CMSRN - Certified Medical—Surgical Registered Nurse

  • Cost $267 Regular
  • $394 AMSN Members
  • Renews every 5 years


In Person


The Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse credential (CMSRN) is offered by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) is the certification board for the AMSN. The AMSN is the only specialty nursing organization dedicated to the practice of medical-surgical nursing.

Certification allows med-surg nurses to demonstrate their knowledge as subject matter experts in medical-surgical nursing practice. Med-surg nurses are the largest group of practicing healthcare professionals in the acute care setting.

Course Format

Steps to Certification

  • Verify eligibility

  • Review the Exam Blueprint and Domains of Med-Surg Nursing Practice

  • Complete the Exam Application

    • MSNCB emails applicants an Authorization to Test (ATT) about 2 weeks after application completion or contacts them for additional information

  • Use the ATT link to schedule the exam through the Prometric portal

    • Applicants can also use this portal to reschedule and cancel exams

    • Applicants have 85 days to schedule their exam and 90 days take their exam

    • The 90-day test period begins when the applicant receives verification of their eligibility and a scheduling button appears in their application

    • Exams may be taken in-person at a Prometric testing center or online through Prometric Live Remote Proctoring

  • Bring a government-issued ID to the testing center or to use during the security check-in process

  • Arrive 30 minutes ahead of time if taking the exam at testing center

  • Log-in to the ProProctor application 30 minutes before the start of the exam if taking the exam online

Exam Details

  • The CMSRN certification exam is computer-based, consisting of 150 multiple choice questions, with 125 scored questions and 25 unscored questions

  • Applicants have 3 hours to complete the exam

  • Applicants must answer 95 questions correctly (71%) to pass

  • The CMSRN exam is available to nurses practicing outside the United States

    • International testing fees and eligibility requirements must be met before testing

  •  The CMSRN exam was granted accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC) in January 2009 and was reaccredited in 2018

In Person

Schedule the exam at a Prometric Test Center to take the computer-based test in-person. The CMSRN exam is offered at Prometric testing centers worldwide, with the exam usually offered 1 to 2 times per day, 3 to 4 days per week.


Test at home over the Internet using Live Remote Proctoring. Prometric’s remote-testing platform is called ProProctor. Live proctors and Prometric’s customer service are available 24/7 for applicants to take the CMSRN exam online from home. Proctors assisted in real-time with any problems test takers encounter and to preserve the integrity and security of the exam.

  • Run the System Readiness Check to verify that the computer being used for the exam meets the system requirements.

    • Test takers must have a webcam to show the remote proctor the entire room where the test will be taken, including under and behind the computer and desk or table.

  • Confirm you have the necessary permissions to install software on the computer

    • Testers taking the exam on a work computer should check with their network administrator

  • Read the ProProctor Candidate FAQ to learn about security check-in and the type of room they must take the exam in and other rules.

  • Choose an exam date with at least 5 hours of available free time

    • Actual exam time is only be 3 hours, but the security check-in process can take up to a half an hour and unforeseen internet connections may disrupt and pause the exam process.


Eligibility Requirements

  • CMSRN certification is open to registered nurses with a valid U.S. license

  • RNs must have practiced for a minimum of two years in a medical-surgical setting

  • Obtained at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience within the last three years

MSNCB awards certification to candidates who complete the certification process by meeting the eligibility criteria and either pass the written, multiple choice exam or earn exam exemption with continuing education contact hours.

Costs to Certify

  • Regular application fee: $394

  • AMSN Member fee: $267

Applicants must be a current member of AMSN before they qualify for the discounted rate. Applicants who can't test within their 90-day test period who cancel their exam appointment within six days of this appointment may request an extension, with a non-refundable $79 service fee. Allow 1 to 3 days for processing and receipt of a new 90-day test period. All fees are forfeited if the applicant doesn't test within the new 90-day window.

Facilities may sign up for MSNCB FailSafe Certification Program. Applicants who have been approved by the facility to take the certification exam through this program won't pay any upfront costs.

Application Grants

The AMSN provides a limited number of grants for CMSRN Certification and Recertification to AMSN members through its Scholarships & Awards program. Grants are awarded semi-annually and covers the application fee at the member rate. It awards 12 grants for certification and 12 grants for recertification each year, with six grants awarded in the spring and six grants awarded in the fall.

Spring:  Grant application opens March 1 and closes April 30
Fall: Grant application opens September 1 and closes October 31

Retaking the Exam

Candidates who fail the CMSRN certification exam can apply to retake the exam one week after their last exam date. They must submit a new application and fee with each subsequent attempt. For the first retake only, candidates receive a first-time retake discount of $75 off the application fee. This discount becomes active about 4 weeks after the initial exam date and is valid for 4 months after the exam date. MSNCB notifies candidates by email when their discount becomes active.

After applying to retake the exam, candidates may receive their ATT either the same day or up to 3 days after submitting their application. ATTs are send via email. Candidates have up to 85 days to schedule their exam and 90 days to take their exam.


CMSRN credentials are valid for five years. Nurses can recertify up one year before the expiration of their current certification. They can recertify by providing continuing education hours or retaking the CMSRN exam. To be eligible to recertify nurses must meet all the following criteria:

  • Possess a current RN license or foreign equivalent

  • Possess a current medical-surgical nursing certification

  • Obtained 90 contact hours in approved activities within the last five years

  • Acquired 1,000 practice hours within the previous five years in a medical-surgical setting

Nurses can report contact hours throughout their five-year certification period. All self-reported hours must be manually reviewed and verified to ensure eligibility criteria are met. Allow up to 10 days for MSNCB to complete verification. Once MSNCB confirms eligibility, applicants can apply for recertification from their CMSRN Tracker.

Costs to recertify for those who hold an active status:

  • Recertification by Continuing Education: $303 Regular / $193 AMSN Members

  • Recertification by Exam: $394 Regular / $267 AMSN Members

Applicants must pay an additional $79 non-refundable late fee for applications submitted after the certification expiration date.

Continuing Education

Nurses who take the CMSRN exam don't earn continuing education credits. However, various study resources for the exam may offer CE credit. Resource providers make their own determinations regarding CE credits.

Other Resources

MSNCB and AMSN have produced several study resources for the CMSRN exam. These materials vary in style and cost, with some resources free of charge. Resources include:

  • CMSRN Prep Test: Consists 150 multiple-choice questions based on the CMSRN exam. Receive unlimited access with a 3-month, $65 subscription.

  • Sample Test Questions: Offers several sample questions to show candidates the types of questions to expect on the exam. Free resource.

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Review Course: Includes AMSN’s eLearning Certification Review Course (an interactive review) or AMSN’s Live/Virtual Certification Review Course (an immersive two-day course led by a Subject Matter Expert). Cost: $149 AMSN Members or $199 Non-members.

  • CMSRN Exam Blueprint: Breaks down the sections of the CMSRN certification exam to help applicants focus their study as they prepare for the exam. Free resource.

  • Reference List: List of references used to develop the CMSRN exam. Free resource.

  • Exam Blueprint in effect March 1, 2023

Related Certifications

American Nurses Credentialing Center: Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (MEDSURG-BC)

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Frequently asked questions

How do I study for the exam?

Study preparation is by individual preference of the applicant. Some candidates start preparation once applying for the exam, and others prepare 6 to 12 months in advance. You can visit the AMSN Online Store for test preparation materials.

Do I need a BSN degree to take the exam?

No, you aren't required to have a BSN degree to be eligible to take the CMSRN certification exam.

Can I cancel my exam?

You can't cancel your computer-based testing exam. Application fees won't be returned if you miss your exam date. Applicants using the FailSafe program use up one testing attempt if they miss an appointment. If an emergency prevents you from testing, contact [email protected] and provide supporting documentation for review. MSNCB handles each request on a case-by-case basis. If it accepts your cancelation request, MSNCB may refund your application payment minus the processing fee.

Can the exam be rescheduled?

The computer-based exam can be rescheduled within 90 days free of charge if the candidate reschedules more than 15 days in advance of the scheduled exam. Applicants who reschedule 6 to 15 days before the exam will be charged $25. You can't reschedule the exam within 5 days of the date it's scheduled.

Who do I contact if I don't receive my ATT for my CMSRN exam?

If you don't receive your ATT within 2 weeks after applying to take the CMSRN exam, call MSNCB at 1-866-877-2676 or by email at [email protected].

Can I count contact hours provided by my facility or hospital?

If your facility or hospital is accredited as an approved continuing education provider, you can claim the contact hours.

Do I need to turn in my continuing education certificates when I apply for CMSRN recertification?

No, MSNCB doesn't initially need copies of your certificates. It only requests these certificates if it selects your application for audit. If selected for audit, you must submit copies of your certificates at that time.