Every critical care or acute care nurse will not be eligible to earn a CCRN certification. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) has set strict eligibility requirements for a CCRN certification. In some industries, certifications may be earned in lieu of degrees. This is not the case for this particular certification. Only nurses who have extensive experience working with critically ill neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients are eligible for a CCRN certification.
You must meet the following eligibility requirements before you can register to earn a CCRN certification:
- Must hold a current unencumbered license as an APRN or RN in the United States.
Must have spent at least 1,750 hours caring for acutely or critically ill patients for the 2 years prior to submitting your application.
- Must have 875 hours caring for acutely or critically ill patients during the 12 month period prior to submitting your application.
- Must have worked with age-specific patients located in intensive care units, cardiac care units, medical or surgical care units, critical care flight transport, neurosurgical intensive care units, respiratory intensive care units, NICU’s, PICU’s, or trauma units.
Some critical care nurses will not work in a traditional intensive care unit setting. These nurses may be assigned to emergency departments. They are eligible for CCRN certification, but will have to sign an honor statement. An honor statement will attest to the fact that they have completed the required hours and worked with acutely and critically ill patients.
Critical care nurses may care for both adult and pediatric patients. These nurses are eligible to sit for the CCRN Adult Certification Exam and the CCRN Pediatric Certification Exam. However, they must take both exams if they want to claim they are certified to treat adult and pediatric patients. The main reason for this is the majority of a CCRN Certification exam will ask age specific health and clinical questions. You cannot transfer your certification across patient types.
There are certain factors that will automatically make you ineligible for a CCRN Certification. These factors include:
- Felony convictions
- Restrictions placed on your APRN or RN license
- Falsifying work history, especially hours, on your application
- Cheating or violating the rules during the exam
- Failure to respond to an audit request or meet AACN deadlines
You will be notified in writing if you are ineligible for the certification. In some instances, AACN will conduct an investigation and may notify your employer or the State Nursing Board of your actions. Some violations are less serious than others. If that is the case, you will be able to reapply for certification in three years. However, since there is a blemish on your record, do not assume they will accept you the second time around.