Are accreditation, certifying, and licensing bodies providing flexibility given the current situation?
AACN has compiled the following summary of the policies and guidelines that have been issued in response to COVID-19 by the nursing regulatory bodies engaged in accreditation, certification, and licensing. This section will be updated as new information is released.
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) issued a statement on March 12 clarifying positions on didactic coursework, clinical practice experiences, and substantive change notifications: Information Regarding Coronavirus Impact on CCNE Accredited Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs.
Council on Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Programs (COA) – In a statement updated on April 13, the COA clarified that it has not waived or changed the requirement for a minimum of 2,000 clinical hours for CRNA programs; however, the COA has issued a statement that alternative methods using simulation may be substituted for some of the specific case requirements. See the COA Program Expectations Due to COVID.
Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) has issued three Emergency Announcements related to COVID-19 clarifying clinical and education expectations for nursing midwifery programs. In summary, simulation is not considered a clinical experience; however, guidelines regarding evaluation of student competence are provided. The use of telehealth for clinical experiences is affirmed. Guidelines for granting incompletes and the progression of students are also provided.
National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Programs (NTF) - AACN, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF), and 13 other organizations from the NTF issued the Statement Regarding Nurse Practitioner Students and Direct Care Clinical Hours. The statement reaffirms the requirement for at least 500 supervised direct care patient clinical hours as stated in the 2016 National Task Force (NTF) on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs. The statement also clarified that telehealth is considered direct care.
Testing Sites: In general, testing sites used by the certification bodies are currently closed. Prometric, used by a majority of the certifiers, issued a statement saying that they plan on beginning to open sites May 1, 2020; however, the number of sites and available appointments will be limited for an unidentified time period.
In most cases, the certification bodies listed below have extended the examination windows/deadlines for new and recertification candidates. However, for specific organizational policies/plans, please click the organization name for more details.
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) – PSI testing sites are closed until at least May 1, except for a limited number across the country. Temporary extensions to recertify are being granted; however, candidates must register now.
American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Program (AACN CP) – Testing sites in general are closed; however, a limited number of private test centers are open. Extensions to the testing windows are being made for those who have already applied, as well as for those applying after March 2020. Check the site to confirm the length of the extensions, as they may differ for these two categories of candidates. In addition, access to the practice exams have been extended.
American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) – Testing sites are currently closed. Schools are asked to submit the names of students who have completed all requirements and are eligible to graduate this spring so AMCB can send a Letter of Eligibility to the state board if requested by the state. Some states are issuing temporary licenses to allow these new graduates to practice until they can sit for certification.
American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) – In a personal statement dated April 13, ANCC confirmed that testing sites are currently closed; however, ANCC is piloting live, remote proctoring and will be working with their vendor, Prometric, to possibly implement this testing method in the near future.
Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) – In collaboration with Prometric, CNC will be offering live remote proctored testing for the CNL exam during the Spring testing period. All CNL exam date change request fees have been waived through May 30. The Spring testing cycle for the CNL exam has been extended through June 30. The late CNL renewal fee has been waived for those who expired December 31, 2019.
National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) – Regular updates on requirements related to CRNA certification are posted on the NBCRNA website.
National Certification Corporation (NCC) – Testing windows have been extended for those candidates currently registered as well as candidates eligible as of May 1, 2020. However, check the website for specific deadlines and dates of the extensions. Also, a free COVID-19 module with five CEs is available for all healthcare providers.
Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) – Currently, Prometric testing sites used by PNCB are closed through April 30. PNCB is accepting applications, but the review of applications is on hold until further notice.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has issued a series of policy statements as well as summary documents that outline changes in nursing education, certification, and licensure requirements across the country. Some of these documents most relevant to member schools include:
LACE Network Resources
The LACE Network is a communication network that includes organizations that represent the Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education components of APRN regulation. The network was created to provide ongoing, transparent communication among all organizations committed to the implementation of the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation (2008). The LACE organizations have compiled a wide range of resources and information on COVID-19 relative to APRN licensure, accreditation, certification, and education.