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CMSRN Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to take the CMSRN exam, you must meet all three eligibility criteria at the time of the application.

You are eligible if you:

Hold an unencumbered and current license as a registered nurse (RN) in the United States, its territories, or in Canada.


Have practiced 2 full years as an RN in a medical-surgical setting.


Have accrued a minimum of 2,000 hours of practice within the past three (3) years in a medical-surgical setting. Practice may include clinical, management, or education.

NOTE: A medical-surgical setting is defined as the following by MSNCB and AMSN:

Medical-surgical nursing is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States and beyond. Medical-surgical nurses provide care to adults with a variety of medical issues or who are preparing for/recovering from surgery. They have a broad knowledge base and are experts in their practice. Medical-surgical nurses have advanced organizational, prioritization, assessment and communication skills and are leaders in coordinating care among the interprofessional health care team.   

Medical-surgical nursing is practiced in several settings across the health care industry, including hospitals, outpatient settings, in homes, via telemedicine and other non-traditional settings. The specialty of medical-surgical nursing happens in almost every care environment because medical-surgical nursing is what you practice, not where.

How do I determine if I am eligible to take the CMSRN exam?

To determine if the CMSRN exam is a good fit for you, review the Exam Blueprint, especially the Domains of Practice. The Domains list specific activities that medical-surgical nurses perform. 

If these activities describe your RN practice, then you are eligible to take the CMSRN exam, as long as you meet the practice hours and years of experience.

No person shall be excluded from the opportunity to participate in the MSNCB certification program on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

FailSafe Applicants

Candidates of facilities who participate in the MSNCB FailSafe Certification Program™ will enter their unique facility code instead of credit card information on the payment page of the application. If you are having difficulty entering your FailSafe code, contact us for assistance.

Member Discounts for CMSRN Exam

Members of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN; receive a discounted application fee. Consider joining before applying. (Membership must be current through the exam month to be eligible for application discount.)

Application Checklist

Before beginning your application for the exam, make sure you have:

  • Met all the eligibility criteria (early applications not accepted)
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • RN license number, original license issue date, and current license expiration date
  • Supervisor's name and contact information (phone or e-mail)
  • Credit card information or facility’s FailSafe code. Codes begin with "fs" and are case-sensitive.

You may receive your ATT same day and up to 3 days after submitting your application. It will be sent by email or MSNCB will contact you if more information regarding your application is needed. If you do not receive your ATT within 1 week, contact MSNCB at

CMSRN Exam Guide

This guide includes information about the exam, the application and exam scheduling process, and how to access valuable study resources.

Retaking the CMSRN Exam

Learn more about retaking the exam.

CMSRN Exam Exemption

Nurses who are already certified as a medical-surgical registered nurse may be eligible for CMSRN certification via Exam Exemption. Learn more about Exam Exemption.

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