Jump to content

Alphabet Soup of a Title

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

can-we-simplify-alphabet-soup-credentials.jpg.e373ab5002a69cb457f716c88acc0db4.jpg

I've heard from many others referring to the acronyms used by nurses after their name as being an alphabet soup, and I agree. It's superfluous. I understand that not all RNs have a BSN and not all APRNs are NPs or CRNAs. But wouldn't it serve to better succinctly clarify our title by limiting it to a single acronym?

As with physicians, one can be a pediatrician, rheumatologist or dermatologist and still be John Doe/Jane Doe, MD. It's a given that an NP is an RN/BSN with a minimum masters degree and is also an APRN. And now with the DNP, it's understood than an NP with a DNP is all those other things mentioned with the added educational accomplishment. What's the point with writing Jane Doe, DNP, FNP-BC, AGACNP-C, APRN, MSN, RN (While their colleagues just write Jane Doe, MD or John Doe, PharmD)? Why not just be John Doe/Jane Doe, DNP? I find even adding FNP, PNP, AGACNP, CNM, PMHNP excessive, so I typically shy away from writing it after my name.

Any thoughts on this?

J_W, DNP, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Critical care. Has 28 years experience.

I know in Texas there are rules regarding displaying credentials for APRNs and RNs... So, some of the issue is state boards of nursing rules/regulations. In Texas the nurse is always held to the highest certification, so if a person is an APRN then they are held to that standard regardless of what role they are functioning in. In Texas the APRN must have APRN listed along with the type of APRN such as FNP, AGACNP, CNS, CRNA, CNM, PNP, NNP...It would be Jane Doe, DNP, APRN, FNP or John Doe, MSN, APRN, AGACNP

I do agree it would be nice to have a succinct title. Just not sure how it would work with the 4 APRN titles and then the different APRN recognition's that vary by state. So the state rules/regulations are the issue.

The ANCC recommends that we all list the degree, licensure, state designation/requirement, national certification, awards and honors, etc., (in that order) after our names. That's probably why people do it. I also imagine it is because people are proud of all the different things that they've done and accomplished and want to show it off, which is fine. I know that nurses encourage other nurses to do that. Case in point: Margaret Fitzgerald wrote an article about how to list NP credentials and the intro paragraph (not written by her), states, "Dr. Fitzgerald offers advice on how and when you should show off your full set of hard-earned, well-deserved professional credentials that follow your name."

Personally, I assume that if someone is an NP that they have their master's so the MSN part is not needed. Also, I'm automatically an RN because I'm an NP so I omit that as well. If someone is a CNS, then I understand why they'd want to include the RN but again, I believe that is already embedded into the CNS designation, but maybe they do it for non-RNs that don't know what a CNS is. For signatures, I just put NP after my name. For "official" stuff, I might say AGNP-C or NP-C and then my subspecialty certification and that's it. I'm all about keeping it short and simple.

I live and work in California and am unaware of any "rules" of how I should write my credentials after my name. I doubt the credentialing police will hunt me down if I get it wrong.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I agree that we should try to keep it simple when we can. Most experts (including ANCC) recommend only listing the highest nursing degree, not all the lower ones leading up to it. Hence, I only list my PhD and omit the MSN and the BSN. I just list my highest nursing degree, my licence and my specialty certification. Some people have multiple specialty certifications -- and I think it is appropriate to list them. But not the technical skill ones, such as CPR. Some people try to pad their signatures with as many things as they can think of. That demeans the whole credentialing system.

J_W, DNP, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Critical care. Has 28 years experience.

The state of Texas updated the rule back in Feb of 2019, for APRNs as I was non compliant...when I read the rule for APRNs...having to put APRN behind their name. I emailed as I'm not always in that role, thus did I still need to put APRN behind my name or only when I was in that role...anyhow never got a direct answer, obviously the Board isn't going to be specific. Short answer was yes as that is the standard to which I am held, thus I put APRN an left off RN...then pit my CNS and CCRN aftet that. I'm not sure of other states rules about APRN titles, but since each state is different whe it comes to APRN recognition I always tell people to also check with their state board of nursing too.

Edited by J_W

I couldn't agree more OP. I sometimes chuckle at the laundry list of acronyms that all say the same thing. It's like "we get it, you're accomplished" 😆

ArmaniX, MSN, APRN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 8 years experience.

I only list the important stuff.

Armani MSN CRNP AGACNP-BC Honor Roll Student (2nd grade).

jfmDNP

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

12 hours ago, ArmaniX said:

I only list the important stuff.

Armani MSN CRNP AGACNP-BC Honor Roll Student (2nd grade).

I can always add my Summer cook off award, CBBQ-RN.

jfmDNP

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

14 hours ago, ToFNPandBeyond said:

I couldn't agree more OP. I sometimes chuckle at the laundry list of acronyms that all say the same thing. It's like "we get it, you're accomplished" 😆

Yep. Aren't we taught in APA to be concise?

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

This is one of those "culture shock" for me when I switched career from finance to nursing. In finance, it is considered silly to put your degrees behind your name unless it's a PhD. Nobody ever puts "MBA, MS, BS" after the name (these degrees are dime a dozen). People do put certain certifications behind their names but only if they are considered prestigious (difficult to obtain with low pass rates).

I'm qualified for LOL, Lil' Ol' Lady, for those who don't know. Unfortunately, the credential polizei won't let me use the title because at my weight, I'm not very Lil'.

jfmDNP

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

4 hours ago, umbdude said:

This is one of those "culture shock" for me when I switched career from finance to nursing. In finance, it is considered silly to put your degrees behind your name unless it's a PhD. Nobody ever puts "MBA, MS, BS" after the name (these degrees are dime a dozen). People do put certain certifications behind their names but only if they are considered prestigious (difficult to obtain with low pass rates).

I think there's some historical context behind it. Perhaps it's due to a time when nurses were seen merely as the doctor's indispensable helper. Now, not so much. Nurses earning doctorates and highly regarded certifications and owning private practices running the show.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

The reason I include my credentials on my ID badge is not for the patients (except that it may help them to know that I am a scholar and project coordinator and not a practitioner). It is so that staff members who don't know me can see who I am.

I work in a facility where the use of first names is common -- so that is what people call me, my first name only. But when I meet strangers, it is a courtesy to them to let them know who I am without making a big deal of it. By looking at my badge, they can see what department I am in and have a clue as to my "rank" in both the formal and informal hierarchies that exist in any community. With the information on my badge, nothing has to be said while we all continue to use our first names and maintain friendly working relationships.

In that way, it is sort of like putting a bell on a cat. The cat may feel proud of his bell -- but the real beneficiaries of the bell's presence and function are the birds.

llg, PhD, RN, NPD-BC

jfmDNP

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

14 minutes ago, llg said:

The reason I include my credentials on my ID badge is not for the patients (except that it may help them to know that I am a scholar and project coordinator and not a practitioner). It is so that staff members who don't know me can see who I am.

I work in a facility where the use of first names is common -- so that is what people call me, my first name only. But when I meet strangers, it is a courtesy to them to let them know who I am without making a big deal of it. By looking at my badge, they can see what department I am in and have a clue as to my "rank" in both the formal and informal hierarchies that exist in any community. With the information on my badge, nothing has to be said while we all continue to use our first names and maintain friendly working relationships.

In that way, it is sort of like putting a bell on a cat. The cat may feel proud of his bell -- but the real beneficiaries of the bell's presence and function are the birds.

llg, PhD, RN, NPD-BC

It's certainly acceptable to add PhD after your name and appropriate to add RN to distinguish you from a someone with a PhD in sociology or molecular biology for example who's not an RN as most RNs who get their PhD get a PhD in nursing.

As for me, I simply write "jfm, DNP" - plus you can only write so many letters after your name on a lab coat. But mostly, patients know me as the guy who writes RX, interprets their ECGs, does a bit of neuro and MSK exam here and there and tells them to follow up in 2 weeks, with a smile on my face of course.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Thirteen.

I remember noting the creds behind some CEU author I was reading at the time. Yep, thirteen. The author was quite knowledgeable but all the clusters of degrees & certs was just so over-the-top.

I'm sure the author was proud of her education & experience, and I also recognize educational accomplishment. But I was NOT so overly impressed as she must have been of herself.

(I remember in 1979 writing my new BSN, RN, C after my name and how it looked so fluffy & smug. Only did it a few times more afterwards.)

WestCoastSunRN, MSN, CNS

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 25 years experience.

I"ve been wondering about this, too, as a new APRN. I have a few important certs and am working on another. I got them in pursuit of knowledge/expertise that benefits my practice and hopefully makes me more competitive. But I don't want to put them all behind my name. I figure, it is something that needs to be considered in context. If you are speaking at a critical care venue or published in a CC journal, people are going to be interested in your clinical credentials -esp any that pertain to what you are speaking/writing about. But in everyday practice, I think less is more.

Also, having both RN and APRN licensure listed seems redundant - is there ANY state you don't have to have an RN license in order to have an APRN one?

Now on the resume? That's the place to list every one of them!

jfmDNP

Specializes in Cardiology and Family Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

1 hour ago, WestCoastSunRN said:

I"ve been wondering about this, too, as a new APRN. I have a few important certs and am working on another. I got them in pursuit of knowledge/expertise that benefits my practice and hopefully makes me more competitive. But I don't want to put them all behind my name. I figure, it is something that needs to be considered in context. If you are speaking at a critical care venue or published in a CC journal, people are going to be interested in your clinical credentials -esp any that pertain to what you are speaking/writing about. But in everyday practice, I think less is more.

Also, having both RN and APRN licensure listed seems redundant - is there ANY state you don't have to have an RN license in order to have an APRN one?

Now on the resume? That's the place to list every one of them!

Actually I've kept my resume and cover letter to the minimum requirement. In fact I was just offered and accepted a competitive position. The docs et al. who interviewed me made comments of my educational achievements and level of motivation. They simply just needed to read my cover letter, look at my resume and speak with me to know that I was the right fit. So no need to flaunt the entire alphabet after my name.

I recently read a post from a resident doctor's page taking a jab at our string of As and Zs after our names. They don't seem to be impressed either.

7 hours ago, amoLucia said:

Thirteen.

I remember noting the creds behind some CEU author I was reading at the time. Yep, thirteen. The author was quite knowledgeable but all the clusters of degrees & certs was just so over-the-top.

I'm sure the author was proud of her education & experience, and I also recognize educational accomplishment. But I was NOT so overly impressed as she must have been of herself.

(I remember in 1979 writing my new BSN, RN, C after my name and how it looked so fluffy & smug. Only did it a few times more afterwards.)

This is what I'm talking about. It borders on titular obsession.

Edited by jfmDNP

J_W, DNP, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Critical care. Has 28 years experience.

Just be sure to check your state BON requirements for what needs to be included behind your name. I'm sure every state is different.