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Advanced Public Health Nursing Certification Confusion


Hey folks!

I'm about to enter a graduate nursing program to obtain my MSN and eventually become a CNS dealing with HIV/AIDS as an advanced public health nurse.

I want to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions to the other threads in the Public/Community Health nursing forum -- i've been voraciously reading them to see what others think about the direction of public health nursing.

My issue (ahem....this week ;) ) is in trying to decipher what the certification requirements for the Advanced Public Health Nurse currently are. I've visited the ANCC page and it seems that the exam for certification is no longer in force as of January 1, 2014 (although it seems if you have it, you can continue to keep it via CEUs). Perhaps there is another option, but I can't seem to find any information.

To further muddy the waters, while applying for school for Fall 2014, there were specific academic requirements in the Public Health Nurse curriculum, including taking advanced health assessment, pathophysiology and pharmacology classes (as well as 500 residency-hours with a preceptor), in order to sit for an certification exam.

I've noticed the new APHN Fall 2014 curriculum (freshly published, btw...) states NOTHING about taking these "extra" courses/hours, nor does it comment on CNS requirements vs. a "normal" APHN requirement.

Anyone have any ideas about what's going on? I'm trying to decide if I should go ahead and take the Advanced Health Assessment course this Fall 2014, or if it would just be a waste of time.

I did email the director of the program, and she said it's definitely NOT a California requirement for the CNS, but it seems like an awfully-large step backwards to suddenly not require more education for a particular specialty.

Anyone with any inside knowledge?

Hi, I am looking at (well, started already) going through the ANCC public health nursing credentialing. The process is now done through portfolio review of your education, experiences, skills and abilities. They no longer offer a test and you have to "prove" your capability throughout an online application system and writing a nurse exemplar based on four domain areas.

I would appreciate anyone that has gone through this portfolio process to see if there are any good examples of exemplars they would share or how they felt the process went in order to receive certification. I appreciate any input on this topic.

ParkerBC,MSN,RN, PhD, RN

Specializes in Medical Surgical/Addiction/Mental Health.

The ANCC published a paper in regards to Master degree program curricula:

  1. Graduate Nursing Core: foundational curriculum content deemed essential for all students who pursue a master's degree in nursing regardless of specialty or functional focus.
  2. Advanced Practice Nursing Core: essential content to provide direct patient/client services at an advanced level (i.e. advance path, advance pharm, and advance health assessment).
  3. Specialty Curriculum Content: those clinical and didactic learning experiences identified and defined by the specialty nursing organizations.

The ANCC may not have listed the courses as requirements simply because their publication is merely a suggestion, rather than requirement. Many schools are beginning to change their curriculum to reflect the suggested changes. I have attached the article for your review-if interested. Otherwise, I don't know anything else about the certification process. Sorry.


ParkerBC,MSN,RN, PhD, RN

Specializes in Medical Surgical/Addiction/Mental Health.

It does appear that to earn the certification, a portfolio must be submitted. I attached a PDF with requirements. It looks, for the most part, streamlined and simple. Good luck to you!


Thanks to both of you for your responses.

It seems like a very labor-intensive process for both the nurse and the review panel, but I guess it gives a better overall picture of professional accomplishment.

Makes me wonder why public health nurse certification is one of the first to change over (of course, i'm assuming this is the case) -- fewer nurses to cry and moan about not being able to take a simple test anymore?

(I did read quite a bit of the graduate education guidelines, ParkerBC, although it did seem like advanced community health nurses are for the most part more of an afterthought).


I'm just wondering if you might be one of the first ones to actually have to submit a portfolio, since January 1, 2014 was the first day this was required. I imagine quite a few (if not most) nurses rushed to get certified by exam prior to that date.


Specializes in Community Public Health Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

I'm planning to start working on my portfolio. I'm quite a unique case as I have a generic MSN (with the 3 P's in case I want to get further certificates) and MPH, so I qualify via a non-traditional route. I did ask if they would refund the fee if I didn't qualify for the portfolio and they said all but a small processing fee would be returned if I ended up not qualifying this route. I live in California and the public health CNS does not qualify via this 3rd method. It only qualifies with certain school programs who have a relationship with the BRN if you've completed the entire APHN-CNS curriculum and not partial like I have. If anyone has done this, I would love to hear how they did it.