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Figuring out the whole nursing credentialing thing is very confusing. For the longest time, I didn't know how it should be written.

It wasn't until I started working as a nurse and had to start signing my name did it finally click.

*Disclosure: This article on how to sign your name as a student nurse or an advanced practice registered nurse may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

How to Sign Your Name With Nursing Credentials

Please note that the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), has a helpful pamphlet on this information.

You can find it here, but I've broken down most of the pertinent information below.

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The Order of Nursing Credentials

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There's an order to how nursing credentials are displayed. It goes like this:

  1. Higest degree earned
  2. Your nursing licensure
  3. Any state requirements
  4. Any national certifications
  5. Any recognitions or awards/honors you have

Let's use this example:

Jane Doe, DNP, RN, APRN, FNP-BC

1. List Out the HIghest Nursing Degree Earned

Immediately after your name, you will list out your highest-earned degree.

Listing out your degree is important because it's permanent and stays with you throughout your life (i.e., it can't be taken away from you).

Pro-Tip
You don't usually list other earned non-nursing degrees unless it directly relates to the job you're doing as a nurse.

A perfect example of this would be the chief nursing officer or nurse executive who also has a master's in business administration (MBA).

In this case, you could list the MBA (non-nursing degree), but it would go after the nursing degree.

For instance, using the example above, you would have Jane Doe, DNP, MBA, RN, APRN (if you wanted to include the MBA).

2. List Your Nursing Licensure

As I've stated in numerous videos, the degree is essentially worthless without your nursing licensure.

Meaning you can't practice without your licensure. Because of that, it comes right after your degree. The registered nurse degree (RN) is coming right after the doctoral degree (DNP) in the example above.

What About An Associate Degree?
If you have an associate's degree, it would be Jane Doe, ADN, RN.

3. List Your Specialty

If you've earned any specialty designation, that will go next.

Specialty designation is things such as advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), nurse practitioner (NP), or clinical nurse specialist (CNS).

What If You Have More Than One Certification?
You can list them in the order you got them or list them according to their relevance to your current job.

4. List Any National Certifications

If you have any national certifications, those will go after the specialty designation.

National certifications are certifications that certain nursing specialties must have and even others that you don't necessarily have to have but show you have a higher level of knowledge for that particular specialty.

An example would be the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (PMH-BC) or the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC).

5. List Awards and Honors

The last would be to list any awards and honors you might have received. An example of this will be if you've received the Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).

Pro-Tip
Please note from the example above that the credentials are separated with a comma, and there's no period.

What Nursing Credentials Do I Have to Use?

On the job, you should use the credentials that are most relevant to that job.

If you're writing prescriptions or dealing with legal documents (i.e., EMR notes), make sure to use the minimum credentials required by your state to practice.

If you're speaking or providing testimony as an expert nurse witness, use all your credentials.

How to Sign Your Name as a Student Nurse

You'll usually sign with an “SN” after your name as a student nurse. For example, Jane Doe, SN. Check with your school as they might have you do something different.

How to Sign Your Name as a Nurse

To sign your name as a nurse, you'll start with your highest degree followed by your licensure—for example, Jane Doe, BSN, RN.

How to Sign Your Name as a Nurse Practitioner Student

If you're a nurse practitioner student, you'll add a student designation to the specialty you're doing. For instance: Jane Doe, MSN, RN, FNP-S.

How to Sign Your Name as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Advanced practice nurses will sign their name leading with their degree, licensure, and certifications (including state designations)—for example, Jane Doe, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN.

RN was intentionally left out. You could include the RN if you wanted, but the FNP trumps the RN, and for the same reason, you probably wouldn't put your MSN or BSN with a DNP.

I don't think it's necessary to include RN, but you could if you really wanted.

FNP certification will depend on who accredited the school you graduated from. If it's the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), you'll sign it as FNP-BC.

If your school were credentialed through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), you would sign it as FNP-C.

Contact your school for clarification if you don't know who credentialed your school (FYI, you're not alone if you don't know).

New Nurse Academy

Graduating from nursing school is a joyful time, but it quickly leads to a lot of stress once you start working as a new nurse. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

Have You Read These Yet?

Frequently Asked Questions

No, they're different things. RN (registered nurse) is a licensure designation, while BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) is a degree. You need either a BSN or an ADN (associate's degree in nursing) to have an RN licensure.

  1. Higest degree earned
  2. Your nursing licensure
  3. Any state requirements
  4. Any national certifications
  5. Any recognitions or awards/honors you have

You should sign an RN after your name when you're working in a capacity as a registered nurse, and you're signing something that potentially has legal ramifications.

RN should come after your name and after your highest nursing degree when you're writing it out.

RN should go after BSN when you're writing it out, according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

It means that you're a licensed registered nurse. You can only put an RN after your name if you're a licensed registered nurse.

BSN RN is the correct way to write nurse credentials. The licensure should go after the highest education degree. In this case, the registered nurse licensure should go after the bachelor's degree in nursing.

The credentials for a nursing student will most likely have an S in the initials to show that it's a student. For instance, a student in an RN program will sign their name with an SN after their name to show they're a student. Check with your program. They may want you to do something different.