Glossary of Terms

​Nonsurgical Pain Management (NSPM) Glossary of Terms and Phrases

To view the NSPM Glossary of Terms as a PDF, click the hyperlink below:



Acute pain

Normal sensation lasting less than 12 weeks.

Active engagement in clinical practice

A self-determined activity which includes regular and ongoing involvement in clinical practice. For purposes of the NSPM subspecialty application, all applicants will be asked to provide a description of what they determine to be active engagement in clinical practice.

Assessed CE

An assessed CE is an activity that promotes enrichment of knowledge and this knowledge is then measured.

Chronic pain

The National Institute of Health defines chronic pain as pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

Competency module

A competency module contains educational material that presents current concepts in a field of practice such as NSPM. It is intended to be part of a certificant’s lifelong learning process which keeps the certificant abreast of contemporary information.

CPC cycle

A CPC cycle is four-years in length.


Clinical Scenario Item(s) (CSI). CSIs are test questions that use clinical scenarios to assess the decision making capabilities of the examinee. The examinee is presented with a base clinical patient scenario and multiple possible actions to manage the patient. Through the course of the examinee’s selections, additional information regarding the patient is provided.

Describe “as part of the CPC requirements”

The CPC program includes assessed CE requirements. Individuals who hold the NSPM-C credential may apply NSPM assessed CE activities to both the CPC program and the NSPM program requirements during the same cycle.

Evidence supporting education activities

​The CPC Applicants will be required to submit evidence of eduaThe CPC Applicants will be required to submit evidence of educational activity in the six curricular content areas. All activities must be prior-approved by an accredited agency (e.g., AANA). Required evidence may include certificate of attendance, activity outline/agenda, and course objectives.

Full recertification

Full recertification status is granted to individuals who meet all recertification criteria for nurse anesthetists. Individuals who hold a provisional, conditional, or conditional/provisional recertification status for nurse anesthetists will not be eligible for the NSPM credential. Similarly, after transition to the CPC program, any individual who is not compliant with all CPC program requirements will not be eligible for NSPM credential.

Immediate prior 4 years

Calculated from the date the NSPM application is submitted.

Neural blockade

Regional injections outside of the central nervous system affecting nerve transmission.

Neuraxial blockade

Injections around the nerves of the central nervous system.


The administration of neural or neuraxial blockade, physiological, pharmacological, and psychological techniques and modalities for the management of acute and chronic pain outside the obstetrical and operating room areas. (This may include the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of multimodal approaches in providing patient care.)

NSPM certificant

An individual who holds the NSPM subspecialty credential.

NSPM expert

A licensed healthcare provider who actively practices in the NSPM subspecialty.


A professional activity unit (PAU) is defined as an activity that results in the enhancement of the anesthetist’s foundational knowledge of nurse anesthesia practice, supports patient safety, or fosters the nurse anesthetist’s understanding of the broader healthcare environment. A PAU is not required to be assessed nor prior approved, as with assessed continuing education.

Practice portfolio​

A collection of material or information put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate an acceptable and active engagement in clinical practice. Required material or information for a NSPM subspecialty portfolio includes three letters of support describing evidence of competence in patient evaluation and findings, NSPM techniques, safe needle placement, and post-care assessment. (The letters of support may be from a professional colleague who has observed the practitioner's NSPM technique and/or outcomes.) The practice portfolio must also provide evidence of active engagement in clinical practice.

Pretest exam item

An exam item that will not be used to determine an examinee’s score.

Prior-approved CE or competency module

All NSPM continuing education (CE) activities and competency modules must be prior-approved by an accredited agency in order to qualify for the NSPM program.

Prior practice requirement qualifying a candidate for initial NSPM certification

At least two years of any type of nurse anesthesia clinical practice is required in order to be eligible to apply for the NSPM subspecialty certification examination.

Professional colleague

A licensed health care provider.

Post-care assessment

Usual and customary follow-up care to evaluate the effectiveness of NSPM subspecialty care.

Safe needle placement

The ability to demonstrate an understanding of anatomy and risks associated with interventional treatments involving injections.

Scored exam item

An examination item that will be used to determine an examinee’s score.

Skill assessment

A controlled evaluation by an NSPM expert to determine the examinee’s understanding of safe and appropriate use of interventional techniques used for NSPM treatment. The skill assessment includes, but is not limited to, demonstrated competence of needle placement in three anatomical approaches (i.e., midline, lateral, peripheral) and in four anatomical regions (i.e., cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral).


A narrow field of study or work within a specialty. NSPM is a narrow field of study or work within the specialty of nurse anesthesia.

Unrestricted licensure

Compliance with all state requirements for current and unrestricted licensure as a registered professional nurse in all states in which the applicant currently holds an active license.



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