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Understanding Health Care Credentials

This list can help you understand some of the most common credentials in health care – the groups of letters after your Children's Mercy team member’s name. Credentials are one indicator of the level of education and expertise that person has achieved. 

Board Certification

Providers who have passed initial certifying examinations in one or more specialties are considered to be board-certified in that specialty. For example, "Board Certified in Pediatric Cardiology."


Doctors who have attended medical school and diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.

Medical Doctor (MD)

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Bachelor of Medicine-Bachelor of Science (MBBS) 

Advanced Practice Providers

Nurses or physician assistants who have additional specialized training in a broad range of health care services. Advanced practice providers often work in partnership with physicians.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), including Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP), including those who specialize in a certain area, such as Primary Care (CPNP-PC), Acute Care (CPNP-AC), and Oncology Nurse (CPON) 

Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) 

Rehabilitation Specialists

Health care professionals provide diagnostic and therapeutic care in areas such as physical therapy, speech and hearing, and occupational therapy. 

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) 

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) 

Doctor of Audiology (AuD) 

Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) 


Pharmacists graduate from pharmacy school with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, which is currently required for them to sit for two board examinations.

Once pharmacists pass these examinations, they are able to become licensed as a Registered Pharmacist (RPh). In the past, pharmacy programs awarded a bachelor's degree in pharmacy instead of the PharmD, and many of these pharmacists continue to practice. 


Dentists must earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree before they can provide dental services.

Graduate Degrees

Professionals who have achieved Master's or Doctorate degrees in one or more specialized fields. 

Master of Arts (MA)  

Master of Business Administration (MBA)  

Master of Health Administration (MHA)

Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA)

Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE)  

Master of Public Health (MPH)  

Master of Science (MS)  

Master of Social Work (MSW) 

Doctor of Education (EdD)  

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)  

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)  

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) 

Professional Distinctions

Providers who have passed intensive exams may be awarded full membership in the professional organization for their specialty. 

Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP) 

Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) 

This list includes many, but not all, of the credentials that Children’s Mercy team members may have earned. If you have questions about your provider’s credentials, feel free to call the appropriate clinic and ask for more information.