Frequently Asked Questions About CCRN Certification 

ccrn faqs

CCRN certification is a special certification granted by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). CCRN certification is valuable for nurses, as it allows RNs to care for patients in acute care and/or critical care setting.  

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about CCRN certification to help you prepare for the exam and maintain your licensure. 

What does CCRN certification stand for? 

CCRN does not actually stand for “Critical Care Registered Nurse.” It is a certification by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). A Registered Nurse without an active CCRN certification is not permitted to use the CCRN credentials. 

What are the benefits to CCRN certification?

Having CCRN certification allows you to care for acutely ill patients. Many hospitals also offer special incentives for nurses who obtain and maintain CCRN status. 

Who takes the CCRN exam? 

The CCRN exam is for nurses who care for acutely and/or critically ill patients. 

What are the CCRN exam eligibility requirements? 

To be eligible to sit for the CCRN exam, you must have an active license as an RN or APRN in the United States, in addition to one of the following clinical practice requirements:  

  • Option 1: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients during the previous 2 years, with 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application. 
  • Option 2: Practice as an RN or APRN for at least 5 years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application. 

Are the CCRN certification exams accredited? 

The CCRN exams are accredited by the American Board for Specialty Nursing Certifications (ABSNC). 

When is the CCRN exam administered? 

The CCRN exam is offered year-round at testing centers across the U.S. 

How do I register for the CCRN exam? 

You may apply online or through a paper application found in the CCRN Exam Handbook. 

How much does the CCRN exam cost 

  • CCRN Computer-Based Exam (initial exam): AACN Members $250.00 and Nonmembers $365.00 
  • CCRN Retest Exam: AACN Members $170.00 and Nonmembers $275.00 
  • CCRN Renewal Exam: AACN Members $175.00 and Nonmembers $ 280.00 

How do I prepare for the CCRN exam? 

There are numerous study guides and question banks available to help you study for the CCRN

How long is my CCRN certification effective? 

CCRN certification is active for a period of 3 years. The certification period begins the first day of the month when the certification exam is passed and ends 3 years later. For example, April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2025. 

How many questions are on the CCRN exam? 

The 3-hour CCRN exam is a computer-based test consisting of 150 items; 125 items are scored and 25 are used to gather statistical data on item performance for future exams. 

What content is covered on the CCRN exam? 

The CCRN Test Plan provides the following breakdown of content areas on the exam: 

Clinical Judgment 80% 

  • Cardiovascular 17% 
  • Respiratory 15%
  • Endocrine/Hematology/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary 20% 
  • Musculoskeletal/Neurology/Psychosocial 14% 
  • Multisystem 14%  

Professional Caring & Ethical Practice 20% 

  • Advocacy/Moral Agency 
  • Caring Practices 
  • Response to Diversity 
  • Facilitation of Learning 
  • Collaboration 
  • Systems Thinking 
  • Clinical Inquiry 

When do I receive my CCRN test results?  

Those who complete the exam via computer-based testing will receive their results and a score report immediately upon completion of the test.  

If I do not pass the CCRN exam, what can I do? 

Your exam score report will highlight the areas you should focus on to improve your score. If you fail the CCRN exam, you are eligible to retake the exam for a discounted fee up to four times in a 12-month period.  

How do I renew my CCRN certification? 

During the 3-year certification period you must continue to maintain current, unencumbered RN or APRN licensure and complete Renewal by Synergy CERP (Continuing Education Recognition Points) program requirements or pass the CCRN exam.  

In addition, you must also meet the clinical practice requirement of 432 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the 12-month period prior to your scheduled renewal date. The majority of your hours for renewal eligibility (total and in the year prior to renewal) must be focused on critically ill patients. 

Refer to the CCRN Renewal Handbook for more details.  

Can I maintain my CCRN if I leave direct care or retire from nursing? 

If you are no longer eligible for active CCRN status, you may be eligible for CCRN-K renewal, Inactive status, Alumnus status and Retired status. 

Preparing for your CCRN Certification Exam? The BoardVitals Critical Care Nursing question bank contains more than 500 board review practice questions with detailed explanations for both correct and incorrect responses. Sign up for a free trial today. 

Tags: CCRNNursing

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