Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification

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Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification


The Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification Exam is developed and administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (AANC), a division of the American Nurses Association (ANA). The AANC incorporated in 1991 to develop credentialing programs based upon standards of practice set by the ANA’s Congress for Nursing Practice.[1] The specialty certification has been offered since 2001[2]

Function of the Test

Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Study Guide

The Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification exam is open to actively licensed Registered Nurses (RNs) who wish to become board certified as a specialist in cardiac-vascular nursing. To be eligible to sit for the exam, a candidate must have completed the following:

  • A minimum of 2 years’ full time experience (or equivalent) as an RN,
  • At least 2,000 hours of cardio-vascular clinical nursing within the last 3 years, and
  • Thirty hours of continuing education in cardio-vascular nursing within the last 3 years.[3]

Those who pass the exam are awarded the RN-BC certification, valid for 5 years. The RN-BC designation certifies that an individual has attained the training, experience, knowledge and clinical competency to perform effectively as an RN in specialty cardio-vascular clinical practice.[4] As of 2013, 2,922 practicing cardiac-vascular nurses had been certified through the national exam, with the majority of them in the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern states.[5] While specialty certification is not required for employment in a nursing specialty, it does promote career advancement. According to one survey, nurse managers are more likely to hire certified nurses for specialty roles, and nearly three quarters of institutions provide incentives such as promotions and special recognition for RNs who have achieved certification.[6]

Test Administration

Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Flashcards

Applications are submitted online through the AANC Web site. The exam is given on a rolling schedule throughout the year. The cost to take the exam is $240 for ANA members and $395 for non-members. Members of specialty nursing organizations American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and Society for Vascular Nursing pay $340.[7] Hospitals that participate in ANCC’s Success PaysTM program contract with ANCC to obtain a code which can be used by their employees in lieu of payment when signing up for the exam.[8] Successful applications will receive an “Approval to Test” letter from AANC and are given a 90-day testing window in which to schedule their exam directly with Prometric, an authorized testing vendor with sites in many major cities. A one-time extension may be granted by completing a “Testing Window Re-Assignment Request” form through the AANC Web site once the initial eligibility period has expired. The new testing window must begin no later than 6 months from the last date of the initial testing window. Candidates with disabilities defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must apply for any necessary special accommodations by submitting a signed, dated letter from a qualified health care provider typed on official letterhead describing details of the diagnosis, 3-year medical history, functional limitations and recommendations for special accommodations.[9] Candidates receive their pass/fail results at the testing center once they have completed the exam. Those who fail the exam may retake it after a 60-day waiting period. Subsequent attempts can be scheduled, not to exceed three attempts in any 12-month period. A “retest application” must be submitted with the AANC each time a candidate wishes to retake the exam and must meet any new eligibility requirements that may come into effect between attempts. The retest fee is $270.[10]

Test Format

Sections of the C-VN Test
C-VN Test Subject Areas # Questions  % of Exam
Assessment and Diagnosis 33 22%
Planning, Implementation, and Outcome Evaluation 52 34.67%
Education and Health Promotion 26 17.33%
Professional Role 39 26%
Total 150 100%

Test Environment

Testing for Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification takes place at Prometric Testing Centers. There, each candidate will be expected to arrive at least fifteen minutes early in order to have time to sign in and be seated. For admission, a valid ID is required. Personal belongings such as bags, cell phones, or books are not allowed. The testing center will provide a locker to store all personal belongings in for the duration of the test. [11]

Test Structure

The Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification Examination is made up of 175 questions. Of theses 175, only 150 are scored questions. The rest are unscored, pretest questions. All 175 items have to do with four major domains of practice: Assessment and Diagnosis; Planning, Implementation, and Outcome Evaluation; Education and Health Promotion; and Professional Role. The time allotted to complete the exam is three and a half hours. [12]

Sample Questions

More free Cardiac-Vascular Nursing practice test questions.


There are 175 questions on the exam, 25 of which are test items that are not scored. It is a criterion-referenced exam, meaning that a minimum passing score is set by an expert panel based on required competencies for entry-level cardiac-vascular specialty nurses, and this is used to determine a candidate’s pass-fail status. Scores are scaled by multiplying the raw score (number of questions answered correctly) by a standard factor to yield a scaled score between zero and 500. Scaled scores of 350 and above are considered passing scores. Because only correct answers are counted, there is no penalty for guessing at answers. Exam scores are reported as pass/fail; only those who do not achieve a passing score will receive a breakdown of their performance in each of the exam’s content areas.[13]

Recent/Future Developments

The ANCC performs role delineation (job analysis) studies approximately every 3 years in order to assess trends in specialty competency requirements and maintain currency of certification exam content. In 2013, the “Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Role Delineation Study” was completed and results were used to update the contents of the Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification exam. The most recent updates to the exam were implemented on October 25, 2014.[14] As of February 6, 2015, the exam will be modified by combining the “Planning and Implementation” (33 questions) and “Evaluation” (27 questions) into a single, 52-question “Planning, Implementation and Outcome Evaluation” section. This combined category will carry less weight overall toward the final score, while the “Assessment and Diagnosis” section, increased from 24 to 33 questions, will carry more weight.[15]


  1. ^ Historical Review November 11, 2014
  2. ^ Cardiac/Vascular Nurse Frequently Asked Questions November 11, 2014
  3. ^ Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification Eligibility Criteria November 11, 2014
  4. ^ Cardiac-Vascular Nursing November 11, 2014
  5. ^ Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Role Delineation Study November 11, 2014
  6. ^ Why Certify? The Benefits of Nursing Certification November 11, 2014
  7. ^ Cardiac Vascular Nursing November 11, 2014
  8. ^ Success PaysTM November 11, 2014
  9. ^ Certification: General Testing and Renewal Handbook November 11, 2014
  10. ^ Exam Scoring and Retesting November 11, 2014
  11. ^ Prometric FAQ 17 October 2014
  12. ^ Cardiac Vascular Content 17 October 2014
  13. ^ Certification: General Testing and Renewal Handbook November 11, 2014
  14. ^ 2013 Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Role Delineation Study November 11, 2014
  15. ^ Test Content Outline November 11, 2014

External Links