CSC Renewal Options and Eligibility Requirements

CSCs seeking renewal of their subspecialty certification focus their continuing education on programs that have direct application to the needs of acutely/critically ill cardiac surgery patients.

Acceptable topics and programs along with guidance on how to calculate CERPs can be found in the CSC Renewal Handbook.

Eligibility Requirements for Renewal

  • Current unencumbered licensure as an RN or APRN in the U.S. is required. 
    • An unencumbered license has not been subjected to formal discipline by any Board of Nursing during the 3-year certification period and has no provisions or conditions that limit the nurse's practice in any way. This applies to all RN or APRN licenses currently held.
    • Certificants must notify AACN Certification Corporation within 30 days if any restriction is placed on their RN or APRN license(s). 
  • Have passed the CSC subspecialty certification exam.
  • Hold a current nationally-accredited (NCCA or ABNS) clinical nursing specialty certification, such as CCRN, CCRN-E, PCCN, ACNPC, ACNPC-AG, CCNS, ACCNS-AG, CEN, RN-BC, APRN-BC, ACNP-BC, etc.
  • Practice as an RN or APRN is required for 432 hours in direct bedside care of cardiac surgery patients within the first 48 hours postoperatively during the 3-year certification renewal period, with 144 of those hours accrued in the 12-month period prior to the scheduled renewal date.
    • Nurses serving as manager, educator (in-service or academic), CNS or preceptor may apply hours spent supervising nursing students or nurses at the bedside toward the clinical hour requirement. Nurses in these roles must be actively involved in caring for cardiac and/or cardiac surgery patients (e.g., demonstrating how to measure pulmonary artery pressures or supervising a new employee or student nurse performing a procedure).
    • Eligible clinical practice hours are those completed in a U.S.-based or Canada-based facility or in a facility determined to be comparable by verifiable evidence to the U.S. standard of acute/critical care nursing practice, as evidenced by Magnet Status or Joint Commission International accreditation.
  • For more details, refer to the CSC renewal policy or the CSC Renewal Handbook.

Option 1- Renewal by CERPs

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for certification renewal.
  • Subspecialty Renewal by CERPs is obtained by accumulating a total of 25 Category A clinical judgment CERPs.
    • These CERPs must be accrued during the 3-year certification renewal period.
  • CERPs must pertain to cardiac surgery and may include any topic on the CSC Test Plan.
  • ACLS courses are acceptable for CERPs once during the 3-year certification renewal period.

Option 2 - Renewal by Exam

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for certification renewal and successfully complete the exam before your scheduled renewal date.
  • The CSC Exam Handbook provides exam policies and an application.

Do not apply for more than one option.

  • It is not permissible to take the exam early and then attempt to renew by CERPs if you fail.


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