For 42 years, nurses working in perioperative areas (pre-operative, intra-operative, post-operative) have been able to demonstrate their mastery of specialized clinical knowledge and skills to both their employers and the patients by obtaining certification as a CNOR, or Certified Perioperative Nurse.

These nurses worked in a variety of surgical settings, including hospitals, outpatient centers, doctor’s offices, and ambulatory surgery centers. They often specialized in providing care during specific types of surgery—dental, cardiac, pediatrics, orthopedic, etc.

And while the nursing knowledge and skill sets necessary for working in these areas were similar, differences in practice between perioperative nurses working in hospitals and those working in ambulatory surgery centers eventually resulted in a demand by ambulatory surgery nurses to have their own certification.

And so, in early 2020, the Certified Ambulatory Surgery Nurse (CNAMB) certification, developed by the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI), was born.

What is the difference between the CNAMB and CNOR?

For many years, perioperative nurses working in ambulatory surgery centers have asked for a certification of their own, one that would set their skill set and expertise apart from those of their perioperative nursing colleagues working in hospitals.

Ambulatory surgery nurses recognized the statistically significant differences in their patient care specialties. In ambulatory centers, there is a far greater focus on screening patients to determine if they are an appropriate candidate for surgery and time spent on discharge planning. These nurses spend less time providing care during surgical emergencies (as a result of heightened screening criteria), when compared to their hospital-based peers.

Perioperative nurse working on a patient in an OR.

The CNAMB, like the CNOR, is a certification designation that confirms that a perioperative nurse possesses the high-quality skills, knowledge, and expertise necessary to provide safe care to patients undergoing surgery.

In other words, it sets them apart as an expert in their field.

However, the CNAMB certification highlights the differences (noted above) between the care and skills necessary for delivering perioperative care at an ambulatory surgery center versus in a hospital setting. The certification tests nursing candidates in these differences, and eliminates testing relating to surgical procedures that would never take place at an ambulatory surgery center, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or emergency-type surgeries.

With the development of the CNAMB, the CNOR, while still the only accredited certification for perioperative registered nurses (RNs), becomes more specific to perioperative nursing practice within the hospital setting.

The CNAMB is slated to go through the accreditation process in the fall of 2021.

Four benefits of the CNAMB certification

Obtaining certification in any area of nursing practice confers benefits to the certified nurse in several ways.

  1. Nurses who obtain specialty certification notice an improvement in their self-confidence and competence in the workplace.
  2. Obtaining specialty certification has been found to improve patient outcomes. This may be due in part to the improvement in self-confidence and competence on the part of the certified nurse, as well as to the additional education and skills obtained by the nurse during the certification process.
  3. Being able to show specialty nursing certification on a resumé improves a nurse’s chances of being hired by an employer. Research shows that employers believe certified nurses possess a greater knowledge base and provide higher quality patient care than uncertified nurses.
  4. Having a specialty nursing certification often results in greater salary potential for the certified nurse. On average, CNOR’s make about 14% more annually than do uncertified perioperative nurses. (The CNAMB certification is too recent to be able to locate data for salary comparison).

What are the steps to obtaining CNAMB?

The CCI spent time listening to the concerns and requests of ambulatory surgery nurses as they began development of the CNAMB certification. Consequently, eligibility for the CNAMB exam differs from that of the CNOR exam.

Perioperative nurses wishing to sit for the CNAMB exam must have the following:

  • Hold a current, unencumbered RN license
  •  Completed 2 years of nursing practice
  •  Obtain 2,400 hours of experience, with 500 of those hours having been completed within an ambulatory surgery center.

In addition, applicants must be currently employed in an ambulatory surgery center.

Applicants are not required to have obtained a BSN. Diploma nurses and ADN nurses (or equivalent) are welcome to apply for the CNAMB exam. However, they are required to complete additional continuing education in order to be eligible to take the exam.

Perioperative nurses who have already obtained a related perioperative certification, such as CNOR, CPAN (Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse), CAPA (Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse), etc., are eligible to sit for the CNAMB if they are currently employed in an ambulatory surgery center.

Once eligibility requirements have been met, the CNAMB candidate should plan to study for at least 3 months, and ideally, longer. The CCI has established four key texts as the primary references for preparing for the CNAMB exam. There is also a study plan available.

In addition, Pocket Prep is pleased to announce they are adding the CNAMB to their test preparation content offerings!

The CNAMB, the ambulatory surgery nursing expert

Now that you’ve learned a little about becoming a CNAMB, determine your eligibility to apply for the CNAMB exam, and then talk to your employer. Many employers are willing to reimburse their perioperative nurses for the cost of the exam – $350, or $395 for two chances for the candidate to pass the exam within a 12-month period should they not pass the first time.

Talk to your perioperative nursing colleagues about taking the CNAMB exam. CCI offers volume discounts to employers who wish to offer certification opportunities to their nurses. You’ve worked hard as a perioperative ambulatory surgery center nurse to get where you are today, so the CNAMB certification is the next step to show the world you’ve earned it.