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FNP-C vs FNP-BC | Differences & How to Choose

There are two certification options for family nurse practitioners (FNPs) – FNP-C and FNP-BC. The main difference between these credentials is the certification board. 

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards the FNP-BC certification, while the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) awards the FNP-C certification. Some of the other differences between the two are:

  • The ANCC’s FNPBC certification exam has 175 questions, and the AANP (FNP-C) is 150 questions.  
  • FNPBC has an emphasis on policy, advanced research, and nursing theory.
  • FNP-C focuses more on the clinical aspect, including assessment, diagnosis, plan, and evaluation. 

Upon graduation, family nurse practitioner students are awarded the credentials of FNP. But before being allowed to practice, FNPs MUST be certified. Depending on the state nursing board, certification must come from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Choosing between FNPBC and FNP-C credentials is a personal decision based on your career goals. For example, the FNP-BC has more questions on professional issues like healthcare policy and ethics. So, if you wish to enter academia, this may be your preferred certification.

On the other hand, FNP-C focuses on clinical skills like patient assessment, treatment planning, and diagnosis across the lifespan. So, you might prefer the FNP-C certification if you want to work in a clinical environment.

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FNP-BC means Family Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers FNP-BC certification to eligible family nurse practitioners. In addition to meeting FNPBC eligibility requirements, you must pass a competency-based exam to earn this FNP certification.

FNP-BC Cost

  • Non-member- $395
  • American Nurses Association member- $295
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners member- $340
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners student member- $290

FNP-BC Eligibility Requirements

  • Hold a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or hold a professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country
  • Be a graduate of an accredited master’s, post-graduate, or doctoral family nurse practitioner program
  • Schools must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • A minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours must be included in the family nurse practitioner program

FNP-BC Renewal Requirements

  • Recertify every five years
  • Must meet all recertification eligibility requirements within the 5-year time limit
  • Hold current and active RN licensure (or the legally-recognized professional equivalent from another country)
  • Complete 75 continuing education hours (CH); 25 CH must be in pharmacology
  • Complete 1 ANCC certification renewal category in its entirety
  • Pay renewal fee

Learn more details about FNP-BC renewal in there ANCC’s Renewal Requirements Handbook. There, you’ll find more specific information on CH and the renewal guidelines for expired FNP-BC credentials. 

>> Explore Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Review Materials*

FNP-C is a medical abbreviation for the Family Nurse Practitioner Certified credential offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). To earn FNPC certification, nurse practitioners must meet all eligibility requirements and pass a competency-based exam.

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FNP-C Cost

  • AANP Members $240
  • Non-Members $315

FNP-C Eligibility Requirements

  • Hold a current, valid U.S. or Canadian RN license
  • Be a graduate of an accredited master’s, post-graduate, or doctoral nurse practitioner program
  • Schools must be accredited by an independent national nursing organization recognized by
  • the U.S. Department of Education, such as the CCNE or ACEN
  • Successful completion of the APRN core courses (advanced physical assessment, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology
  • Complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours

FNP-C Renewal Requirements

  • Recertify every five years
  • Must meet all recertification eligibility requirements within the 5-year time limit
  • FNP-C Renewal Option One | Continuing Education (CE):
    • Complete 1,000 practice hours in a direct patient care, educator, researcher, and/or administrative role
    • Complete 100 advanced CE contact hours that must include 25 advanced pharmacology CE credit hours
    • Hold a current RN or APRN license
  • FNP-C Renewal Option Two | Examination:
    • Take the FNP National Certification Examination
    • Hold a current RN license

Review the AANP’s FNPC Renewal Guidelines for more specific renewal details.

The most important reason you should get an FNPBC or FNP-C certification is so you can legally practice as a family nurse practitioner. But you should also want certifications to indicate that you have met specific educational requirements and maintain continued professional competence. 

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development–while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 



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