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CNA Certification Program

“Certification really gives that extra knowledge that makes a difference in your nursing care.” Read what certified nurses say about the value of their credential.

Fall application window — opening delayed until June 27

This is an important notice for those planning to apply to write an exam for initial certification or for renewal: the application window will not open on June 3, 2019, as previously advertised. The application window will be June 27-September 30. Exams will still take place November 1-15.

Why is the application window delayed? CNA is making several improvements and updates to the online system that we use for membership registration and certification applications. We require additional time to ensure the system is running smoothly for members and certification applicants. CNA thanks you for your understanding.

What is certification?

CNA certification is a nationally recognized nursing specialty credential for nurses. We offer 22 nursing practice specialties for registered nurses and, in 2019, we’re pleased to introduce our first certification for licensed/registered practical nurses.

To become certified, you must pass a rigorous computer-based exam. There are two exam windows annually (see important dates). Your exam preparation will be unique, depending on what you already know in your specialty. We offer many exam preparation, as do many nursing specialty associations.

If you become certified, your credential will be valid for a five-year term. At the end of five years, you can renew by submitting a record of continuous learning hours or rewriting the exam.

New exams in 2019

In November, we will offer an exam in gerontological nursing to licensed/registered practical nurses and an exam in pediatric nursing to registered nurses. Apply between June 27-September 30 (new dates) to write an exam in the November 1-15 exam window.

Licensed/registered practical nurses: CNA membership will be available to you on June 27, at the same time the application window opens. Members receive a significant discount on their certification application.

Retiring 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. At this time, five certification exams – gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia and rehabilitation – are considered no longer sustainable for CNA.

After much consultation with the respective nursing specialty associations, CNA has decided to retire these exams after November 2019. (Watch this video message from CEO Mike Villeneuve.)

Please note:

  • November 2019 is the last opportunity to write an exam to become certified in or renew certification in gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia and rehabilitation (see important dates).

Care to Be the Best

The first certification exam, offered in 1991, was in neuroscience nursing. Today, more than 16,000 RNs are CNA certified (see breakdown by specialty and province/territory).

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

Important dates

2019

2019 Poster [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Initial or renewal by exam

Application window Exam window Results
Spring Exam application period closed May 1 – 15 June
Fall
Don’t forget! Fall 2019 is your first chance to write two new exams, but your last chance to write five others.
June 27 – Sept. 30  (new dates) Nov. 1 – 15 Dec.

Renewal by continuous learning (CL)

Application window
Renewal by CL Jan. 10 – Nov. 1
Apply by June 1 to save 10% on your renewal fee

Please note:

  • After November 2019, RNs certified in gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia or rehabilitation will be able to maintain their credential by renewing every five years through continuous learning only. Renewal by exam will no longer be offered.
  • All certifications set to expire in 2019 are valid until December 31, 2019.