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Frequently Asked Questions

What does CCRN Mean?
CCRN is a board certification that can be obtained by nurses who care for patients in the acute care and/or critical care settings. CCRN is a registered trademark and does not stand for "Critical Care Registered Nurse" but rather is affirmation of certification that a registered nurse (RN) or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) has met the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) eligibility requirements and has successfully passed the CCRN examination.

CCRN certification is granted by AACN. Registered nurses, who have not successfully obtained CCRN certification or those with CCRN certification that has lapsed or become inactive, are not authorized to use the CCRN credentials.

What is CCRN Certification?
CCRN certification is a board certification granted by AACN Certification Corporation. It validates that a register nurse has achieved a level of knowledge in nursing necessary to care for patients in the acute care and/or critical care setting. CCRN certification denotes that the registered nurse is qualified and component, as well as, has met the rigorous certification requirements set forth by AACN necessary to achieve board certification status.

Why should I obtain a CCRN certification?
Obtaining your CCRN certification allows you to enhance and maintain an up-to-date knowledge base in acute and critical care nursing necessary to provide safe and effective care for acutely ill patients. It confirms that you have achieved a higher level of clinical knowledge and that you are committed to promoting excellence in nursing. In addition, most hospitals, facilities, and organizations offer special incentives for nurses who obtain and maintain board certification status.

How do I prepare for the CCRN?
The adult CCRN review online program, (featured by Laura Gasparis ), is a comprehensive review program designed to thoroughly prepare the RN or APRN working in the acute and/or critical care setting for the adult CCRN certification exam. The training in offered entirely online and may be accessed from any internet-based computer. The learner will have the ability to review course materials at his or hers own paced, anytime, anywhere. In addition, we strongly recommend that our clinicians complete all of the CCRN review practice exam questions and review the test plan in the CCRN Handbook by AACN. The CCRN examination handbook can be found at www.aacn.org/wd/certifications/docs/ccrn-exam-handbook.pdf

What are the current CCRN examination requirements?
Candidates must have an unrestricted/valid RN or APRN license in the United States

Candidates must meet one of the following clinical requirements in order to take the CCRN exam:

    • Option 1: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in direct bedside care of acutely and/or 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 bedside care of acutely and/or critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application.


    • Eligible hours are those spent caring for one patient population (adult, pediatric or neonatal) in alignment with the exam for which you are applying.


    • Hours must be completed in a U.S.-based or Canada-based facility or in a facility determined to be comparable to the U.S. standard of acute/critical care nursing practice, as evidenced by Magnet Status or Joint Commission International accreditation.


Who is eligible to sit for the CCRN certification exam?

The CCRN exam is for nurses who work at the bedside of acutely and/or critically ill patients in areas such as ICUs, CCUs, respiratory ICUs, surgical ICUs, medical/surgical ICUs, cardiac/surgical ICUs, neuro/neurosurgical ICUs, PICUs, NICUs, critical care transport/flight, trauma units, emergency departments and in nurse anesthesia — or in other units as appropriate.

Final determination of eligibility is not based on unit type but on patient acuity, as patient placement varies by facility and bed availability.

When is the CCRN exam offered?
The CCRN exam is offered via computer-based testing year-round, Monday through Saturday, at more than 175 testing centers across the United States.

What are the application fees for the CCRN examination?

  • CCRN Computer-Based Exam (initial exam): AACN Members $225.00 and Nonmembers $330.00
  • CCRN Retest Exam: AACN Members $170.00 and Nonmembers $275.00
  • CCRN Renewal Exam: AACN Members $170.00 and Nonmembers $ 275.00

How do I register for the CCRN exam?

Online Application Process: Same day Processing

You can register for the adult CCRN examination online (for the computer-based test) at www.certcorp.org> Apply Online

Before you start online application process, please have the following information:

  • RN or APRN license number and expiration date
  • Name, address, phone number, and email address of you clinical supervisor or professional colleague (RN or physician) whom can verify your practice eligibility
  • Valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express)

Paper Application Process: Allow 2-3 weeks for Processing
Paper applications are required for candidates applying with a group, for paper and pencil exams, and for testing outside the United States.

Complete the application process in the CCRN exam handbook on pages 41-42 and the honor statement on page 43. Be sure to complete all requested information on application and include application fees in the form of check, money order, or credit card.

We strongly recommend that you thoroughly review the materials outlined in our CCRN online review program and review the CCRN exam handbook set-forth by AACN. The CCRN examination handbook can be found at www.aacn.org/wd/certifications/docs/ccrn-exam-handbook.pdf.

How long is the CCRN Exam?
The CCRN is a 3-hour timed exam, consisting of 150 questions; 125 of the questions are scored and the remaining 25 questions are used to gather statistical data for future exams. The exam questions are based on AACN Synergy's Model for Patient care. For details, please refer to the CCRN exam handbook.

After I take the CCRN exam, how soon will I know if I passed the exam?
Candidates who complete the computer-based exam will receive their results and final score immediately upon test completion. Those who complete the exam via paper and pencil should receive their results by regular mail within three to four weeks after testing.

Once I have successfully passed the CCRN examination, when does my certification expires?
CCRN certification is valid for a period of 3-years and may be renewed every 3 years by retaking the CCRN exam or by meeting the requirements of the renewal by Synergy CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points) program during the 3-year certification period.

What if I don’t pass the CCRN exam on the first attempt, can I re-take the exam?
Yes, candidates who do not pass the CCRN exam are eligible to re-take the exam for a discounted retest fee up to four times in a 12-month period.

How do I renew my CCRN?
You may seek to renew your CCRN certification every 3 years by re-taking/passing the CCRN exam or by Synergy CERPs, or you may choose inactive status.

Eligibility for Renewal:

    • You must have maintained a valid/unrestricted RN or APRN license in the United States. Unrestricted license, meaning that your license was not subjected to formal discipline by any states board of nursing during the 3-year certification renewal period.


    • Completion of 432 hours of direct bedside care of acutely and/or critically ill patients as an RN or APRN within the 3-year certification period, with 144 of those hours being completed in the 12-month period preceding the scheduled renewal date.


  • Eligible hours are those hours spent caring for the patient populations (i.e., adult, pediatric, o neonatal) in which your current certification is held.

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