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What is CCRN Certification?

Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
By SimpleNursing | Published March 9th, 2023
Published March 9th, 2023
Nurse wearing a PPE mask is taking exam for ccrn nursing certification

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  1. What is critical care nursing?
  2. What is a CCRN?
  3. CCRN Certification Requirements

After passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining an RN license, nurses have the option to get their certified acute (or critical) care nurse (CCRN) certification from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). 

The CCRN is a specialized certification for nurses who work in critical care settings.

Official certification is important for critical care nurses as it demonstrates their advanced knowledge and skills in caring for critically ill patients and provides opportunities for career advancement.

What is critical care nursing?

Critical care nursing is a specialty that involves providing care to patients who are critically ill, unstable, or have life-threatening conditions. Critical care nurses work in intensive care units (ICUs), emergency departments, cardiac catheterization labs, and other high-acuity hospital areas.

To become a critical care-specialized nurse, nursing students typically complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

Nursing students can prepare for a critical care nursing career by seeking clinical rotations in critical care units during their nursing education. 

It’s also crucial for nursing students to develop strong critical thinking, assessment, and communication skills.

What is a CCRN?

CCRN certification is a specialized certification that is achieved after passing an exam. Nurses with this certification have demonstrated advanced knowledge and skills in caring for critically ill patients and their families.

The CCRN certification exam assesses a nurse’s knowledge and expertise in caring for critically ill patients, including topics such as hemodynamics, pharmacology, and patient assessment. Nurses who pass the exam are considered to have demonstrated advanced knowledge and skills in critical care nursing.

CCRN Certification Requirements

According to the AACN, the requirements for CCRN certification include:

  • An active, unencumbered RN (or APRN) license in the United States (or its territories).
  • A minimum of 1,750 hours of direct bedside care of acutely/critically ill patients during the previous two years, with at least 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding the exam application. Eligible clinical experience includes work in adult, pediatric, or neonatal critical care units or transport teams.
    • OR a minimum of 2,000 hours in the direct care of acutely or critically ill adult patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application as a practicing RN or APRN in the previous five years.
  • Paying the required fee of $250 for AACN members, and $365 for non-members.

Once candidates meet the eligibility requirements and submit their application and fee, they will be scheduled to take the CCRN certification exam. 

The exam is a computer-based test that includes 150 multiple-choice questions (items) and takes about three hours to complete. 

Candidates who pass the exam earn CCRN certification for three years, after which they must recertify by meeting continuing education and practice hour requirements or retaking the exam.

Take the Next Step Towards Your Career

Before getting your CCRN certification, you have to get your RN license, which is after passing the NCLEX-RN. And with the right supplementary tool, you can cut down on study hours.

SimpleNursing offers the tools you need to easily pass the NCLEX exam, including adaptive exams, question banks, lecture series, and much more.

Ace the exam on your first try.

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Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
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