CPC Examination Overview and FAQs

CPC Examination Structure and Purpose
The CPC Examination will assess knowledge in the 4 core domains of nurse anesthesia practice. The domains and the corresponding weighted percentages on the CPC Examination are as follows: 
1. Airway Management (28%) 
2. Applied Clinical Pharmacology (28%) 
3. Physiology and Pathophysiology (28%) 
​4. Anesthesia Equipment and Technology (16%) 
The First CPC Examination
Nurse anesthetists who are initially certified prior to January 1, 2020
For the first CPC Examination, certificants will need to meet a performance standard. This provides nurse anesthetists with an opportunity to become familiar with the CPC Examination content outline and the electronic examination format.  Not meeting the performance standard in any core domain on the examination will not result in loss of certification. For those areas where the performance standard was not met, the nurse anesthetists will take an additional CPC Core Module.

Individuals who currently hold the CRNA credential will take the CPC Examination one time by 2024 or 2025, depending on an individual’s CPC cycle.

The Second CPC Examination
All nurse anesthetists who currently hold the CRNA credential will need to achieve the passing standard on the first CPC Examination by 2032/2033, depending on an individual’s CPC cycle.


What is the difference between a performance standard and passing standard?
The term performance standard is used in relation to the first CPC Examination to establish expectations that must be met for an examinee’s performance to be appraised as satisfactory.

The NBCRNA uses the term passing standard in relation to the second and future CPC Examinations in order to determine the passing point for the examination.

When will I take the CPC Examination?
Nurse anesthetists will take a CPC Examination every other 4-year cycle; i.e., once every 8-year CPC Period.

Currently certified nurse anesthetists will take the first CPC Examination either in the 2020-2024 or 2021-2025 cycle, depending on the individual’s certification schedule. The first CPC Examination will be measured against a performance standard.

Does the first CPC Examination affect my certification?
No. The score for the first CPC Examination is measured against a performance standard for all currently certified nurse anesthetists as of 2020.

This first attempt is intended to provide feedback on the nurse anesthetist’s relative strengths in different knowledge areas. For any core area in which the performance standard is not met, the anesthetist will take an additional CPC Core Module. This will not result in a loss of certification.

How many times may I take the first CPC Examination?
Once. The first CPC Examination is intended only to provide feedback and point out areas for further study through additional Core Modules. The first CPC Examination should be completed at least 6 months before the end of an individual’s CPC cycle to allow time for completion of any additional CPC Core Module.

What happens if a nurse anesthetist does not meet the performance standard on the first CPC Examination?
In this case, the nurse anesthetist will take one or more additional CPC Core Modules in the same CPC cycle in which the CPC Examination was taken.

What if I decide not to practice or if I retire within a given CPC cycle?
The requirements completed in one certification cycle allow the CRNA to remain certified into the following cycle. If you do not intend to practice beyond the current period in which you are certified, it would not be necessary to meet any of the certification requirements for the next CPC cycle. A nurse anesthetist will only have to complete the first CPC Examination if he or she intends to practice beyond 2024 or 2025.

Where will I take the CPC Examination?
At this time, the NBCRNA plans to deliver the CPC Examinations at a secure testing facility; however, we continue to evaluate alternative options.

What is the cost of the CPC Examination?
We are working with test vendors to develop the costs of the CPC Examination. Our goal is to keep the annualized cost of the CPC Program similar to current recertification costs.

How long is the CPC Examination?
The examination will consist of approximately 150 items. The total time allowed for the examination will be 4 hours.

Can I take the CPC Examination any time during the 4-year cycle?
Yes, you can take the CPC Examination in any year of the second 4-year cycle. The NBCRNA has not yet determined when the CPC Examination will be offered during each year.

Will there be review sessions for the CPC Examination? Will review courses be awarded CEs?
The NBCRNA will make the test blueprint and practice examination tutorials available. In compliance with our accreditation guidelines, NBCRNA will not offer review courses. The AANA CE department or another CE approval body will determine whether review courses offered by vendors meet the criteria for CE.

What happens if I don’t achieve the passing standard on the second CPC Examination by 2032 or 2033?
A nurse anesthetist must pass the CPC Examination by the end of the appropriate certification cycle in order to remain
certified. Nurse anesthetists will be allowed 4 attempts to achieve the passing standard on the CPC Examination prior to their 2032 or 2033 deadline. If a nurse anesthetist does not meet the passing standard, the mechanisms for reentry are outlined under Reentry Program.

If you can't find the answer to your question, contact us at CPC@nbcrna.com or call toll-free (855) 285-4658.


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