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Initial Certification

“I have found that having my certification has helped me be the successful candidate for positions that I have applied for over the years.” Read what certified nurses say about the value of earning their credential.

Thank you for your interest in the CNA Certification Program and for pursuing your specialty certification credential!

To become certified for the first time (initial certification), you must apply for and pass the exam. The exam application period, however, is closed for 2019. It reopens January 9, 2020.

New exams in 2020

Starting in January, registered psychiatric nurses can apply to write their nursing specialty certification exams in gerontology as well as in psychiatric and mental health.

The first exam in medical-surgical nursing for licensed/registered practical nurses will take place during the November 1-15 exam window. Please note the application period for the new exam will start on June 1.

Registered psychiatric and licensed/registered practical nurses: CNA membership is now available to you — visit our membership webpage for fees, benefits and instructions on how to join. Members receive a significant discount on their certification application.

Retired exams in 2019

For a certification exam to be feasible there needs to be enough nurses practising in the specialty. This ensures a minimum number of exam writers annually. Five certification exams – gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia and rehabilitation – were considered no longer sustainable for CNA. After much consultation with the respective nursing specialty associations, CNA has decided to retire these exams effective November 2019. After much consultation with the respective nursing specialty associations, CNA has decided to retire these exams after November 2019.

Please note: Nurses certified in any of these five specialties can maintain their credential by renewing every five years through continuous learning only. Renewal by exam is no longer being offered.

Care to Be the Best!

Join the growing network of more than 16,000 CNA-certified nurses at the leading edge of health care.

Certified nurses are…

  • Recognized nationally for their practice excellence and commitment to lifelong learning
  • Valued by employers, because their certification demonstrates specialized knowledge and brings many benefits to organizations
  • Viewed as having enhanced professional credibility

For nurses in Quebec, CNA certification is accredited by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec. Obtaining certification can be claimed as 36 continuous learning accredited hours

Important dates — 2020 initial exam

2020 Poster [PDF, 268.1 KB]
Application window Exam window Results
Spring Jan. 9 – March 2 May 1 – 15 June
Fall June 1 – Sept . 10 Nov. 1 – 15 Dec.

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