AACN News—December 2004—Certification
Vol. 21, No. 12, DECEMBER 2004
New Cardiac Subspecialty Exams to Launch Jan. 18|
AACN Certification Corporation is launching two new nursing subspecialty certifications—the CMC (cardiac medicine certification) and the CSC (cardiac surgery certification). Computer-based testing for both exams begins on Jan. 18.
To celebrate the launches, the first 13 candidates to sit for each exam in four designated regions will receive a $50 gift certificate to the AACN Bookstore. In addition, everyone testing between Jan. 18 and Feb. 28 will be automatically entered into a drawing for free registration to AACN’s National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition, May 7 through 12 in New Orleans, La. Eight complimentary NTI registrations will be awarded.
Following are the regional designations:
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut,
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas
Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota
Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska and Hawaii
Information about eligibility and the CMC or CSC exam application handbooks are available online at
New CCNS Renewal Requirements Approved
CE Options Effective March 1, 2005
Changes in CCNS certification renewal requirements for clinical nurse specialists in acute or critical care were approved by the AACN Certification Board in November. As of March 1, 2005, CCNSs will have the option of renewing by CE (in addition to renewal by exam or vignette). After March 1, 2006, CCNSs must renew only by exam or CE.
The new renewal by CE requirement will be:
• 60 Category A CE per four-year period, with at least 15 in acute and critical care educational programs
• 2,000 clinical hours in the CNS role, with a minimum of 400 hours in the 12 months preceding renewal to involve the care of acutely or critically ill patients
• Current unrestricted RN licensure in the United States or its territories
Eligible educational programs that grant CE must address subjects that have direct application to the needs of acutely or critically ill patients and their families. These programs must have direct application to meeting the needs of acutely or critically ill patients or their families across the healthcare continuum; address clinical knowledge, skills and abilities utilized by acute or critical care CNSs; and have an impact on assessment data.
These programs, which do not need to be approved by AACN, may be offered by hospitals, professional associations or independent educational groups. Home study or self-study programs involving professional journals and other sources that grant CE contact hours also apply to Category A.
If a course is taken for academic credit but is specific to patient care, Category A CE credits can be awarded. Examples include physical assessment; anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology; diagnostic tests used in critical care settings; concerns regarding the environment in critical care area; psychological or behavioral responses of the patient and family; issues pertaining to the patient care environment; therapies, interventions or knowledge vital to patient management; and Core review or exam review programs.
In addition, Category A CE will be granted for professional publishing activities, including authorship, co-authorship or writing an editorial related to acute and critical care content.
Additional information about CCNS certification and renewal requirements is available on the
Practice Online to Take PCCN Certification Exam
A new self-assessment exam is now available online to help prepare progressive care nurses to take the PCCN certification exam.
Similar to the CCRN SAE, this practice exam mirrors the PCCN exam in the percentage weight of the categories tested. The 50-item practice exam also includes rationales for correct and incorrect answers and a score report similar to the one received when taking the PCCN exam. Use of reference books is encouraged to guide study while taking the exam, because answers cannot be changed once selected.
The PCCN SAE can also be used by currently certified PCCNs, once during a renewal period, for review, reinforcement of knowledge and for obtaining Category A CERPs toward renewal. PCCNs passing the PCCN SAE with a score of at least 70% may obtain 12 CERPs toward their next renewal period. The score report must be saved as documentation, should it be needed for audit purposes. Purchasers may have access to the online exam for up to 90 days, as long as they do not “finish” it.
You can access the practice exam via the AACN
SAE Committee Recognition
AACN Certification Corporation appreciates the following volunteers, who shared their time and expertise in developing both the CCRN and PCCN online SAEs:
CCRN SAE Committee—Debbie Becker, RN, MS, MS, APRN, CRNP, NP, Michael Day, RN, MSN, CCRN, Roberta Kaplow, RN, PhD, CCNS, CCRN, Marthe J. Moseley, RN, PhD, CCRN, CCNS, Katie Schatz, RN, MS, MSN, APRN, NP, and Kathleen M. Stacy, RN, CNS, MS, CCRN
PCCN SAE Committee—Gyl G. Corona, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS, JoEllen Craghead, RN, MSN, CCRN, Gerard B. Hannibal, RN, BSN, CCRN, Susan V. Helms, RN, MSN, CCRN, Kathleen M. Stacy, RN, CNS, MS, CCRN, and Mary A. Stahl, RN, MSN, CCRN, APRN, BC
Paper-and-Pencil Versions of Certification Exams Available at Trends Conference
AACN Certification Corporation is offering paper-and-pencil versions of its certification exams on April 6, during the Trends conference in Philadelphia, Pa.
You can register to take the CCRN or PCCN exams, as well as the new CMC (cardiac medicine certification) or CSC (cardiac surgery certification) exams. You must register by Feb. 22.
Review sessions for each of these exams are also being offered at the conference. Trends, which is sponsored by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of AACN in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s Trauma Center at Penn, is scheduled for April 3 through 6 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel.
For more information or to register for the exams, call (800) 899-2226. For more information about the conference, call (800) 394-5995, ext. 239; e-mail,
Maine OKs CCNS Exam for Advanced Practice
Maine has joined the list of states that now recognize CCNS certification as meeting the criteria for advanced practice nursing designation or licensure.
In addition to Maine, the state boards of nursing in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin have either approved the CCNS exam, or listed AACN Certification Corporation as an approved certification body. Some state boards of nursing, including those in New Mexico and Virginia, accept the CCNS exam, though they do not use a formal approval process.
All nurses planning to use the CCNS to obtain advanced practice licensure should check the specific requirements of their state boards of nursing before taking the CCNS exam.
The October issue of Nursing 2004 reports that certification pays. Certified nurses had an average, full-time annual income that was almost $10,000 higher than those who were not certified, according to the report. In addition, the number of hospitals paying certification fees increased from 23% in 2003 to 29% in 2004. Survey findings were based on 1,733 respondents.