• Certifications
  • CPNP-AC - Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care

    • Cost $395
    • Renews every year


    In Person


    Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner certification (CPNP-AC) validates knowledge and skills of the acute care pediatric nurse practitioners who provide care to children from birth through young adulthood, including well child care and the prevention of chronic conditions or acute illnesses that commonly impact pediatric patients. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offers the CPNP-AC exam, accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

    Eligibility Requirements

    Applicants must hold a current, active, unencumbered RN license issued by any U.S. state, or territory, or Canada. Education requirements include graduating from one of the following: 

    • Current, active, unencumbered RN license issued by a US state, US territory, or Canada

    • Graduation from 

      • an accredited college /university offering a nursing master's or doctoral degree accredited by ACEN or CCNE that included a concentration in pediatric Acute Care as a nurse practitioner or formal dual primary/acute care as an NPa nurse practitioner or a formal dual primary/acute care program

      • a post master's pediatric Acute Care nurse practitioner certificate program from an accredited college or university

    • 500 documented supervised direct patient care hours

    • Comprehensive graduate-level courses in advanced:

      • physiology/pathophysiology

      • health assessment

      • pharmacology 

    For more information about exam eligibility visit the “CPNP-AC Exam Eligibility” page.

    • Completion Time: Candidates have 3 hours to complete the CPNP-AC exam

    • Cost: $395, includes $130 nonrefundable registration fee

    • Retest fee: $280, non-refundable

    Course Format

    Exam Format

    The CPNP-AC certification exam includes 175 multiple-choice questions, including 150 scored and 25 unscored. Candidates have 3 hours to complete it. The scoring is criterion-based, which means passing isn’t based on any predetermined score. However, PNCB uses scaled scores ranging from 200 (0 items correct) to 800 (all items correct) with a scaled score of 400 required for passing across all versions of the exam. Candidates should receive Pass/Fail results by email within 2 to 3 weeks of completing the exam.

    CPNP-AC exam topics include: 

    • Assessment - 30%

    • Diagnosis - 25%

    • Care Management - 40%

    • Professional Roles and Responsibilities - 5% 

    Testing options include in-person testing at Prometric locations or live remote proctoring taken at a place of the candidate’s choice that meets remote testing requirements.

    In Person

    Applicants register for the exam after receiving an email from PNC containing their Approval & Scheduling Notice with their personalized 90-day testing window. Applicants who fail to test during this 90-day window forfeit their fees and must reapply to test. They may register online or by calling Prometric at (800) 998-1942. 

    • Go to “Prometric’s website

    • Click the appropriate option to schedule either an online or an in person exam

    • Select the appropriate program from a drop down menu

    • Be prepared to provide the candidates email, phone number

    • Be prepared to consent to collection and processing of personal data

    Exam Day Instructions

    • Arrive at the testing center 30 minutes before exam time

    • Bring a government-issued ID and test confirmation number from Prometric

    • Store personal items in provided lockers


    Applicants register for the exam after receiving an email from PNCB. They may register online or by calling Prometric at (800) 998-1942.

    • Go to “Prometric’s website

    • In the Message Portal click to expand the message “Exam Approval”

    • Click “Use this Link” and create a profile with Examity

    • Schedule an exam within the testing periods offered


    • Go to “CPM-AC Application

    • Create an account or sign in

    • Click “Exam Applications” & “Name Change Form”

    • Click “CPNP-AC Exam Application”

    • Click “Create New Application”

    • Be prepared to enter information about the candidates demographics, license, education, ADA requirements (upload documentation), and any state board of nursing notifications

    • Complete application

    • Pay application fee

    • Email transcripts to [email protected]

    Candidates receive an email with further directions and a 90-day examination window when they submit their application.


    Annual recertification takes place each year between November 1 and January 31. Initial certification isn’t required until the renewal cycle that begins the subsequent year.

    • Maintain unencumbered licensure throughout the certification period

    • Complete 15 contact hours relevant to CPNP-AC certification

    Although recertification is required annually, CPNP’s have 7 years to complete the following requirements:

    • Complete 15 contact hours of education related to pediatric pharmacology (these may be counted towards yearly requirement)

    • Complete 4 PNCB Pediatric Updates modules (7.5 contact hours each may be used towards yearly requirement)

      • 2 PNCB Acute Care Care Pediatric Updates module

      • 2 PNCB Pediatric Updates module (CPNP’s choice)

    Renewal candidates may find more information in the CPNP-AC Recertification Guide. The guide contains specific instructions concerning the required contact hours and a recommended schedule for obtaining the required PNCB Pediatric Updates modules and pharmacology.

    Cost: Depends on type of contact submitted.

    • 2 Pediatric Updates Modules: $20

    • 1 Pediatric Updates Module plus 7.5 hours of accepted activity: $65

    • 15 contact hours of accepted activity: $105

    Early submissions may receive a $20 discount. Late submissions receive a $100 penalty.

    Continuing Education

    Part of the renewal process requires 15 contact hours of continuing education yearly. All contact hours must be directly related to the CPNP-AC’s certification role and specialty. Every seven years at least 15 contact hours must be related to pediatric pharmacology and 30 must be credits from PNCB Pediatric Updates modules (4 modules). Only two of these modules must be related to acute care.

    Accepted continuing Education Providers include:

    •  Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education

    • American Academy of Family Physicians

    • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

    • American Academy of Pediatrics

    • American Academy of Physician Assistants

    • American Association for Respiratory Care

    • American Association of Critical Care Nurses

    • American Association of Diabetes Educators

    • American Association of Nurse Practitioners

    • American Heart Association

    • American Nurses Credentialing Center

    • American Psychological Association

    • Association for Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

    • Centers for Disease Control

    • Emergency Nurses Association

    • International Association for Continuing Education and Training

    • International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

    • National Association of Neonatal Nurses

    • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

    • National Association of Social Workers

    • National League for Nursing

    • Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education

    • Society of Critical Care Medicine

    • Society of Pediatric Nurses

    • State Boards of Nursing

    • State Nurses Associations

    Other Resources

    The PNCB has resources several available to help applicants prepare for the CPNP-AC certification exam, including: 

    Related Certifications

    • Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) is ideal for the Registered nurse that wants to demonstrate expertise of pediatric nurses beyond basic RN licensure 

    • Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC) is ideal for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that provides primary care 

    • Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) is ideal for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that provides care to patients with developmental, behavioral, or mental health conditions

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    Frequently asked questions

    Is the CPNP-AC certification exam hard?

    The CPNP-AC certification exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions. The scoring is criterion-based, which means passing isn’t based on any predetermined score. In 2021, about 71.2% of 682 candidates passed the exam on their first attempt.

    Who should get the CPNP-AC certification?

    CPNP-AC certification is appropriate for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners who work in the acute care setting.

    Can a Family Nurse Practitioner apply for CPNP-AC certification?

    Yes, a Family Nurse Practitioner can apply for CPNP-AC certification if they can provide documentation of formal academic PNP education, such as a post-master's acute care PNP certificate.

    Do I need a DNP to obtain CPNP-AC certification?

    The educational requirement for CPNP-AC certification is a Master’s degree or higher. You must also be licensed as an advanced practice nurse practitioner.

    How long after applying for CPNP-AC certification will I have to wait before taking my exam?

    Approximately three weeks after PNCB receives all documentation you receive an email with the information needed to schedule your CPNP-AC exam.

    How do I verify to my employer or potential employers that I am CPNP-AC certified?

    Employers may verify your CPNP-AC certification online at PNCB’s Verification page by either signing in or creating an account if they do not already have one.