AACN Fact Sheet

Contact Us:

101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
(949) 362-2000 or toll-free (800) 899-2226
Fax: (949) 362-2020
Email: info@aacn.org
Website: www.aacn.org


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the world's largest specialty nursing organization, has been serving the needs of nurses caring for acutely and critically ill patients since 1969. Representing the interests of more than 500,000 nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients, AACN is dedicated to creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families, where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN defines acute and critical care nursing as the specialty within nursing that deals with human responses to potential and actual life-threatening health problems.


Patients and their families rely on nurses at the most vulnerable times of their lives. Acute and critical care nurses rely on AACN for expert knowledge and the influence to fulfill their promise to patients and their families. AACN drives excellence because nothing less is acceptable.


AACN is dedicated to creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and families where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.


Education of the Acute and Critical Care Nurse is an AACN Priority.

AACN helps acute and critical care nurses stay up to date in technology and treatment techniques. AACN offers a wide array of opportunities through educational products, national conferences and local and regional seminars.

The annual National Teaching Institute (NTI) & Critical Care Exposition® is the premier clinical education program for nurses caring for patients with complex health problems. More than 7,000 nurses attend this event each year where more than 400 sessions, plus an intensive preconference program of half-day and full-day workshops, are all available for continuing education credits. NTI also includes the Critical Care Exposition, the largest and most comprehensive trade show focused on acute and critical care nurses. More than 500 companies exhibit each year.

The E-Learning Program offers quality Web-based educational courses that are cost effective, easy to use and available 24/7. Many E-Learning courses are currently available:

  • "Essentials of Critical Care Orientation" (ECCO 2.0) is an online, self-paced, interactive program that teaches the basics of critical care nursing.
    • Content includes the cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurologic, renal, hematologic, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems, as well as an emphasis on the body as a multisystem.
    • Self-assessments throughout the program check for concept comprehension while modular exams ensure mastery of the information.
  • "Basic ECG Interpretation" uses the same Web-based training platform as ECCO and can be used in conjunction with the ECCO modules.
    • Content includes cardiac physiology, ECG equipment, lead placement, dysrhythmia analysis and interpretation.
    • It's ideal for anyone working with cardiac patients.
  • "Essentials of Nurse Manager Orientation" is a comprehensive program for frontline managers, charge nurses, aspiring managers and leadership staff that addresses the issues they face every day.
    • Developed by a distinguished panel of experts and modeled after the Nurse Manager Leadership Collaborative's Learning Domain Framework, this program is offered through a partnership with the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE).
  • "The Preceptor Challenge" and "Promoting Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care."
    • Essential skills can be learned and practiced in a safe, virtual environment to improve real-life performance.
Health Policy:

AACN Serves as a Conduit of Vital, Timely Information Between Acute and Critical Care Nurses and Legislative and Regulatory Bodies.

AACN strives to be a voice for acute and critical care nurses on congressional and regulatory issues, thereby ensuring that nurses play an active role in shaping the future of acute and critical care. AACN seeks to influence and shape health policy in a number of ways.

In addition to developing its own position statements on a variety of issues, AACN works within healthcare coalitions to support legislative efforts and to bring attention at the national level to issues important to acute and critical care nurses, nursing and the healthcare system. In addition, AACN participates in national forums that shape health policy, care delivery and environments where nurses work and patients are cared for.

As part of its health policy effort, AACN's Voice initiative seeks to establish and sustain healthy work environments and improve palliative, end-of-life care and workforce development.


235 Local Chapters Bring Acute and Critical Care Nursing to the Community.

AACN chapters provide the opportunity for nurses to directly affect their profession at the local level. AACN chapter members are among the most enthusiastic and active recruiters of new nursing professionals.

Chapters plan and execute educational programs of interest to local AACN members and nonmembers alike. Chapters often sponsor community events such as CPR classes, health fairs and school career days, and they participate in the programs of other organizations.


AACN Is a Leader in Setting the Standards for Acute and Critical Care Nursing Practice and Education.

Standards of Acute and Critical Care Nursing Practice, a resource widely used by hospitals and schools of nursing, is available from the association. This document describes the role, standards of care and professional practice that all nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients should meet.

AACN developed and released Scope and Standards for the Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, a key document in describing the role and practice of advanced practice nurses, and AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence, which provides healthcare organizations with a benchmark for targeting patient safety and staff retention improvement efforts.

AACN also shapes acute and critical care nursing practice through its Protocols for Practice. These evidence-based guidelines address key aspects of care for acutely and critically ill patients, and provide up-to-date research information. In addition, Education Standards for Critical Care Nursing describes the factors that must be in place for an effective critical care education program.

Beacon Award:

The Beacon Award for Excellence Recognizes and Acclaims Acute and Critical Care Nursing Units that Achieve the Highest-Quality Outcomes.

The award also provides a mechanism for individual units to measure progress against evidence-based, national criteria for excellence, learn and refine processes and be heralded for their achievements. Applicants are rated on factors including nurse recruitment and retention, staff training, patient outcomes, healthy work environments, leadership and evidence-based practice and research. The Beacon Award is presented twice a year and is available for Critical Care, Progressive Care and Pediatric Critical Care units.


AACN Certification Programs Provide a Mechanism for Acute and Critical Care Nurses to Validate Their Knowledge of Acute and Critical Care Nursing.

AACN Certification Corporation, the certification arm of AACN, develops and administers the CCRN, PCCN, CCRN-E, CCNS and ACNPC specialty exams, CNML exam and the CMC and CSC subspecialty exams. These exams have been demonstrated to be legally defensible and psychometrically sound indicators of mastery of the knowledge, skills and abilities to practice effectively in a defined role or specialty.

The exams are administered via computer-based testing at locations nationwide. Paper-and-pencil versions of the exams are also offered during the annual National Teaching Institute (NTI) and biannual TRENDS conferences. The exams are open to nurses who meet the eligibility requirements, which include a specified period of practice in the role being tested.


AACN Invests in the Future by Supporting Nursing Research.

AACN awards research grants that actively promote studies relevant to nursing care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families. Grants from $500 to $50,000 may be awarded for specific studies that include direct research by an experienced researcher, development of novice researchers and research utilization.

AACN has also sponsored national multicenter studies. Current and past research includes endotracheal suctioning, critical care nurses' contributions to improved patient outcomes and cost effectiveness and patient response to procedural pain.


AACN Journals Are an Invaluable Resource.

AACN is a nationally recognized source of information about acute and critical care. The multidisciplinary American Journal of Critical Care is the association's peer-reviewed scientific and research journal.

Critical Care Nurse provides up-to-date clinical information directly useful to nurses at the bedside as well as timely coverage of other important issues affecting acute and critical care nursing.

AACN Advanced Critical Care is a quarterly publication featuring content for experienced critical care nurses, clinical nurse specialists, case managers, academic and clinical educators and advanced practice nurses.

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