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What is the proper way to list titles and credentials after my name?

Monday December 7, 2009
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Dear Donna,

Can you help me with the proper order of titles and credentials? I graduated in 1986 as an RN with a BSN degree. In 2007, I obtained my master's degree in healthcare administration. In 2009, I became a certified director of nursing administration in long-term care, the title being CDON/LTC.

Is it D. Ariola, RN, BSN, MS, CDON/LTC — done in the order of accomplishment, or is there another sequence?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Debbie,

There are several schools of thought on this and no one correct answer. Some nurses use their RN first, then academic degrees and certifications (if applicable) after that — for example, Jane Arnold, RN, MS, CNOR. Those from the academic world use academic credentials first, nursing credentials next, and then certifications — for example, Jane Arnold, MS, RN, CNOR. Either way is correct. The order in which you received them is irrelevant.

Do you need to list your bachelor's degree once you have a master's degree? Generally speaking, the answer is no. However, some nurses, if their undergraduate degree is in nursing and their graduate degree is in a non-nursing major, might use: Jane Arnold, RN, BSN, MA. Personally, I think that is overkill and would suggest using only the highest degree earned.

Nurses have a tendency to get carried away with initials. I do understand that your nursing degree is important, but you can note that on your résumé, not necessarily in your signature or on your business card.

Congratulations and good luck!

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.