AAPACN is dedicated to supporting post-acute care nurses provide quality care.


Director of Nursing Services–Certified

Online + PDF 10-course set – Members: $807 |  Non-members: $1,613
Workshop – Members: $794 |  Non-members: $1,000
Continuing Education:
 43.95 CE hours for online; 22.5 CE hours for workshop

Management Knowledge You Need to Lead

With the DNS-CT® (Director of Nursing Services-Certified) credential behind your name, you show that you have the management skills and knowledge needed to master the challenges of being a DNS. Your credential indicates that you are a leader and that you know how to improve quality, communications, and resident care throughout the facility. The DNS-CT credential is perfect for directors of nursing services, nursing home administrators, vice presidents of clinical services, and other post-acute care professionals with management responsibilities. The DNS-CT program was originally developed by AADNS (American Association of Directors of Nursing Services), now part of AAPACN.

Confident nurse leader who has her DNS-CT certification

DNS-CT Certification Requirements

To earn the DNS-CT certification, candidates must:

  • Hold a current RN license
  • Have the equivalent of two years of full-time post-acute care experience, with a minimum of one year of experience either as a DNS or relevant nursing leadership experience
  • Take the DNS-CT courses with exams and pass with a score of 80% or better. Each course provides three attempts to pass a final certification exam with a score of 80% or higher. If you do not pass after three attempts, you must purchase the course again to get an additional three attempts. If you do not pass after six attempts, you are required to wait one year before taking the certification exam again.

The DNS-CT certification is valid for two years. Learn more about the DNS-CT Certification by downloading the Candidate Handbook found in the AAPACN Learner Dashboard.

DNS-CT Courses and Workshops

AAPACN offers 10 courses with exams that must be completed for DNS-CT certification. Courses can be taken as a bundled package or purchased individually. These courses will provide you with a greater understanding of post-acute care with proven strategies. You will learn how to:

  • Excel during surveys using tested best practices
  • Apply a team approach to quality improvement that honors resident preferences and leverages staff skills
  • Protect your residents with risk management plans that adhere to current compliance standards
  • Prevent burnout and minimize facility turnover by promoting communication and participation
  • Comply with human resource regulations, laws, and challenges, no matter the situation
  • Complement your nursing expertise with strong management skills

Courses include:

  • Leadership & Management for the Nurse Leader (CE: 4.92 hours)
  • Risk Management for the Nurse Leader (CE: 6.81 hours)
  • Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement for the Nurse Leader (CE: 2.42 hours)
  • Human Resource Management for the Nurse Leader (CE: 3.72 hours) 
  • Survey Readiness 24/7/365 for the Nurse Leader (CE: 4.18 hours)
  • Survey Management and Enforcement for the Nurse Leader (CE: 3.22 hours)
  • Compliance and Ethics Essentials for the Nurse Leader (CE: 5.57 hours)
  • Essential Business Skills for the Nurse Leader (CE: 5.38 hours)
  • MDS and Medicare Process Essentials for the Nurse Leader (CE: 4.18 hours)
  • Care Management and Surveillance Systems for the Nurse Leader (CE: 3.55 hours)

Visit the AAPACN Learner Dashboard Education FAQs page for more information.

Need help accessing your certificate?

Your certificate will be ready for you on the My Certificates area of your Learner Dashboard once you have fulfilled all of the certification requirements. Be sure that you have registered for (or purchased) the course as well as enrolled in the course, which allows for tracking of your progress. This two-minute video explains how to register, enroll, and find your certificate.