CPN Certification

The CPN certification in nursing stands for Certified Pediatric Nurse and attest to the widespread experience and comprehension that goes beyond the knowledge of basic nursing licensure obtained during nursing school.

Qualifying for CPN Certification

Qualifications to sit for the CPN exam include having a current, active, unrestricted license to practice nursing in the United States. In addition, at the time of application, the pediatric nurse must be able to verify1,800 practice hours in the two years before application and those hours must have been accumulated in a US-based facility. Experience hours can be met through direct patient care, clinical research, education, consultation, or administration in peds nursing.

The CPN is a computer-based exam that is given at testing sites located across the country. The CPN also offers a pencil and paper exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, 180 of which are used to calculate the candidate's score. The other twenty questions are test questions that are being validated for possible use on future versions of the CPN exam. The candidate has three and one-half hours in which to complete the exam. After finishing the exam, candidates will be notified of their test results before leaving the testing center. The results will be reported as either pass or fail.


The certification board website has a candidate handbook which can be downloaded free of charge. The handbook details the application and testing process as well as providing study suggestions, a test content outline, and a list of study materials. The CPN candidate should consult the handbook throughout the credentialing process, as well as make use of the study materials to have the best chance possible of passing the exam.

In order to keep their certification current, CPN nurses must engage in continuing education endeavors on an annual basis. There are several options for accomplishing this: the nurse can choose to complete a pediatric self assessment which is mandatory at least once every seven years, a second option is the accumulation of 10 contact hours or 1 academic credit; another option for the nurse is to obtain 5 continuing education hours and 200 clinical practice hours. The nurse is allowed to choose one year of inactivity per seven-year cycle. If more than one year of inactivity accumulates in a seven-year cycle the nurse forfeits her CPN certification and must retake the CPN exam.

The credentialing process is a way of using a predefined set of standards to gauge a nurse's knowledge, skill, and comprehension in a particular area of nursing. Attaining CPN certification testifies to the individual nurse's expertise in the area of pediatric nursing and conveys to peers and the community his/her dedication to quality care.

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Last Updated: 05/11/2014


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