CNS-CP Recertification

What is Recertification?

The continued documented validation of the professional achievement of identified standards of practice by an individual Clinical Nurse Specialist providing advanced practice perioperative nursing care.

What are the Purposes of Recertification?


  • Recognizes the individual Clinical Nurse Specialist who is proficient in practice.
  • Supports the development of theoretical constructs which strengthen advanced perioperative nursing practice.
  • Enhances professional development through continued learning that results in acquisition of current knowledge to expand advanced practice skill sets.

Why Should I Recertify?

The rapid pace of change and the prevalence of technology in the modern perioperative setting require a conscious effort to maintain competency. Certification is recognized for a period of 5 years, with recertification required at the conclusion of that 5-year period. The required CNS-CP recertification activities flow from, and are consistent with the knowledge statements of the Job Analysis, which is performed on a 5-year cycle. The recertification requirements guide professional development activities in providing parameters for acceptable activity, and in maintaining a link to the most current body of knowledge. Linking the certification period to the Job Analysis cycle ensures that certificants are engaged in activities pertinent to their professional development.

Competency is the actual performance in a situation, and consists of three components: knowledge, skills and attitude. Each of these components is a necessary element. The CNS-CP recertification process acknowledges the need for active work in the maintenance of continuing competency by directly addressing 2 of the 3 components. The practice requirement facilitates the maintenance of current skills, and also promotes the acquisition of new skills, through exposure to the practice setting. Other professional development activities e.g., continuing education, facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, which is the second essential component of competency. It is assumed that ongoing professional development and engagement guided by the recertification process will also indirectly influence the certificant and thus effect positive change in attitude, the third component of competency.

When Do I Recertify?

The certified status of a Clinical Nurse Specialist is conferred by CCI for a period of 5 years, at which time a CNSCP may seek recertification. The recertification process requires a CNS-CP to choose a method of recertification, complete recertification activities during the accrual period, and meet recertification eligibility requirements.

What Must I Do to Recertify?

To recertify your credential, you must:

1. Meet the recertification eligibility requirements (these differ from requirements for first-time certification).
2. Choose a recertification method and complete recertification activities during your accrual period.
3. Complete CCI’s application during your recertification year.
4. Pay the application fee.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements to Recertify?

Recognizing that certificants transition into a variety of roles, and all patients benefit from the care provided by a certified nurse, CNS-CP recertification candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements at the time of application:

1. Hold an active CNS-CP credential.
2. Hold a current, unrestricted RN and/or APRN license.
3. Be currently employed as a CNS in the perioperative setting in one or more of the following areas:

    o Clinical expert in delivery of advanced perioperative care
    o Consultant (intra- and multidisciplinary)
    o Educator of nurses, other healthcare providers, patient, family, and/or community
    o Researcher

For those nurses holding both CNS-CP and CNOR and/or CRNFA credentials, recertification eligibility requirements must be met for each credential.

The certifying organization does not discriminate among candidates as to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

What Are the Fees for Recertification?

For a current list of exam fees and available discounts, please visit our website at Please note: Applications cannot be processed without payment. All fees and/or outstanding debts to CCI must be paid by December 31 of your recertification year.

What is An Accrual Period?

The accrual period is the time period in which the certificant must complete continuing education or professional development activities.

CNS-CP Recertification Methods

To recertify the credential, certificants choose a recertification method, which includes a prescribed plan for continued professional development. Certificants have up to 5 years to complete their recertification activities, and apply for recertification the following year.

What are the Recertification Methods?

The CNS-CP Recertification program is made up of two components:

1. Addressing knowledge deficits through ongoing continuing education. The number of contact hours required for recertification is based on the exam subject areas which scored below the competent level. In addition to any contact hours required for individual subject areas, applicants must complete 10 contact hours related to pharmacology.
2. Demonstration of skills through a variety of self-selected activities meant to showcase the unique skills set of the Clinical Nurse Specialist in the perioperative setting. The 125 activity points required for CNSCP recertification may be acquired through any of the 9 eligible activities listed below. Candidates are not required to submit points in every category. All points must be earned through activities that provide content specific to or with direct application to perioperative nursing. Appendix E outlines the specific requirements of recertification by professional activity points.

NOTE: For those CNS-CPs who were granted the credential by sitting on CCI CNS-CP test development committees, the only method for recertifying the credential is by taking the exam. Please see ”Preparing for the Exam” in the certification section of this handbook for more details. Certificants must successfully pass the CNS-CP exam by December 31st of their recertification year to keep their credential. The testing window for recertification by exam differs from that for initial certification. Please review the table below for testing windows. Note that applying for an exam in October or November results in a shortened testing window.

Recertification Option A: Continuing education and Professional Activities
Complete 125 Professional Activity points and the contact hours requirement
Complete 1000 hours as a CNS in the perioperative setting in the 5-year recertification cycle. If the number of practice hours does not meet the minimum requirement, Option B must be chosen. Practice hours may be accrued in any of the following areas:
   o clinical expert in delivery of advanced perioperative care
   o consultant (intra-and multidisciplinary)
   o education of nurses, other healthcare providers, patient, family, and/or community
   o clinical inquiry (evidence-based practice projects and/or research)

Recertification Option B: Professional Activities and Testing (if practice hour requirement is not met)
Complete 125 Professional Activity points.
Pass the certification exam. To prevent the credential from expiring, the last day to register for the examination is September 30 of the year certification is due to lapse. Certificants must take and pass the exam by December 31st of the year certification is due to lapse or their CNS-CP credential will expire.

The same rescheduling, transferring examination windows, cancelling test appointment dates and late/no show policies for CNS-CP certification by examination apply to CNS-CP recertification by exam. Please see ”Preparing for the Exam” in the certification section of this handbook for more details.

How Do I Submit My Recertification Application?

A complete application includes:

  • Application, including personal and work information
  • Required supporting documents
  • Application fee
  • Signed Statement of Understanding