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The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) began sponsoring research grants to scholars investigating the relationship of credentialing in nursing to quality outcomes in health care in 2002. In 2009, the Margretta Madden Styles Credentialing Research Grants program became a part of the Nursing Research Grants program of the American Nurses Foundation.

Credentialing research in nursing is inquiry into the impact of credentialing and credentialing variables (standards and criteria) on healthcare performance and outcomes for nurses, patients, and organizations. Credentialing research provides evidence for credentialing standards and generates knowledge about how the public and the profession benefit from credentialing. Ultimately, the goal of credentialing research is to inform policy at all levels and improve health care.

ANCC offers four credentialing programs, one for individuals and three that credential organizations. The Certification Program provides certification examinations to individual nurses in 29 nursing specialties. For a list of other nursing specialty certifications available, please visit the member list posted on the American Board of Nursing Specialties website.

ANCC's credentialing programs for organizations are the Magnet Recognition Program®, the Pathway to Excellence® Program, and the Accreditation Program for providers and approvers of continuing nursing education. Each program assesses the degree to which an organization meets multiple standards. For example, the Pathway to Excellence Program is based upon 6 practice standards that characterize a positive work environment, and each of those 6 standards contains a set of more specific criteria to define it.

Research priorities for application to The Margretta Madden Styles Credentialing Research Grant include:

  • Focus on credentialing and competency. How does credentialing relate to competency? How do education and experience interact with the effects of certification?
  • Focus on the relationship between credentialing and patient outcomes. Which standards influence which outcomes? What are the critical relationships?
  • Address the gaps in the credentialing research literature. What research is needed to build knowledge in areas that have seldom been studied?

For additional discussion of credentialing research, see the Institute of Medicine report Future Directions of Credentialing Research in Nursing: Workshop Summary (2015) at

For application details, please visit the American Nurses Foundation website.

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