Statistics & Policies



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The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board wants to keep you well informed about our policies and procedures regarding certification and renewal. From special testing arrangements to audits to appeals, you can find what you need right here.

MSNCB performs a 5% random audit on all certification applications to ensure eligibility requirements are met.

You will be notified by email if your application has been randomly selected.

Your supervisor will be contacted to verify your eligibility.

If you receive notification about the audit, inform your supervisor to expect a letter from the certification board that needs to be completed and returned promptly.

Applicants whose supervisors do not respond to the audit request will not be permitted to take the exam.

Audited applicants who do not respond to audit requests will be denied and all money forfeited.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all requested audit information is sent and that their supervisor has returned the verification.

The content of the CMSRN® certification examination is confidential, and applicant understands and agrees that the exam, questions, answers and any associated materials (the “Confidential Content”) are protected by trademark and copyright laws of the United States.

This prevents applicant from disclosing, publishing, reproducing, summarizing, paraphrasing, or transmitting this Confidential Content in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, verbal or written, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without consent, except as may be required by law.

Applicant agrees to adhere to this Confidentiality Agreement, Exam Guidelines, and the MSNCB policy 413 and agrees that a breach of this Agreement may cause irreparable harm to MSNCB and undermines the integrity and security of the Program.

Applicant understands that any breach may result in MSNCB denying certification or revoking certification of applicant,   banning applicant from future certification and participation in the Program, and/or any other legal action as warranted.

To ensure the security of the examination, the test materials are confidential and will not be released to any person, employer or agency.

All application information is considered confidential and is not shared with any outside party. It is used only by MSNCB and Prometric for certification processing purposes.

Information concerning any candidate for certification is released only upon the written request of the certification applicant.

Enrolled MSNCB FailSafe Certification Program candidates, by nature of participating in their facility's program, grants the right to their employer to receive a Pass/Fail or No Show outcome.

Denial, Suspension or Revocation of Certification

The occurrence of any of the following actions will result in the denial, suspension, or revocation of your certification:

  1. Failure to meet certification or certification renewal criteria.
  2. Any restrictions to professional RN license, such as revocation, suspension, probation, or other sanctions by a nursing authority.
  3. Failure to pay any appropriate and required fees.
  4. Failure to supply requested material by deadline.
  5. Falsification of information on the MSNCB examination/certification renewal applications or supporting   documentation.
  6. Cheating on the certification examination.
  7. Misrepresentation of certification status.

A letter of notification will be sent to the certificant/candidate by traceable, secure mail (i.e. UPS or FedEx) and a copy of the letter retained in their file.

Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) Certification is awarded to those who successfully complete the certification process by meeting the eligibility criteria and have either passed a written, multiple choice exam or who have earned their certification through exam exemption with continuing education contact hours.

Certification as a CMSRN is valid for a period of five years.

Credentials may be used in all correspondence or professional activities. Recertification of CMSRN credentials is available by continuing education or by exam.

Certified nurses will begin to receive recertification notices approximately one (1) year before their certification expiration. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the expiration date to avoid a late fee. It is the certificant's professional responsibility to be aware of their certification expiration date.

Exam exemption applications must be submitted to MSNCB 30 days prior to your current certification expiration date to avoid a late fee.

If your ANCC certification expired, you are eligible to apply for exam exemption up to one year after.

You need to submit your application at least 30 days prior to the end of your grace period. There are no exceptions or extensions to the grace period. After this period, certification through MSNCB must be obtained by examination.

To apply for inactive status, the certified nurse must complete an online inactive status application minus the contact hour documentation pages and submit a letter of explanation for the request.

The application for inactive status must be submitted ninety (90) days before the expiration of the current certification.

If approved, inactive status will be granted for only one three (3) year period. During this time, the credential cannot be used. Under no circumstance will the inactive period be extended beyond three (3) years.

In order to reactivate certification before or at the end of the three (3)-year inactive period, the nurse must apply for renewal by continuing education or by examination and meet all current eligibility criteria and pay all appropriate fees.

Criteria for eligibility must be accrued within the appropriate years immediately preceding reactivation.

If approved, the new certification period will be effective for five (5) years from time of reactivation.

MSNCB shall not discriminate against any certification candidate on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. MSNCB shall not publish materials with discriminatory content, graphics or language that may be offensive to population subgroups.

MSNCB performs a 10% random audit on all recertification applications to ensure all eligibility requirements are met.

Candidates selected for random audit will be notified by email requesting copies of contact hour certificates, a supervisor verification letter, and any additional information within 30 days.

Failure to provide this information by the deadline date will delay your recertification and could result in the denial of your recertification application.

Retain all contact hour certificates in your personal files in the event of an audit.

MSNCB retain electronic records of all candidates and certificants for at least five (5) years.

It is the professional responsibility of the candidate/certificant to notify MSNCB of any change in name, address, phone, and email either before testing or during the 5-year certification period.

If assistance is needed, please contact MSNCB:
MSNCB National Office
PO Box 56
Pitman, NJ 08071-0056
Phone: 866-877-2676
Fax: 856-589-7463

A candidate who has been denied based on eligibility, or had their certification suspended or revoked has the right of appeal.

This appeal request must be submitted in writing to the President of the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board within thirty (30) days of notification of their denial, suspension, or revocation or the right to appeal shall be considered forfeited.

The appeal request should state the specific reasons for the appeal and adequate documentation should be provided to support the appeal.

At the candidate's request and expense, MSNCB shall appoint an Appeals Task Force of fellow certified nurses who will review blinded copies of materials sent by the applicant/certificant for review. The final decision of the Appeals Task Force will be communicated in writing by the Chair to the candidate and to MSNCB within one month of the start of the review process.

All decisions of the Appeals Task Force will be final.

Current MSNCB certified nurses who have retired within the five (5) years of their current certification may apply for Retired Status.

To apply, the certified nurse must complete the online retired status application and upload a letter of explanation for the request.

The application for retired status must be submitted ninety (90) days before the expiration of the current certification. If approved, retired designation is renewable every 5 years.

The designation as written below may be used on a resume or below the name and credentials on a business card but may NOT be used after a signature or on a name badge.

  • Certified medical-surgical nurses who held the CMSRN certification and subsequently retired may receive “CMSRN-Retired” designation.

If a Retired Status nurse re-enters the workforce within three (3) years from the date of retirement status and wishes to reinstate the full CMSRN credential, the nurse may apply for renewal by continuing education, meet all current eligibility criteria, and pay all appropriate fees.

Criteria for eligibility must be accrued within the 5 years immediately preceding reactivation.

If approved, the new certification period will be effective for five (5) years from time of reactivation.

If the Retired Status nurse re-enters the workforce after three (3) years from the date of retirement status and wishes to reinstate the full CMSRN credential, the nurse must regain the credential through the examination process, meeting all examination eligibility and paying all appropriate fees, and achieving a passing score on the examination. The new certification period will be effective for five (5) years from the exam month.

A standard score of 95, or approximately 71% correct, is required to pass the CMSRN exam.

A total score and subscores in the major test areas is provided for candidates who pass or fail the exam.

Subscores on each of the test areas can be used to assist in further study for those who choose to retake the exam.

A candidate's pass/fail decision on the test is based on the passing score determined by a modified Angoff procedure, rather than by comparing a candidate's performance to other candidates who took the examination.

To determine the passing score, the Angoff procedure is performed by the Test Development Committee in collaboration with psychometric consultants from MSNCB's testing service using a criterion-referenced methodology. The criterion is what a minimally competent, certified nurse needs to know.

Scores are reported as scaled scores.

In a scaled score, the number of questions answered correctly, called the raw score, is converted to a scaled score, which is referred to as a standard score on the score report.

The conversion is similar to converting a weight from pounds to kilograms; that is, the weight is the same, but the scales differ.

Raw scores are converted to scaled scores so that scores can be directly compared from year to year and from test to test.

MSNCB will make special arrangements to accommodate candidates with disabilities protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that interfere with test taking. To request special arrangements, complete and submit the exam application and then contact MSNCB with documentation of the disability. Submit questions or documentation regarding your disability to MSNCB via email.

Please allow a few weeks to accommodate special arrangements. Every effort will be made to accommodate your disability.

Applicants who cannot test on a Saturday may schedule their exam on another day of the week.

Please visit the Help Center with any questions you may have about Certification.

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