke during the immediate 12 months preceding application.   

The Advanced Neurovascular Practitioner (ANVP™) board certification is designed for APPs who have completed formal post-graduate fellowship education and training in vascular neurology.  Exam eligibility is supported by strict criteria to ensure that clinicians are capable of integrating theoretical knowledge with expert clinical practice skills to manage complex acute neurovascular cases. Applicants for this certification must show evidence of completion of a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours of acute stroke advanced training and education along with a completed program of study from a formal post-graduate APP stroke fellowship program and a signed program director verification form. 

As an international organization, ANVC has certified neurovascular clinicians in North America, Australia, Asia and Europe, offering NVRN Review Courses and ANVP Rapid Review Courses in the United States, Australasia and Europe each year. ANVC also partners with the Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology (SVIN) and the American Society of Neuroimaging (ASN) each year to offer educational conference programming designed to elevate basic neurovascular nursing and APP knowledge toward expert level knowledge, analytical skills and practice.  

American Board of Neuroscience Nurses of ABNN is also a non-profit organization founded in 1968 and has more than 5,200 members (nurses and healthcare professionals) worldwide and is nurse specific for neurology nurses. They proclaim to be the leading authority in neuroscience nursing, and The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) is committed to working for the highest standard of care for neuroscience patients by advancing the science and practice of neuroscience nursing. The mission statement of ABNN is: “Led by the ABNN Board of Directors, AANN connects, educates and inspires nurses as leaders who influence comprehensive neuroscience health.”

The organization defines their core values as excellence, innovation, collaboration, integrity and visionary. Their guiding principles strategic thinking, association mindedness, transparency, sustaining resources and results oriented. AANN develops guidelines and cares for all neuroscience patients of all ages. This includes those injured by trauma, accidents or illnesses. Continuing education is provided and they offer two types of certification for both Registered Nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. 

The Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) was developed in 1978 and evaluates knowledge of all neuroscience patients. It is a comprehensive examination and one must have a broad range of disorders under the categories of trauma, cerebrovascular, tumors, immune/infection, seizures, pediatric/development and chronic. It then questions based on basic and complex physiological, behavioral, family and culture, safety and health systems with the majority focus on physiological interventions. Currently, there are 4,600 certificants holding the CNRN with an average passing rate of 72%. 

In 2013, the Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN) exam made its debut. This exam is specific to nursing care for the stroke patient and focuses solely on the stroke patient throughout the continuum of care. This certification has been embraced by the stroke nursing community with 3,758 total certificants in just five years and having a 73% passing rate for taking the test.

AANN hosts to conferences every year. One conference provides continuing education for nurses and addresses all areas of neuroscience from pediatric to trauma to epilepsy and stroke. The other conference is their Stroke Conference, which is focused solely on nursing and stroke care. 

The organization has special focus groups available as well as clinical practice guidelines supported by evidence to assist nurses in providing the appropriate care for our patients. The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing is a peer-reviewed, scientific publication that is recognized for its quality in delivering the latest evidence in neuroscience clinical practice is published monthly.

Both AANN and ANVC are valued resources for the RN and the APRN. Evidence shows that nurses who hold specialty certification produce better outcomes for their patients. Many types of certification available for nurses and most hospitals recognize the value of certification. 

All these certifications are recognized by American Board of Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC), which assures the quality of the certificants meet the highest standards in the industry. For additional information on ANVC products, membership and/or certification, please visit or email info@anvc for more information. For additional information for SCRN or CNRN, visit or email


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