AACN offers specialty micro-credentials that support clinical excellence, enhance professional growth and promote patient safety. Micro-credentials are “bite-size” credentials designed to validate a focused subset of knowledge in a specific area of professional practice. Employees and employers alike increasingly view micro-credentials as valuable complements to traditional certification and credentialing.

Earning a micro-credential involves assessment of your specialized knowledge through an exam. A rigorous exam development process ensures the relevance and quality of AACN’s micro-credentials. After successful completion of the associated exam, your micro-credential achievement can be shared with colleagues and employers, and added to resumes, CVs and online professional profiles.

Why Earn a Micro-Credential?

The validation of knowledge gained through micro-credentialing offers benefits for direct care nurses, APRNs, nurse managers, nurse educators, other healthcare professionals and organizations.

Earning a micro-credential demonstrates your expert knowledge to employers, patients and families; builds clinical confidence and a personal sense of achievement; offers professional validation that is easily accessible, affordable and time efficient; and provides recognition and support for career advancement.

For healthcare leaders and organizations, supporting micro-credentialing helps establish a standard of knowledge among your team members, encourages a culture of lifelong learning and patient care excellence, demonstrates your commitment to employees’ professional development, and increases staff job satisfaction and engagement.

What’s the Difference Between AACN Micro-Credentials, Certification and Continuing Education?

Micro-Credential
Certification
Continuing Education
What is it?
Micro-credential
Validates a focused subset of specialized knowledge, skills or competencies
Certification
Validates a comprehensive body of knowledge associated with a specialty practice
Continuing Education
Indicates the completion of a learning activity and may or may not include a learning assessment
Who is this for?
Micro-credential
Healthcare professionals providing an aspect of acute/critical care that requires specialized knowledge to deliver care safely and effectively
Certification
Licensed RNs and APRNs working in acute, progressive or critical care who meet the defined eligibility requirements for a specific certification exam
Continuing Education
Healthcare professionals in a variety of roles
How is it earned?
Micro-credential
By passing a micro-credential exam. Applicants must hold a current, unencumbered U.S. healthcare professional license.
Certification
By passing a certification exam. Candidates must meet specific practice hour and licensing eligibility criteria in order to apply for the exam.
Continuing Education
Completion of the educational activity. May include a post-test or a program evaluation
How is it displayed?
Micro-credential
Added to your resume, CV and/or online profile; not listed after your name in signature lines
Certification
Listed after your name following your degree(s) and RN/APRN license
Continuing Education
Not displayed; tracked for professional development

AACN Micro-Credentials

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Validate your specialty knowledge in the delivery of lifesaving ECMO therapy.

COVID-19 Pulmonary and Ventilator Care

Validate your specialty knowledge in caring for patients on mechanical ventilation.