Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN®)


The Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN®) examination was designed for experienced hospice and palliative advanced practice registered nurses. Applicants must hold a masters, postgraduate, or doctoral degree from an advanced practice nursing program that includes both didactic and clinical components, and hold a current, unrestricted registered nurse license in the United States or Canada. The applicant must be functioning as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) with hospice and palliative advanced nursing practice experience of 500 hours in the most recent 12 months or 1,000 hours in the most recent 24 months.

About Us

The Hospice and Palliative Certification Center is a competence-based Board comprised of a minimum of seven voting directors and a maximum of two non-voting ex officio directors. Board members represent a wide variety of geographic areas, practice settings, and educational backgrounds. HPCC is responsible for the development and oversight of certification for the specialty of nursing in hospice and palliative care.

How is Hospice and Palliative Nursing Practice Defined?

Hospice and palliative nursing practice is the provision of nursing care for the patient and family, with emphasis on their physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs when experiencing a life-limiting illness and through bereavement. This is accomplished in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team in a setting which provides pain and symptom management, family support and 24-hour nursing availability. 

To be eligible for the ACHPN® Examination, an applicant must fulfill the following requirements by the application deadline.

  1. Hold a current, unrestricted active registered nurse license in the United States, its territories or the equivalent in Canada;
  2. Hold a master’s, postgraduate or doctoral degree from an advanced practice nursing program that includes both didactic and clinical components and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) (formerly National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
  3. Is functioning as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) with hospice and palliative advanced nursing practice of 500 hours in the most recent 12 months or 1000 hours in the most recent 24 months prior to applying for the exam.
  4. An official academic record/transcript is required as part of the application process. Transcripts must demonstrate the key elements of APRN preparation which includes completion of the three core courses (advanced physical assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology) as well as a clinical practicum.

Transcripts for APRN applications must be mailed to be received with the paper application by the deadline date. If applying online transcripts must be mailed to be received by the online application deadline date. Any application without transcripts will be considered incomplete and you will not be able to schedule your exam.

Why Seek Certification?

Certification validates an individual’s competence and knowledge in the specialized area of hospice and palliative care.  Certification is highly valued and provides formal recognition of having achieved a standard of knowledge in the specialty of hospice and palliative care.  Research studies confirm the value placed on certification.

What are the Benefits and Advantages of Being Certified?

Certified individuals have achieved formal recognition of their knowledge, experience and confidence.  HPCC certification provides benefits and advantages for continued personal and professional growth.

How Do I Apply?  

A candidate can apply for the certification exam online by clicking the “Start Your Application” button to the right, or by mailing their application to the testing company, PSI/Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP).  APRNs must mail their transcripts to PSI/AMP if they apply online.

The paper exam application can be found in the back of the Candidate Handbook.

What is the Cost of Certification?

Persons applying for the certification exam who are current Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association members PRIOR to applying for the HPCC exam are entitled to the HPNA member discounted exam fee as a membership benefit.  List of Certification Fees and Deadlines

Are There Additional Savings on  Certification Costs?

In addition to the discounted rate mentioned above, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation offers certification scholarships to Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association members for both certification and recertification. You can become an HPNA member at

How is the Test Administered?

All HPCC certification exams are computer based exams and are given at approximately 200 PSI/AMP approved test site locations.

What Content is Covered in the Exam?  

A detailed content outline of the information that may be covered on the exam is provided in the Candidate Handbook.  The exam consists of multiple choice questions along with pretest questions.  The content is formulated from a national survey known as a Role Delineation Study (RDS). The ACHPN® exam has 175 items (questions) with 3½ hours for test completion.

What are Pretest Questions?

The multiple-choice examinations contain items (questions) that do not count toward candidates’ scores, but are being pretested to use as scored items on future versions of the examinations.

How is Pretesting Done?

Pretesting is accomplished by interspersing a small number of new, untried questions throughout the examination so candidates will answer them with the same care they would answer questions to be scored.  Only a small number are included so that additional testing time will not be needed by the candidates.  The pretest questions are not used to compute the candidates’ scores.  The performance of the pretest questions is later evaluated, and questions that perform well may be included as scored questions on a future examination.

Why Use Pretest Questions?

Using the pretesting methodology promotes fairness to all candidates by ensuring examinees that their test scores are the result of sound measurement practices and that the scored questions are reflective of current practice.  Also it is the only way for HPCC to issue immediate scores to candidates.  Developing a test using items that have not been pretested could lead to examinations of different levels of difficulty, which could have cut scores that do not represent an appropriate level of knowledge deserving of certification, which would not be fair to candidates.

What Credential is Granted for Certification?

Candidates who sit for and pass the HPCC exams are granted the credential of ACHPN® (Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse)

Are the HPCC Certification Exams Accredited? 

The ACHPN® exam isaccredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).

How Often Must I Renew My Certification? 

Certification is valid for a period of four years at which time the candidate must renew their certification.

How Do I Renew my Certification?  

Find details about renewal, click the “Recertification” tab on this page.

For more information contact the national office at or call 412-787-1057.

HPCC begins the development of every certification examination with a role delineation study (RDS), also known as a job analysis. The RDS is a research project that is conducted when initially developing a certification program, and then repeated approximately every five years to ensure that a certification exam is based on current practice.

The objective of an RDS is to define a role in terms of the work behaviors necessary for practitioners to safely and effectively perform the role at a specified level of expertise. The RDS is guided by an advisory committee of subject matter experts who are representative and knowledgeable of the role to be studied. The RDS uses a survey method which verifies the major domains of practice and leading to the development of the content outline. The survey is pilot tested and then nationally disseminated to individuals in the hospice and palliative team serving in the role to be studied.

The advisory committee reviews the survey responses and using decision rules, determines the detailed content outline. Next they decide the number of items (test questions) needed within each major domain of practice (ie knowledge area) on the outline to assess a reasonable sample of an examination candidate’s knowledge of the domain.

Items for the examination are then written respective to the test content outline. This chain of evidence is crucial for establishing content validity when building national examination. Every examination form developed and approved by the examination development committee will exactly match the test specifications to help ensure that all candidates have a fair opportunity to demonstrate their level of knowledge of the topics covered on the test content outline.

View the chain of evidence that establishes the content validity for HPCC examinations.

View the Executive Summary of the most recent APRN RDS.

The ACHPN® certificant (Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist) must submit the Hospice and Palliative Accrual for Recertification (HPAR) application for renewal of certification. The ACHPN® HPAR requires fulfilling practice hour requirements, accumulating required points through various professional development activities, and completion of the Situational Judgment Exercise (SJE). Each category varies as to how the points are calculated and how many of the total points can be obtained. Each activity MUST correlate with the test content outline as published in the ACHPN® Candidate Handbook.

The SJE is a required component of the recertification process for all ACHPN®s renewing their credential. It uses a series of case based scenarios to test critical reasoning and clinical application of content beyond the level of the initial certification exam. The SJE provides an in-depth assessment of the approach taken by the ACHPN® to handle the complexity of real life clinical situations. In addition to assessment and treatment decision making, it also tests on ethical and professional topics including team building, communication, public policy and research. For more details, please download the ACHPN® SJE FAQs.

The SJE is available through the PSI/AMP E-Store, and you may need to create a password for the site at no charge to purchase the SJE.  Follow the link to Create a PSI/AMP Login and Password.

After creating your account, please DO NOT follow the email links from PSI/AMP. Follow the link below, enter your HPCC certification number, and submit. Do not log in. Click “Add to Cart” first. 

Click here to purchase SJE.

Online Submission of ACHPN® HPAR via LearningBuilder

ACHPN® HPAR applications for recertification must be submitted online through LearningBuilder software. Online HPAR was developed to be user friendly and to allow candidates to submit their application in a timely fashion with ease and use of modern technology.

Click here for the LearningBuilder Quick Start Guide.

Click here for the ACHPN® HPAR packet.

Reporting Period for HPAR

The reporting period for HPAR points is also known as the ‘accrual period’. The reporting period in which you can earn points for ACHPN® renewal is your certification begin date through the time that you submit your application. The deadline for HPAR submission is 1 year to 8 weeks prior to your certification expiration date for the standard recertification fee. If you collect points and/or submit your application during the extended deadline period (during the 8 weeks prior to your certification expiration date), an additional application fee will be assessed. If you do not submit your HPAR application, your ACHPN® certification will expire on the expiration date. If your certification expires you may be eligible for reactivation of your expired credential. Refer to ACHPN® HPAR instructions.

If you have any questions please contact the national office at 412-787-1057 or via email at

Click here to download the HPAR FAQs.

Click here to view a brief informational slideshow on HPAR.

Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education (L.A.C.E.) delineates a model of the future regulation of APRNs. It was developed through the collaborative work of the APRN Consensus Workgroup and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing APRN Advisory Committee and with extensive input from the APRN stakeholder community.

This model provides a detailed definition of the four APRN roles:

  • certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • certified nurse practitioner (CNP)

It covers in detail key aspects of the requirements of educational curricula which include the three separate comprehensive, graduate level courses of advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment and advanced pharmacology; accreditation of graduate programs by a nursing or nursing-related accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or both; and specific certification eligibility requirements.

Download the Consensus Model (LACE)

Download FAQs for the APRN Regulation Model (LACE)

More information about the Consensus Model can be accessed via the websites of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).


CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has added the Hospice and Palliative Certification Board to the list of recognized national certifying bodies for NPs and CNSs at the advanced practice level, effective November 19, 2007.

For further information please visit the following articles:


Information regarding APRN practice in a state can be accessed through the individual state board of nursing. For a complete listing of the states and contact information refer to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). For information regarding the APRN Consensus Model through NCSBN, click here.

Test site locations for Computer Based Testing (CBT) are determined and available through the testing vendor, PSI/Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP).

For a direct link to the PSI/AMP testing locations page, click PSI/AMP Testing Locations.

NOTE: Locations are the same for all HPCC certification exams.

Candidate Handbook and Application

What you need to know for the Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse® computer based examination.

Download The Handbook!
Start Your Application!


HPCC neither endorses, approves, or sponsors exam preparation courses, guides, or study aids for any of HPCC’s exams offered by any third parties.

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