Hello all and welcome to Nurse Code!

Today we discuss the CCRN Certification extensively and summarize how to become a Certified Critical Care Nurse.

We promise that at the end of this read you will understand how to get a CCRN certificate, how to go about your CCRN Exams, the certification review courses involved, get to know some CCRN test dates and testing centers near you, and how important these certifications are to your nursing practice.

In this study guide we covered in-depth:

  • An overview of CCRN Certification
  • What is CCRN certification?
  • CCRN certification requirements
  • What CCRN certification exam is all about

Let’s dig in!

An Overview of CCRN Certification

An Overview of CCRN Certification

Patient care, safety, and healthcare quality have been hot topics for two decades.

Interdisciplinary cooperation, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics are all skills that baccalaureate-prepared Nurses possess.

BSN-prepared nurses have superior patient outcomes, more successful resuscitations, less postoperative mortality, shorter hospital stay, and overall better outcomes.

Earning a Nurse Specialist certification may provide similar benefits.

The emphasis on patient safety aligns with specialty credentials like the CCRN.

CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) is not an abbreviation.

It is a registered service trademark of the AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) Certification Corporation.

The high-stakes critical care environment motivates Nurses to validate their knowledge through the CCRN certification exam.

Critical and Acute Care Registered Nurses (CCRNs) have enhanced specialty training.

CCRNs have the chance to apply their specialized knowledge, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking skills.

Are you a Critical Care Nurse looking to advance your career?

If so, CCRN certification is for you.

This certification enhances your competitive edge, certifies your critical care nursing knowledge, and boosts intra-disciplinary acknowledgment.

What is a CCRN Certification?

What is a CCRN Certification?

CCRN certification is a branded credential awarded by the AACN certifying arm.

Close to 100,000 Registered Nurses are CCRN certified in pediatric, neonatal, or adult nursing around the world.

The CCRN accreditation recognizes Nurses’ expertise in caring for critically ill patients and encourages critical care nursing’s continued excellence.

CCU Nurses are natural leaders and problem solvers.

In order to advance their careers and increase intra-disciplinary acknowledgment of their knowledge, Critical Care Nurses’ certifications are recommended.

There is a certification for every specialization in critical/acute care nursing.

The AACN offers separate certification tests that validate critical/acute nursing expertise.

The available certifications are:

Adult CCRN 

Ideal for Nurse Practitioners who offer direct care to critically ill adult patients.

The Adult CCRN credential is not location-based.

Nurses flaunting this certification may function in trauma units, critical care transport, cardiac care units, or intensive care units.

Pediatric CCRN 

The Pediatric CCRN certification is for Nurses who deliver professional care for critically ill children.

The certification is open to all Pediatric Intensive Care Nurses.

This credential may also be of interest to Nurses who work in cardiac, critical care transport (critical care flight), or trauma.

Neonatal CCRN 

The Neonatal CCRN certification is devised for Nurses who care for critically ill newborns.

This certification does not have specified patient care unit requirements.

This credential may be used in cardiac care, neonatal intensive care, trauma, or critical care transport/flight.

Adult CCRN-K

While not exclusively working at the bedside, Adult CCRN-K certified Nurses can still have an impact on critically ill adult patient care.

CCRN Certification

This certification is sought by supervisors, clinical educators, academic faculty, nursing administrators, and directors.

Pediatric CCRN-K 

To influence the nursing care provided to critically ill pediatric patients in the ICU, Pediatric CCRN-K is developed for Nurses who no longer solely work at the bedside.

This credential may be of interest to supervisors, clinical educators, academic faculty, nursing administrators, or directors.

Neonatal CCRN-K

The Neonatal CCRN-K certification is for Neonatologists who no longer provide direct patient care but still control the nursing care and caring practices given to critically ill pediatric patients.

Those seeking this certification can still carry out critical care nursing practices.

This certification exam is frequently chosen by supervisors, clinical educators, academic faculty, nursing administrators, and directors.

Adult CCRN-E

The Adult CCRN-E certification is for Nurses who deliver audiovisual care to critically ill adults.

This certification is for Nurses who work in a remote or centralized teleICU connected to the bedside via a computer and an audiovisual communication system.

Adult PCCN 

Designed for Advanced Practice Nurses caring for critically ill adult patients in a miscellany of settings.

Intermediaries Nurses, step-downs, direct observation, transitional, and Telemetry Care Nurses may be interested in this certification.

Adult PCCN-K

This certification is specifically for Nurses that have an impact on the care of severely ill adult patients.

However, these Nurses do not work exclusively at the bedside.

The Adult PCCN-K certification may be available to supervisors, clinical educators, academic faculty, nursing administrators, or directors.

Adult CMC

Adult CMC credential is a specialty certification for Licensed Nurses who care for severely ill adult cardiac patients.

There is no detailed patient care unit prerequisite for this certification.

The Adult CMC certification is available to Nurses working in intensive care units in medical centers, electrophysiology units, and cardiac care units.

Adult CSC 

RNs who deliver direct patient care to critically/acutely ill adult patients within two days of cardiac surgery are eligible for Adult CSC.

This certification may be useful in post-anesthesia care departments, cardiovascular surgery, and cardiothoracic surgery.

Adult-Gero ACNPC-AG  

Adult-gerontology patients in acute illness states such as exacerbation of chronic illness, terminal illness, or episodic illness can be cared for by Nurses eligible for the ACNPC-AG certification.

Adult-Gero ACCNS-AG

With the ACCNS-AG, entry-level Clinical Nurse Practitioners can begin providing advanced nursing treatment and care to adult-gerontology patients across the spectrum of healthcare services, from general wellness to critical or acute care.

Young people, the ailing elderly, and older adults make up the adult-gerontology patient population.

ACCNS-P (Pediatric)

To deliver advanced nursing patient care to pediatric patients across the spectrum of healthcare services, from general wellness to acute care, the ACCNS-P is an entry-level council credential for Clinical Nurse Professionals.

ACCNS-N (Neonatal)

In order to provide advanced nursing care to neonatal patients across the continuum of healthcare services, the ACCNS-N is an entry-level council credential for Clinical Nurse Professionals.

CCRN Exam Requirements (Exam Eligibility)

CCRN Exam Requirements (Exam Eligibility)

RN or APRN License

It is necessary to have an unencumbered and current US APRN or RN license.

An unencumbered license contains no conditions or rules that limit the Nurse’s practice in any way and is not currently subject to formal censure by any state board of nursing.

RN or APRN License

This applies to all existing APRN and RN licenses.

Clinical Practice Hours

5-year or 60-month Option: Work as an APRN or RN for at least 60 months, accumulating a minimum of 2,000 hours or 120,000 minutes in direct care of critically/acutely ill patients, with 8,640 of those minutes accrued in the last twelve months before application.

2-year or 24-month Option: Work as an APRN or RN for 1,750 hours or 105,000 minutes in direct care of critically/acutely ill patients during the past twenty-four months, with 52,500 minutes in the most recent twenty-four months preceding application.

Eligible Clinical Practice Hours 

For CCRN eligibility, clinical practice hours must be completed at a facility in the United States, or in an institution that meets the US standard of acute/critical care nursing practice.

working as an educator, manager, APRN, or preceptor, is spent actively giving direct care to critically acutely sick patients or supervising nurses or nursing students at the bedside of critically/acutely ill patients.

The majority of exam preparation time should be spent on critically ill patients.

CCRN Certification Verification 

For verification of eligibility linked to clinical practice hours, the contact information and name of a professional association must be provided.

If you are chosen for an audit, this associate must certify in writing that you have completed the required clinical hours.

Your colleague or Clinical Supervisor (Physician or RN) with whom you work is referred to as a professional associate.

Exam Fees 

$344 for nonmembers and $239 for AACN members.

Critical Care Courses for Nurses

Critical Care Courses for Nurses

The CCRN exams are three-hour computerized exams with 150 multiple-choice questions.

Professional Caring and Ethical Practices and Clinical Judgment are the two key categories in the CCRN test plan.

The CCRN Exam Handbook contains extensive and definitive information on the certification exam’s qualifying requirements.

Breakdown of Test Topics Covered in CCRN 

Professional Caring and Ethical Practices: 20%

  • Systems thinking
  • Advocacy/Moral agency
  • Response to diversity
  • Caring practices
  • Clinical inquiry
  • Collaboration
  • Facilitation of learning

Clinical Judgment: 80%

  • Endocrine/hematology/gastrointestinal/renal/integumentary (20%)
  • Multisystem (14%)
  • Pulmonary (15%)
  • Cardiovascular (17%)
  • Musculoskeletal/neurological/psychosocial (14%)

The Certification Exam Policy Handbook contains details on important information to know on the day of the exam.

Importance of CCRN Certification

Importance of CCRN Certification

The CCRN and other specialty certificates add to bedside nurse empowerment and confidence in decision-making.

Certified Nurses have proved expertise in their field beyond that of entry-level Nurses and are regarded as experts.

To deliver the best patient care, healthcare organizations rely on high-quality nursing care.

Importance of CCRN Certification

Professional validation for bedside Nurses’ knowledge and skills is provided by specialty certification.

Certified Nurses can engage in professional development efforts like the Clinical Ladder Program because of this recognition and their demonstrated dedication to clinical excellence.


Conclusion on Critical Care Nurse

In order to retain and renew the public’s confidence in Nurses as guardians of patient safety, Nurses must receive and maintain certification.

Clinical excellence and a commitment to lifelong learning are demonstrated by Nurses who have earned CCRN certifications in their fields of practice.

Nursing specialization certification is meant to ensure that a Nurse’s competency in a certain specialty is maintained over time.


FAQs on CCRN Certification

How Long Does it Take to Get CCRN Certification?

It takes about 2-3 weeks for the processing to be completed. The AACN will give you a confirmation email and postcard after your application has been approved, and you’ll have a 90-day opportunity to take the exam. You may schedule your exam at one of the PSI/AMP testing locations.

How Long is CCRN Certification Good for?

The CCRN certification is valid for three years or thirty-six months and can be renewed by retaking the exam or satisfying the requirements of the Synergy Renewal by CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points) program during that time.

What Certifications Do ICU Nurses Need?

AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) offers the CCRN (Certification for Adult Critical Care Nurses), which is the most popular certification for ICU Nurses.

Why does Nursing Certification Matter?

Nursing certification is important for a variety of reasons. At its most basic level, certification validates specialist knowledge, enhances professional legitimacy, and demonstrates a greater degree of clinical competence, all of which can lead to higher compensation for Nurses.

How to Renew CCRN Certification?

You can renew your CCRN certification in one of two ways: by earning 100 CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points) or by retaking the exam.


Every Nurse



CCRN Exam Handbook

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