CCI Blog

Get to Know CNS-CP

Posted by Taylor Niss on Aug 16, 2019 1:29:33 PM


What is the CNS-CP Credential?

The Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative Certification credential (CNS-CP), is designed for advanced practice registered nurses who have completed graduate preparation in the CNS role. Keeping the unique role a CNS plays in mind, this credential is centered around promoting optimal perioperative patient outcomes, which include:

  • Promotion of patient safety
  • Expert guidance and support of nurses and other members of the perioperative team
  • Facilitating the use of evidence-based practice
  • Reducing costs through the design, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of perioperative interventions
  • Recommending innovative solutions to identified gaps in health care delivery systems


A specialty certification, such as the CNS-CP credential, essentially bridges the gap between initial certification as an APRN and specialty practice. Obtaining the CNS-CP credential positions the CNS for future developments in advanced practice and validates perioperative competency at an advanced practice level.

Eligibility Requirements

As previously mentioned, CCI designed this credential for nurses who have completed graduate preparation in the CNS role. Those who are interested in the CNS-CP must also:

  • Have successfully completed an accredited graduate, post-master's certificate, or doctoral CNS nursing program that contains both 3Ps (advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical assessment) and a 500-hour clinical practicum OR can provide documentation of serving in an advanced practice role if the CNS program does not meet the 3Ps and practicum requirements.
  • Hold a current, unrestricted RN and/or APRN license in the United States OR hold a current, unrestricted RN license with recognition as a CNS by a state board of nursing.
  • Be currently working full-or part-time as a perioperative nurse and have completed at least two years and 2,400 hours of experience in perioperative nursing, with a minimum of 50% in the intraoperative setting.
  • Be currently employed as a Clinical Nurse Specialist

For more information on the eligibility requirements, please refer to our CNS-CP Handbook.

Application by Professional Portfolio

For those familiar with CCI’s other credentials (CNOR & CSSM), the process to become CNS-CP certified is a little different. The CNS-CP credential requires the completion of a professional portfolio, rather than sitting for an exam. While portfolios are a recent development for CCI, they are far from new. Other countries, such as Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, have already begun implementing them, and nursing students are familiar with them, as well.

Portfolios showcase initial and continuing competence, along with serving as a unique platform for lifelong learning; therefore, CCI adopted this process for the CNS-CP credential. Additionally, the portfolios are versatile for nurses. Aside from being a tool to apply for certification, they are also suitable for job interviews, performance evaluations, and clinical ladders and promotions. The portfolio has been designed by CCI to capture the following CNS roles:

  • Clinical expert
  • Consultant (Intra- and multidisciplinary)
  • Education (nurse, patient, multidisciplinary, community)
  • Clinical injury (evidence-based practice projects and/or research)
  • Organizational/systems thinking
  • Professional accountability

The subject areas are developed using our job analysis process. CCI conducts a job analysis by surveying working CNS's to determine what information is imperative for them to know and the tasks in which they should be proficient.

What to expect in the Portfolio?

The portfolio will include several key components. First, a pre-approval form must be submitted in order to ensure that initial eligibility requirements have been met. Once approved, applicants will gain access to the forms and documentation to complete a project-based portfolio which will demonstrate the competence of the CNS in incorporating a systems change. A self-awareness tool will also be included, which will primarily be used to drive a plan for recertification when the time comes. More details on the components of the portfolio may be found on CCI’s website.

If the candidate is enrolled in a CNS program with current accreditation standards, the candidate may begin working on the CNS-CP Professional Portfolio project before graduation. The candidate must complete the project after the CNS degree is conferred.

Review Process for the Portfolio

Once complete, the portfolio will undergo a peer-review process, consisting of three peer-reviewers, all of whom are current or restricted CNS-CPs. The peer-review process provides an opportunity for valuable feedback between the perioperative CNSs; while helping ensure the validity and reliability of the portfolio method for certification. Based on the peer review comments, the candidate will have an opportunity to submit additional information required for final approval, if necessary. Upon approval of the CNS-CP Professional Portfolio, the candidate will provide the balance of the certification fee. CCI will award the credential for a period of five years.

Steps to Certification

The steps to obtain the CNS-CP certification begin with ensuring eligibility requirements are met. They will then include:

  • Submit pre-approval form
  • CCI will assign an electronic storage account (Dropbox) with instructions and documents necessary to complete the portfolio
  • Submit CNS-CP Portfolio Review Application and non-refundable portion of certification fee will be collected
  • Portfolio undergoes the peer-review process
  • Final payment and credential awarded after approval of the portfolio

Recertification Process

After the five-year certification cycle, nurses will recertify using a combination of contact hours and points. CNS-CP certified nurses are not immune from the audit process, so CCI encourages nurses to save all documentation.

I'm Interested in Applying!

For more information or any questions about the CNS-CP or for more information, please don't hesitate to contact CCI


Topics: Insider, cns-cp