Frequently Asked Questions

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MSNCB and AMSN
General Certification
CMSRN Exam
CCCTM®
General Recertification
Recertification – Tracker
MSNCB FailSafe Certification Program™

MSNCB and AMSN

What is the difference between MSNCB and the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)?

MSNCB is the certification arm of AMSN and AMSN is the professional organization arm of MSNCB. AMSN and MSNCB work collaboratively to promote excellence in medical-surgical nursing practice through certification and professional development.

Certification

If I am a few months shy of meeting the eligibility requirements, can I still apply?

You must meet eligibility requirements at the time of application. You will need to wait until you have met all 3 eligibility requirements of the exam to apply.

How much time do you recommend I study?

MSNCB does not offer a recommended time as this is an individual preference. Some nurses begin their study preparation 6-12 months prior to taking the exam. Others begin studying when they apply for the exam.

When are the dates for computer-based testing (CBT) testing?

CBT doesn't have specific dates. Each site gives the exam between 2-6 times a week. You are assigned a 90-day window for testing. When you receive your permit, you choose your exam date and location within the 90 days based on the testing center availability and your schedule. MSNCB does not assign a date or location to you.

Where can I take the computer-based testing (CBT) exam in my area?

There are more than 230 sites nationally through the computer company, PSI. About 3-5 weeks after applying, you will receive your exam permit from the testing agency, C-NET. The permit will contain further information on how to find specifics of CBT sites in your area. You do not select the date or location of your exam at the time of application and MSNCB does not assign a date or location to you.

Can I take the CMSRN exam overseas?

If you or a spouse is serving in the military, MSNCB provides the exam overseas via paper-and-pencil (P&P) through our testing agency, C-NET. To set up the site, have your educator contact Edie Nugent at C-NET at edie.n@cnetnurse.com to begin planning.

Can I get an extension on my computer-based testing (CBT) window?

If you have been assigned a 90-day window and you need more time, you can extend the window one time only (fees apply). Learn more here.

Can I reschedule my exam?

You can reschedule a computer-based testing (CBT) exam up to 48 hours prior to your appointment within your 90-day window. If you need to reschedule outside of your window, you will need to apply for a one-time-only extension, with applicable fees.

Paper and pencil exams cannot be rescheduled.

I have to cancel my exam. How do I do this?

MSNCB does not accept cancellations for the CMSRN or CCCTM exams.

However, MSNCB understands emergencies happen. If an emergency occurs which prevents you from testing, please send your cancellation request in writing to the National Office with supporting documentation. Cancellations are handled on a case-by-case basis. If granted, you will receive a refund, less a non-refundable processing fee, of your payment via the way you paid for it. Learn more.

Should I take the exam by computer or paper?

The CMSRN exam is offered in two different formats, computer and paper. The exam itself is the same. It's a matter of which format with which you are most comfortable and the flexibility of your schedule. Over 95% of candidates take the computer-based test.

The CCCTM exam is offered by computer only.

Are contact hours awarded for the certification when I pass the exam?

No contact hours are awarded for passing the CMSRN or CCCTM certification exams.

Do I need to have a BSN to take the exam?

No, there are no academic criteria required for the CMSRN or CCCTM exam. You do not need a BSN.

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CMSRN Exam

What's better - ANCC's or the CMSRN credential?

The CMSRN exam and ANCC's exam are both targeted for medical-surgical nurses and equal in status. Both programs are accredited, both are recognized for Magnet status, and both are well known in the nursing community.

The CMSRN certification is endorsed by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, the membership organization representing the specialty of medical-surgical nursing. Also, the CMSRN is more affordable and doesn't require contact hours to sit for the exam. For an in-depth look at the differences, view this chart.

Is the CMSRN certification accredited by ANCC?

ANCC does not approve or accredit certification examinations. ANCC is one of about 40 boards/centers that offer certification examinations in various nursing specialties. All of these boards offer nationally standardized examinations that are prepared using accepted testing standards.

Many certification boards are members of the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), the "board of boards." MSNCB has been a member of ABNS since 2004. The CMSRN certification has been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC), the accredited branch of ABNS, since January 2009.

ANCC offers the largest number of tests. A large number of nurses are certified by boards other than ANCC, such as AACN Certification Corporation for critical care nursing, BCEN for emergency nursing, ONCC for oncology nursing, and NCC for women's health nursing.

Is the CMSRN credential recognized by the Magnet Recognition Program?

The Magnet Recognition Program recognizes the CMSRN credential. Contact Magnet directly (magnet@ana.org or 800-284-2378) if your hospital will not recognize the CMSRN credential.

What if I am already a med-surg certified nurse?

If you are already certified in med-surg by ANCC, you can bypass taking the exam. Review the eligibility requirements for Exam Exemption, and then apply using the Exam Exemption Application. You may apply thirty (30) days prior to the current certification expiration date, or up to one (1) year after the expiration date with a late fee.

What is the exam permit?

Approximately 3-5 weeks after you apply for the exam with MSNCB, the testing agency, C-NET, will email and mail your exam permit.  The permit lists a 90-day window within which to schedule and take your exam.  The permit also contains information on who to contact to schedule your exam date.

Who do I contact if I don't receive my exam permit?

If you have not received your permit within 5 weeks after you apply, call the testing agency, C-NET, at 800-463-0786, ext. 11 or email info@cnetnurse.com immediately.

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CCCTM Exam

As of August 22, 2019, at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Saving Time, the MSNCB Board of Directors is suspending acceptance of new applications for the CCCTM certification program while the future of the program is being evaluated. Read the FAQ below for more information.

Suspending CCCTM Applications FAQ

Q1: Why are new CCCTM applications being suspended?

A: In fairness to future applicants, we are suspending applications so that candidates don’t unknowingly apply for a program that is going to be changing. Pursuing a certification is a big decision, and new applicants deserve to make an informed decision.

Q2: Does this mean that the CCCTM certification is going to be discontinued?

A: We are currently putting together a plan for the CCCTM’s path forward. Our goal is to maintain the ability for current certificants to keep renewing their CCCTM certification and at this time, can be done through continuing education hours only.

Q3: Should I continue to use/display my CCCTM credential?

A: Yes, the certification is still active; we are just not accepting new applicants right now.

Q4: Will the CCCTM continue to be recognized by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC)?

A: As far as we can see, yes. Learn more about ABSNC here:
www.absnc.org/accredited-certification-programs

Q5: What if I have already applied and I am waiting to take the CCCTM exam, can I still take this exam?

A: You can still take your exam and earn the CCCTM certification. The suspension of applications simply means we are not currently accepting new applicants. If you wish to wait and see what happens with this certification program, you can be refunded all the fees you’ve paid thus far. For refund inquiries, email msncb@msncb.org with the subject line: CCCTM Refund.

Q6: When is the last opportunity for me to take (or retake) the CCCTM exam?

A: If you have already applied to take the exam, you have 90 days to take the exam from the time your permit is issued.

Q7. Will I be able to apply for a CCCTM extension if I’m unable to sit for the exam during my original 90-day permit window?

A: No. Extensions will no longer be offered for the CCCTM exam.

Q8: I recently took the CCCTM exam, can I get a refund?

A: If you have already taken the exam prior to the suspension notification, you are not eligible for a refund.  We are offering full refunds to those who have recently paid but have not yet taken this exam. For refund inquiries, email msncb@msncb.org with the subject line: CCCTM Refund.

Q9: Is the suspension of new CCCTM applications temporary?

A: We are still determining this.


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General Recertification

How long will it take for my self-reported contact hours to be verified?

Contact hours are manually reviewed and verified.  Allow up to 10 business days for your Tracker to be updated.

What is the Tracker?

The Tracker is your online resource for planning, tracking, and applying for recertification.  It shows your certification information, how close you are to recertifying, and the contact hours counting toward your recertification.

You can also print your certification wallet card and apply for recertification online right from your Tracker.

When do I need to submit my recertification application?

Your recertification application due date is at least 30 days prior to your certification expiration date to avoid a late fee. You are eligible for recertification as early as one year before your expiration date, and up to one year after this time (with a late fee).

Where can I find the recertification application?

When your 90 contact hours have been entered and verified, you’ve entered the required employment information, and you are within the application time frame, the online application, along with the payment screen, can be accessed right from your Tracker.

How far back can I claim contact hours?

You can include any contact hours beginning from January of the year you were initially certified, or from your most recent recertification date.

Does my academic education count for contact hours?

Biopsychosocial academic courses earned towards a baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree program will count towards a maximum of 75 contact hours. You only need to report the courses you are counting. Do not report general education courses. An unofficial copy of a transcript must be submitted via mail, fax, or email in order to be considered.

How do I know if my contact hours are from an approved provider?

When it states that the contact hours must be from an approved provider, it doesn't mean MSNCB must approve each provider. Any organization providing continuing nursing education must seek approval to provide it (to make sure you as a nurse are receiving quality education). There are hundreds of approvers. An organization will always be able to tell you if it has been approved to provide the contact hours. There is also a statement on the certificate you receive stating the organization is an approved provider.

Can contact hours provided by my facility or hospital count?

If your facility/hospital is accredited as an approved provider, you can claim the contact hours.

How do I know if my contact hours are categorized as the specialty/practice or as professional development?

There are several ways to determine if the content of your contact hours are your designated specialty or professional development. If the topic is also covered on the certification exam's blueprint, the activity is acceptable for the specialty/practice. The CMSRN exam's blueprint can serve as a guideline for what is considered med-surg, and the CCCTM exam's blueprint can guide you in what is considered care coordination.

Topics like nursing theory, leadership, research, and hospital administration would be considered professional development. General nursing topics are also considered professional development.

Can I receive credit for the certification review course I completed before taking the exam?

Yes, for your first recertification, provided you took the course the year you certified. For initial recertification, you can claim any contact hours, including additional review courses you attended, beginning from January of the year you were certified.

Do you want copies of my contact hour certificates?

No, we do not initially need copies of your certificates. If your application is selected for audit, copies of your certificates will be requested at that time.

I have more than the required 90 contact hours. Should I submit all of them?

You may list more than the required 90 contact hours, but we recommend submitting no more than 100 contact hours.

Do all contact hours have to be awarded through AMSN or AAACN?

No. Education programs must be presented by an individual, state, or national organization accredited as a provider of continuing education in nursing. Education programs may be in any format including, but not limited to, courses, workshops, and independent study.

AMSN and AAACN are an excellent resources for educational programs through their annual conventions, official publications, and online libraries. These publications offer contact hours through continuing education articles for independent study in each issue.

What if I do not have enough contact hours to recertify by continuing education?

You can still recertify by taking the exam again. Standard exam fees apply.

Do I have to wait until my med-surg certification through ANCC expires to apply for the CMSRN exam through Exam Exemption?

You may apply for exam exemption 30 days prior to the current certification expiration date, or up to one (1) year after the expiration date with a late fee.

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Recertification – Tracker

What is the Tracker?

The Tracker is your online resource for planning, tracking, and applying for recertification.  It shows your certification information, how close you are to recertifying, and the contact hours counting toward your recertification.

You can also print your certification wallet card and apply for recertification online right from your Tracker.

My contact hours aren't verified yet. Why?

Each contact hour activity is reviewed by recertification staff. Review may take up to 10 days.

Activities marked "Pending" indicate that they were reviewed by staff and more information is needed before verification. Academic hours require an unofficial transcript before verification. Preceptor hours require a completed preceptor form before verification. The documents can be faxed, mailed, or emailed. Please address the documents to MSNCB.

Where is the preceptor form?

Preceptor hours require a completed preceptor form before verification.

CMSRN: Download the form
CCCTM: Download the form

I filled out employer information, but it's still saying I need to add more.

Underneath the Provide Employer Info button, missing fields of information are listed in red text. Enter the appropriate information. If all the fields are completed and current, you may need to refresh. Exit the Tracker tool by closing the window, then opening the Tracker tool again. If you are still experiencing difficulties, you can contact us for assistance.

How do I know which activity is being counted?

Entries highlighted in purple are applicable to your current certification period. These contact hour activities have been verified by recertification staff and are within the correct time frame.

How come my category type changed to Professional Development (PROFDEV)?

Recertification staff review and verify each contact hour activity. Activities with topics that cover the broad area of health care and general nursing are categorized as professional development. Staff adjust the category before verifying the activity.

I can't see all my contact hour activities.

Above the Certification Contact Hours Earned list, you can choose how many entries to see per page. You can navigate to more pages from the bottom right corner of the list.

If you haven't found what you're looking for, you can also contact us at msncb@msncb.org or 866-877-2676 for assistance.

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