• Certifications and Licenses
  • CCRN - Certification in Acute/Critical Care Nursing

    • $245 to $360
    • renews every 3 years

    COURSE FORMAT

    About

    The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation administers board certification for nurses who provide direct care to patients in critical care and acute care settings. Critical Care Registered Nurse certification covers nurses caring for critically or acutely ill adult, pediatric or neonatal patients. CCRN certification validates nursing knowledge within the critical care specialty, with over 95,000 acute and critical care nurses certified in adult, pediatric, or neonatal nursing worldwide.

    Course Format

    CCRN certification is for registered nurses or advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who care for critically and/or acutely ill patients in ICUs, PICUs, NICUs, neuro/neurosurgical ICUs, medical/surgical ICUs, combined ICU/CCUs, cardiac care units, emergency departments, trauma units, critical care transport/flight and nurse anesthesia, among other appropriate units. Three CCRN certifications are available based on patient populations:

    • CCRN (Adult) is a specialty certification for RNs/APRNs providing direct care to critically/acutely ill adult patients.

    • CCRN (Pediatric) is a specialty certification for RNs/APRNs providing direct care to critically/acutely ill pediatric patients.

    • CCRN (Neonatal) is a specialty certification for RNs/APRNs providing direct care to critically/acutely ill neonatal patients.

    Completion Time: The 3-hour CCRN certification exam includes 125 scored items and 25 unscored used for statistical data gathering for future exams.

    Cost: Initial CCRN Adult, Pediatric, or Neonatal certification costs $245 for AACN Members or $360 for Non-members. Retesting or Renewal by Exam costs $170 for AACN Members or $275 for Non-members. Renewal by Synergy CERPs is $150 for AACN Members and $230 for Non-members.

    Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs) are like continuing education units or contact hours. However, using the recognition system allows nurses to count activities that don’t strictly fall into traditional categories for contact hours, such as serving on committees or writing articles. CERPs may be needed for renewal.

    Certification

    Information on Obtaining Critical Care Registered Nurse Certification

    Eligibility requirements for Critical Care Registered Nurse certification in the Adult, Pediatric, or Neonatal category are identical, the only difference is the patient population provided care. Applicants for CCRN certification must have a current, unencumbered RN or APRN license and fulfill clinical practice hour requirements that include either:

    • Completing 1,750 hours of RN or APRN practice in the direct care of critically/acutely ill adult/pediatric/neonatal patients during the past two years with half those hours in the most recent year OR

    • Practicing as an RN or APRN for at least 5 years and completing at least 2,000 hours in direct care of critically/acutely ill adult/pediatric/neonatal patients with 144 of those hours in the most recent year.

    Practice hours are verified by submitting the name and contact information of a clinical supervisor or colleague who will confirm in writing that the applicant has met the clinical hour requirements if selected for audit.

    The application process includes registering online for computer-based testing at aacn.org/certification or completing a paper application. Online registration must be paid for using a credit card and offers same-day processing. Paper applications must include credit card information or a check or money order to cover the application fee. Processing time takes between 2 and 4 weeks. All applicants receive a confirmation email and schedule their exam online with a PSI Testing Center or via Live Remote Proctoring from the applicant’s computer.

    Information on Renewing Critical Care Registered Nurse Certification

    Critical Care Registered Nurse certification is valid for 3 years. Nurses may renew their CCRN certification either by retaking the appropriate CCRN exam or by meeting the requirements of the Renewal by Synergy CERPs program during the 3-year certification period. During this period, CCRN certified nurses must maintain current, unencumbered licenses and complete 432 hours in the direct care of critically or acutely ill patients with 144 of those hours completed within the most recent year.

    For those choosing renewal by CERPs, they must complete at least 100 CERPs during the 3-year certification period, including:

    • 60 in Category A – Clinical Inquiry and Clinical Judgment

    • 10 in Category B – Advocacy & Moral Agency, Response to Diversity, Caring Practices and Facilitation of Learning

    • 10 in Category C – Collaboration and Systems Thinking

    • 20 in either Category A, B, or C

    Other Resources

    Clinical practice hours eligible for exam use are obtained in facilities based in the U.S. or Canada or facilities deemed comparable to the U.S. standard of critical/acute nursing practice based on Joint Commission International accreditation or Magnet designation. The majority of eligible hours must be spent actively providing direct care to or supervising nurses or nursing students caring for critically/acutely ill adult/pediatric/neonatal patients. 

    Next Steps

    Critical Care Registered Nurse certification is for RNs or APRNs. A logical next step for RNs is to complete higher education and pursue an APRN role, which opens new career opportunities and pays more. Becoming an APRN requires a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from an accredited nursing program. 

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    Frequently asked questions

    Why would nurses want to obtain CCRN certification?

    CCRN certification helps nurses maintain up-to-date knowledge on critical and acute care nursing. It also provides a sense of achievement and professional pride while promoting your advanced knowledge and skills in critical care nursing to your peers and supervisors.

    When and where is the CCRN certification exam offered?

    The Critical Care Registered Nurse certification is offered Monday through Saturday year-round when taken via computer-based testing, which is available at over 300 testing centers across the country.

    How soon after taking the CCRN exam will applicants know whether they passed?

    When taking the exam via computer-based testing, nurses receive their results on-screen immediately after completing the exam with a detailed report sent via email within 24 hours. For those taking a paper test, results are mailed within 6 to 8 weeks of completing the test. Wall certificates are mailed to all successful candidates about 3 to 4 weeks following exam results.

    What happens if a candidate fails the CCRN exam?

    Candidates may sit for the CCRN certification exam up to 4 times in 12 months, with discounted retest fees available until they pass.