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Implementation of the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education, which goes into effect in 2015, will impact your CNS certification options. For more information, review Frequently Asked Questions about the Consensus Model for CNSs, available on the Practicing APRN Resources page.
CCNS certification is a credential granted by AACN Certification Corporation to those who meet the eligibility requirements and pass the CCNS exam as an adult, pediatric or neonatal acute and/or critical care clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CCNS certification validates your expert knowledge of specialized nursing care of the acutely and critically ill to patients, peers and, most importantly, to yourself. CCNS certification promotes continuing excellence in the field of acute and critical care nursing.
The CCNS exam is for those who have completed an educational program as an acute and/or critical care clinical nurse specialist (CNS). The CCNS credential may be used by nurses in some states as a proxy for advanced practice nursing licensure.
Current unencumbered licensure as an RN or APRN in the U.S. is required. An unencumbered license is not currently being subjected to formal discipline by any state board of nursing and has no provisions or conditions that limit the nurse’s practice in any way. A copy of your RN or APRN license must be submitted with your application.
Candidates must submit original graduate-level transcripts and a signed Educational Eligibility Verification Form documenting completion of a graduate advanced practice education program that meets the following requirements.
The curriculum includes, but is not limited to:
The curriculum meets the following criteria:
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AACN Certification Corporation has requested approval of the CCNS exam from each state licensure board. Most states have approved the CCNS exam. Review the list of approved states. Advanced practice certification is not required for licensure in some states including, but not limited to, Nevada.
The 3 1/2-hour CCNS exam consists of 175 multiple-choice items; 155 are scored and 20 are used to gather statistical data on item performance for future exams. On each exam, 78% of the items address content where the age of the patient spans the developmental spectrum. The remaining 22% of each exam addresses care of acutely and/or critically ill adult, neonatal or pediatric patients.
After your application is reviewed and eligibility verified, an approval-to-test postcard and email will be sent to you from our testing service, Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP). You may then schedule your exam by calling a toll-free number or going online to www.goAMP.com to make your testing appointment. You are given a 90-day window to schedule and sit for the exam.
The CCNS exam is administered by computer at AMP testing centers. Testing is offered Monday through Saturday twice daily at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at more than 175 testing sites across the U.S. Paper and pencil versions of the CCNS exam are offered each year at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI®) and at TRENDS educational conferences.
The CCNS exam will be offered through the end of 2014; eligible candidates must take and pass the CCNS exam before December 31, 2014. For more information about the CCNS exam, refer to the CCNS Exam Handbook.
It generally takes 2 to 4 weeks to evaluate and process a CCNS exam application. Processing may be delayed when the application is incomplete, supporting documentation is missing, or eligibility must be confirmed directly with the school and/or during academic breaks or holiday periods.
The CCNS Exam Handbook contains a list of recommended references used by the item writers who helped develop the CCNS exam, along with a list of products available through AACN. We also suggest reviewing the Test Plan, bibliography and sample questions included in the CCNS Exam Handbook, available online or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCNS certification is recognized for a 5-year period.
CCNS certification is recognized for a period of 5 years. Renewing candidates may complete one of the following renewal options.
For complete information about the CCNS renewal requirements, please refer to the CCNS Renewal Handbook.
Candidates renewing by practice hours must have been actively involved in the direct care of acutely and/or critically ill patients in all roles of the clinical nurse specialist within the U.S. for a minimum of 1,000 hours over the certification period, and maintain current unencumbered RN or APRN licensure. An unencumbered license has not been subjected to formal discipline be any state board of nursing and has no provisions or conditions that limit the nurse’s practice in any way.
Care is defined by the performance of activities that exemplify the eight characteristics that contribute to optimal outcomes. This care may be directed toward a patient/population, nursing personnel and/or other disciplines/organizations/systems. For details, refer to the CCNS Renewal Handbook.
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