APRN Overview

Certification for Hospice and Palliative

The National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHPN®) is a competence-based Board comprised of a minimum of seven voting Directors and a maximum of two nonvoting ex officio Directors.  Board members represent a wide variety of geographic areas, practice settings, and educational backgrounds.  The NBCHPN® is responsible for the development and oversight of certification for the specialty of nursing in hospice and palliative care.

How is hospice and palliative nursing practice defined? Hospice and palliative nursing practice is the provision of nursing care for the patient and family, with emphasis on their physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs when experiencing a life-limiting illness and through bereavement. This is accomplished in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team in a setting which provides pain and symptom management, family support and 24-hour nursing availability.

Who is eligible for advanced practice certification?  Applicants must be a Clinical Nurse Speicalist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP), hold a current, active registered nurse license in one the United States, its territories, or the equivalent in Canada. In addition, the applicant for this exam must:

o        Have graduated from a program:

  1. Offered by an accredited institution granting graduate-level academic credit for all of the course work, and

  2.  Which includes both didactic and clinical components.

o        Hold one of the following:

  1. Master’s or higher degree in nursing from an Advanced Practice Palliative Care accredited education program providing both a didactic component and a minimum of 500 hours of supervised practice specifically in palliative care, or

  2. Post-master’s certificate with a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical practice specifically in palliative care, or

  3. Master’s, post-master’s or higher degree in nursing from an advanced practice program (APRN), as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) with 500 hours of post-master’s practice in providing palliative care (direct or indirect) in the year prior to applying to take the examination.

What credential is granted for certification?  Candidates that sit for and pass the APRN certification exam are granted the ACHPN® credential. (Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse)

Why seek certification?  Certification validates an individual nurse’s qualifications and knowledge in the specialized area of hospice and palliative care.  Certification in nursing is highly valued and provides formal recognition of having achieved a standard of knowledge in the specialty.

What content is covered in the exam?  The exam consists of 175 items (questions) distributed across 6 domains of practice for the care of an adult patient and family as shown in the detailed content outline located in the Candidate Handbook.

What is the cost of certification?Persons applying for the certification exam who are current HPNA members PRIOR to applying for the examination are entitled to the HPNA member discounted exam fee as a membership benefit.


Click here for a list of certification fees


How do I apply?  A candidate can apply for the APRN certification exam by mail only.  The exam application and required documentation must be received by the deadline date.  The certification examination for hospice and palliative nurses is offered at approximately 200 AMP test center locations.


The Candidate Handbook and application for the APRN exam is available online by clicking here.


Note:  Advanced Practice Registered Nurses applying for initial certification MUST apply by MAIL using the paper application due to the additional required documentation.  Transcripts MUST accompany the application and be received by the paper application deadline date.


How often must I renew my certification?  Certification is valid for a four-year period.  The Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse certificant (Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist) must submit the  ACHPN® Hospice and Palliative Accrual for Recertification (ACHPN® HPAR) application for renewal of certification.  The  ACHPN® HPAR requires renewal of certification by fulfilling practice hour requirements and by accumulating required points through various professional development activities including completion of the Situational Judgment Exercise (SJE).


If the candidate is unable to meet the practice hour requirements outlined in the  ACHPN® HPAR application, the APRN must renew certification using the  ACHPN® HPAR accumulated points AND sit for the examination.  


 Click here for the current  ACHPN® HPAR application.


More information on certification in hospice and palliative nursing can be obtained by contacting the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses by email at nbchpn@nbchpn.org or by phoning the National Office at 412-787-1057.