Certification Comparison

Which certification is right for me?

There are two certification exams offered in the specialty of medical-surgical nursing. The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) provides this table of comparisons between the two certification programs to help you make an informed choice of which one is right for you.

Download this table as a PDF

Certification Comparison
  CMSRN RN-BC
Credential Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC)
Certifying Body Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB)
msncb.org

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
nursecredentialing.org

Endorsement from Specialty Nursing Organization Yes, by AMSN (Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses) No
Accreditation by ABSNC (Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification) Yes Yes
Accepted by ANCC for Magnet Recognition Status Yes Yes
Certification Duration 5 years 5 years
Certification Eligibility Criteria
  CMSRN RN-BC
Practice as an RN 2 Years 2 Years
Type of Practice Clinical, management, or education Clinical
Practice Hours in Past 3 Years 2,000 Hours 2,000 Hours
Contact Hours None 30 CH/3 Years
Certification Exam
  CMSRN RN-BC
# of Questions 150 (+25 trial questions on PP) 175
Testing Options

Computer-Based Testing (CBT)
or Paper & Pencil (PP)

Computer-Based Testing only
Based on Practice Analysis Yes Yes
Special Test Site at Your Facility Yes, $300 per site No
Certification Pricing and Discounts
  CMSRN RN-BC
Application Fees $375 $395
Member Fees $255 AMSN Member* $270 ANA Member
Facility Registration Program Yes, FailSafe Certification Program™ which does not charge hospitals for unsuccessful candidates Yes
Recertification Options
  CMSRN RN-BC
By Contact Hours Yes Yes
By Exam Yes Partially
By Exam Exemption Yes No
Recertification Eligibility Criteria
  CMSRN RN-BC
Current Certification in Medical-Surgical Nursing Yes Yes
Type of Practice Clinical, management, or education Clinical or direct clinical supervision only
Practice Hours in 5 Years 1,000 1,000
Contact Hours in 5 Years 90 CH (including academic courses, presentations, publications, preceptorship, research) Mandatory 75 CH
+ 1 or more of 8 renewal categories
Recertification Pricing and Discounts
  CMSRN RN-BC
Recertification Fee $275 $350
Member Fee $175 AMSN Member* $250 ANA Member
Examination Prep Resources
  CMSRN RN-BC
Sample Questions Yes Yes
Online Practice Exam Yes, from MSNCB Yes, through Credentialing Knowledge Center
Publications/Online Yes, many through AMSN Yes
2 Day Certification Review Course at your Facility

Yes, through AMSN
$6,000

$5,000 for FailSafe Facilities

+ faculty hotel expenses
Unlimited Participants

Yes

* AMSN Dues = $85/year