What is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse?

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) means a currently licensed Massachusetts Registered Nurse (RN) who has current authorization by the Board to engage in advanced practice nursing activities. APRN practice activities include, but are not limited to: advanced assessment; diagnosis; treatment, referrals, consultations, and other modalities for individuals, groups or communities across the life span for health promotion or health maintenance and for those who are experiencing acute or chronic disease, illness, trauma or other life-altering event in which rehabilitative, and/or palliative interventions are necessary. APRN practice is defined to include only those activities within the APRN’s authorized category, scope of practice competencies, and accepted standards of Advanced Nursing practice.

Do I need to let the Board know that I've completed an APRN program?

Yes. Before you can begin practicing as an APRN, you must obtain the Board's authorization to practice in the role of a Nurse Practitioner (CNP), Nurse Midwife (CNM), Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS), or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).

What are the requirements for Board authorization of APRN practice?

  1. Valid Massachusetts RN licensure in good standing (reciprocal applicants may submit applications for RN licensure and APRN licensure at the same time) ;
  2. Good moral character as required by MGL c. 112, § 74 and as established by Board policy;
  3. Compliance with the following academic requirements:
    • Graduation from an educational program designed to prepare the graduate for practice as an APRN that is approved by a national accrediting organization for academic programs acceptable to the Board; and
    • Successful completion of, at minimum, core content in advanced assessment, advanced pathophysiology and advanced pharmacotherapeutics.*
  4. Current APRN certification granted by a Board recognized certifying organization; and
  5. Payment of the required fees as established by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

Which certifying organizations are recognized by the Board?

For Nurse Practitioners: 

For Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialists: 

For Nurse Midwives: 

For Nurse Anesthetists: 

For Clinical Nurse Specialists: 

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
    • Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist Core Exam (exam retired; renewal only)
    • Home Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (exam retired; renewal only)
    • Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Public\Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN)
    • Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist – Adult
    • Adult - Gerontology Acute Clinical Nurse Specialist (former title)
    • Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist – Pediatric
    • Acute Clinical Nurse Specialist – Pediatric (former title)
    • Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist – Neonatal
    • Acute Clinical Nurse Specialist – Neonatal (former title)

How do I apply for APRN authorization?

Applications for APRN authorization can be obtained from Professional Credential Services (PCS). To avoid delay, follow all instructions and read the listed material. A separate application and authorization is required for each APRN category (CNP, CRNA, CNM, PCNS, CNS) that you seek authorization.

Why do I receive two licenses when I receive authorization to practice as an APRN?

When the Board authorizes you to practice as an APRN, you will receive, in addition to your wallet size RN license, a wallet size document indicating your designation as an APRN in the category for which you are authorized.

My APRN certification is in a specialty different than the job I am working in, is that okay?

The Board authorizes APRN practice by category (CNP, CRNA, CNM, PCNS or CNS), not by specialty. You may practice only in the category that you receive authorization. Pursuant to the regulation at 244 CMR 9.03 (12), licensed nurses must only assume those duties and responsibilities within his or her scope of practice and for which he or she has acquired and maintained necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities. Competency means the application of knowledge and the use of affective, cognitive, and psychomotor skills required for the role of a nurse and for the delivery of safe nursing care in accordance with accepted standards of practice. The Board may request at any time that you provide documentation that clearly demonstrates your competence to provide care for a population within your practice.

My certification has expired. Can I continue to work in the APRN role?

No. An APRN is required to hold current professional advanced practice certification in order to maintain advanced practice authorization and to engage in APRN practice. It is the responsibility of the individual APRN to manage certification renewal requirements in a timely manner. An APRN who allows their certification to lapse is no longer authorized to practice as an APRN and must inform the Board by sending to the Board the Request to make Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Authorization “Expired”. Once the certification is re-issued, you must inform the Board by sending to the Board the Request to Make “Current” Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Authorization. Once the Board verifies your certification as current, you will receive notification that your APRN authorization is current and you may return to practice.

What credentials do I use to indicate my APRN status?

Pursuant to 244 CMR 9.03(44) the nurse will sign his or her name as it appears on his or her license in all records required by federal and state laws and regulations and accepted standards of nursing practice. Specifically, Nurse Practitioner (CNP), Nurse Midwife (CNM), Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) are the accepted credentialed initials for legal documentation. The initials awarded by the APRN certifying organization may be used on business cards, stationary; advertisements and other materials not required by federal and state laws and regulations and accepted standards of nursing practice.

How do I apply for prescriptive authority?

Refer to the information at Prescriptive Practice Guidelines/Prescriptive Authority.

How can I voluntarily remove the APRN authorization from my license?

To voluntarily expire your APRN authorization from your license, you must inform the Board by sending to the Board the Request to make Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Authorization “Expired”. Removal of your APRN authorization does not “expire” your RN license.

How can I voluntarily request that my expired APRN authorization become current?

To voluntarily make your APRN status current after it has been voluntarily expired you must inform the Board by sending to the Board the Request to Make “Current” Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Authorization. The Board will verify your certification. Once you have satisfied the Board’s requirements for APRN authorization, you will receive notification that your APRN authorization is current and you may return to practice.

* Effective until December 31, 2016, when considering initial CNS authorization, the Board will accept current CNS certification granted by a Board-recognized certifying organization as equivalent to and satisfying the educational requirement for successful completion of, at minimum, core content in advanced assessment, advanced pathophysiology and advanced pharmacotherapeutics . For CNS reciprocal applicants, the Board will accept current CNS certification granted by a Board-recognized certifying organization prior to December 31, 2016 as equivalent to 244 CMR 4.05(5)(c)3b. The CNS who is authorized by the Board on the basis of this equivalent competency will be eligible to renew his or her authorization under 244 CMR 4.05(5)(b).

 


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.