Renewing Your CCRN Certification

Once you receive your CCRN certification, you will not be able to stop learning. The AACN organization believes it is important for critical care nurses to stay current on the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities need to competently perform the job. So, a CCRN certification is only valid for 3 years.

Just because you have earned a CCRN certification, does not mean you will automatically be eligible for renewal. You must hold a current unencumbered APRN or RN license from the United States and confirm that restrictions have not been placed on your license. You must also have spent a minimum of 432 hours caring for critically and acutely ill patients during the 3-year period you held the CCRN certification. During the 12 month period leading up to your renewal, you must have spent at least 144 hours caring for these patients. These hours must be spent caring for a specific patient type: adult, neonatal, or pediatric.

The easiest way to begin the renewal process is online. You can start the process 120 days before your certification expires. There are three renewal options to choose from: take the CCRN Certification exam, renew with CERP’s (Continuing Education Recognition Point Programs), or choose inactive status. You can only pick one option. If you choose to retake the exam and fail, you can’t submit your CERP’s. You will have to retake the exam.

  • Retake the CCRN Certification Exam – You have the option of retaking the age specific CCRN exam. Keep in mind, the test will not be the exact same exam you took when you received your initial certification. AACN will modify and update these exams based on the results of their latest practice studies. Remember to take the exam before your certification expires.
  • CERP’s – Many hospitals and/or State Nursing Boards require nurses to take continuing education classes. These classes can be used to renew your certification. You will need to earn 100 CERP’s in three categories: 80 CERP’s from Category A and 10 CERP’s from Category B and Category C. You can take these classes during the three year period you hold a CCRN certification.
    • Category A Topics: Heart failure, pharmacology, clinical research, auditing, IV Therapies, BLS, ACLS, NRP, and a CCRN Self Assessment Exam
    • Category B Topics: HIPPA, ethics, end of life care, legal issues, geriatric care, diversity, cultural differences, reducing medical errors, and the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
    • Category C Topics: Teamwork, communication, improving work environments, risk and case management, leadership, committee work, and emergency planning
  • Inactive Status – You may not meet the eligibility hours requirement. You do not want to lose your CCRN certification, but you need more time to gain the required hours. You will need to pick the inactive status option. Inactive status will give you more time to earn those hours, up to 3 years. However, during your inactive status, you must never represent yourself as CCRN certified. If AACN discovers this, your status will be revoked.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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