Goals of the Program
As is the case with subspecialty certifications in other medical specialties, the decision by the NBCRNA to develop a subspecialty certification for CRNAs specializing in nonsurgical pain management (NSPM) is a means to establish a standard for which providers’ knowledge base and practice experience in the specialty area can be validated.  As the delivery of healthcare becomes increasingly complex and specialized, it is important to ensure, on behalf of the public, that those performing specialized procedures possess a level of knowledge and experience which support safe practice. Certification is in effect an assurance to the public and other health professionals that certified individuals have met objective, predetermined qualifications for providing health care services. 


Subspecialty Certification in Medicine
Subspecialty certification processes have been created for nursing professionals, physicians, and allied health professionals.  Since 1976, for example, the Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) designation has been used by Registered Nurses who provide care for the acute and/or critically ill patients in intensive care units. Patients have become more informed consumers of medical services, increasingly recognizing the significance and importance of specialty certification for nurses. The CCRN certification, developed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), was created to assure patients, their families, and other members of the team of healthcare professionals that the critical care nurses who provide that care have met a set of certification criteria.

Subspecialty certifications have been created in some of the 24 medical specialty member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Like the NBCRNA, which oversees certification and recertification for nurse anesthetists, the ABMS oversees the certification of physician specialists in the United States. The ABMS is responsible for ensuring the standards for certification and for recertification, known as Maintenance of Certification (MOC), bringing focus and rigor to issues involving specialization and certification in medicine, and help protect patient safety.


Development Process
Work on the NSPM certification began in early 2013, when NBCRNA President Vacchiano appointed a committee made up of 3 Board Directors to study the concept of a subspecialty certification in NSPM. Subsequently, the committee identified a voluntary task force of CRNA experts who provided input on the proposed eligibility criteria, test development process, and implementation timeline.

As part of their duties, the NSPM committee and NBCRNA Board Members solicited input on the draft requirements and eligibility criteria from the CRNA community, the COA and AANA, through formalized surveys, webinars, and during an open session of the 2013 AANA Annual meeting. Additionally, another professional practice analysis was performed in the summer of 2014, which gathered the most current information specific to CRNAs practicing in this arena.

The committee and task force then
integrated the feedback obtained from stakeholders into the initial recommendations for certification, recertification, and NSPM certification examination content outline. After their recommendations were reviewed and approved by the NBCRNA Board of Directors in September 2013 and January 2014, the task force worked on finalizing the criteria for the NSPM certification.

The process of developing the NSPM certification was finalized in December 2014 and three test dates for the NSPM Examination were set for January, March, and October 2015.​