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About Certification

CNA certification is a nationally recognized nursing specialty credential for registered nurses. It is a voluntary credential for RNs who meet specific nursing practice, continuous learning and testing requirements. The first certification exam, offered in 1991, was in neuroscience nursing. Today, nearly 18,000 RNs are CNA certified in one of 20 specialties.

Certification by the numbers

Top five certification specialties

Gerontological: 2,557
Oncology: 1,904
Psychiatric and mental health: 1,760
Perioperative: 1,471
Hospice palliative care: 1,348

Top five certified provinces

Ontario: 8,689
British Columbia: 2,328
Alberta: 1,981
Nova Scotia: 987
Quebec: 887

View the complete data table: Number of Valid CNA Certifications by Specialty/Area of Nursing Practice and Province or Territory as of July 2015 [PDF, 85.2 KB]*

*Citation and reproduction of this material is permitted, when CNA’s Practice and Policy division is acknowledged as the source.

Certification literature and research articles

CNA offers bibliographies related to all 20 nursing specialty areas (listed under each specialty/area). The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) also provides a comprehensive certification bibliography. Topics include: the value of certification, patient outcome studies, continuing competence and more.

Note: The ABNS bibliography is not intended as a study guide. CNA and ABNS do not assess the quality of the articles or the authors’ findings or interpretations. If you come across any errors or omissions in this resource, please contact Melissa Biel, ABNS research liaison.