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CNA Certification Program

“Certification really gives that extra knowledge that makes a difference in your nursing care.” Read what certified nurses say about the value of their credential.

The application period to write an exam in 2020 reopens on January 9.

Renew your certification now! If you’re ready to renew your certification, go to mycna.ca to log in or create your account on MyCNA (formerly NurseONE). Before doing so, you may want to learn more about the application process or renewal requirements.

What is certification?

CNA certification is a nationally recognized nursing specialty credential for nurses. We offer 22 nursing practice specialties for registered nurses and, in 2019, we introduced our first certification for licensed/registered practical nurses.

To become certified, you must pass a rigorous computer-based exam. There are two exam windows annually (see important dates). Your exam preparation will be unique, depending on what you already know in your specialty. We offer many exam preparation resources, as do many nursing specialty associations.

If you become certified, your credential will be valid for a five-year term. At the end of five years, you can renew by submitting a record of continuous learning hours or rewriting the exam.

New exams in 2019

The first exam in gerontological nursing for licensed/registered practical nurses and the first exam in pediatric nursing for registered nurses is taking place in the November 1-15 exam window. Please note the application period for these and other exams is now closed for 2019. It reopens January 9, 2020.

Licensed/registered practical nurses: CNA membership is now available to you — visit our membership webpage for fees, benefits and instructions on how to join. Members receive a significant discount on their certification application.

Retiring exams in 2019

For a certification exam to be feasible there needs to be enough nurses practising in the specialty. This ensures a minimum number of exam writers annually. At this time, five certification exams – gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia and rehabilitation – are considered no longer sustainable for CNA.

After much consultation with the respective nursing specialty associations, CNA has decided to retire these exams after November 2019. (Watch this video message from CEO Mike Villeneuve.)

Please note:

  • November 2019 is the last opportunity to write an exam to become certified in or renew certification in gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia and rehabilitation (see important dates).

Care to Be the Best

The first certification exam, offered in 1991, was in neuroscience nursing. Today, more than 16,000 nurses are CNA certified (see breakdown by specialty and province/territory).

Certified nurses are…

  • Recognized nationally for their practice excellence and commitment to lifelong learning
  • Valued by employers, because their certification demonstrates specialized knowledge and brings many benefits to organizations
  • Viewed as having enhanced professional credibility

Important dates


2019 Poster [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Initial or renewal by exam

Application window Exam window Results
Spring Exam application period closed May 1 – 15 June
Fall Exam application period closed Nov. 1 – 15 Dec.

Renewal by continuous learning (CL)

Application window
Renewal by CL Jan. 10 – Nov. 1

Please note:

  • After November 2019, RNs certified in gastroenterology, neuroscience, orthopaedic, perianesthesia or rehabilitation will be able to maintain their credential by renewing every five years through continuous learning only. Renewal by exam will no longer be offered.
  • All certifications set to expire in 2019 are valid until December 31, 2019.