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What is the Nonsurgical Pain Management (NSPM) subspecialty certification, and how can you become certified? In this article, we will review what the NSPM certification is, what it involves, the initial certification and recertification, as well as benefits of NSPM certification for CRNAs.

What is the Nonsurgical Pain Management Certification?

If your professional practice integrates the many components of nonsurgical pain management care, you are encouraged to consider becoming NSPM-Certified (NSPM-C) to underscore your expertise in this subspecialty area. NBCRNA defines nonsurgical pain management as the management of acute and chronic pain outside the obstetrical and operating room. This would include the administration of neural or neuraxial blockade, physiological techniques, pharmacological modalities, and psychological techniques. This may include the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of approaches to patient care.

The NBCRNA developed the voluntary NSPM subspecialty certification in 2014 for nurse anesthetists who practice NSPM in response to the continual challenges CRNAs face. In 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) abruptly stopped reimbursement for CRNAs who submitted requests for payment using CPT codes related to nonsurgical pain management. The NBCRNA, along with the AANA and COA, successfully appealed this decision and the CMS reinstated that reimbursement. At that time, the NBCRNA made a commitment to developing a certification process associated with pain management to help support the profession in this subspecialty area. The NBCRNA recognizes the importance of this program to the nurse anesthesia profession, to patients and patient safety, and to those who practice in the subspecialty of nonsurgical pain management.

Since the creation of the NSPM certification, there are currently 130 CRNAs who hold the NSPM-C credential. One NSPM-C recipient said, “I believe we owe it to the public to demonstrate that each of us possesses a standard of practice and knowledge in NSPM.” The NBCRNA’s NSPM credential program is accredited by both the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).

Initial Certification

Measuring the knowledge of CRNAs, the NSPM certification requires advanced, subspecialty knowledge beyond that required for the initial nurse anesthesia certification. To be eligible to apply for NSPM certification, you must have current, full certification by the NBCRNA, and meet other specified criteria such as, but not limited to:

  • Two years of nurse anesthesia clinical experience by the time of your NSPM application
  • Unrestricted licensure as an RN and/or APRN, as applicable

Read all the eligibility criteria here.

To become NSPM certified, you will need to take and pass the NSPM exam. This is a four-hour, computer-based test featuring 200 multiple-choice questions*. The exam is typically offered twice per year at test centers across the U.S. The blueprint, or Content Outline, for the exam and current fee can be found on the NBCRNA website. The certification is time-limited and will need to be renewed every eight years. This includes taking an NSPM-specific Core Module and the NSPM examination.

Why you should become NSPM-Certified

The NSPM-C credential is a way for CRNAs to demonstrate to patients and others your continued commitment to excellence in pain management care. By obtaining the NSPM-C credential, you’ll be able to:

  • Distinguish yourself from other pain providers.
  • Demonstrate to your patients, colleagues, and facility your distinctive knowledge and specific skillset in nonsurgical pain management and your commitment to professional development;
  • Validate your NSPM knowledge base, skills, and practice experience in the specialty area.
  • In effect, provide an assurance to the public and other health professionals that by obtaining the NSPM-certification, you have met objective, predetermined qualifications for providing these specific health care services.

*In the final testing window of 2021, the NSPM Exam will be four hours and have 200 multiple-choice questions. After the final testing window of 2021, NSPM Exam will be three hours long and have 150 multiple-choice questions.

Find out about the upcoming application and testing windows for the NSPM exam on the NBCRNA website. If you are already planning to take the NSPM exam, contact NBCRNA at or (855) 285-4658 to have an application activated.

Learn More | NSPM Certification