Frequently Asked Questions About Changes to the CCNS Renewal Program

Why were the CCNS renewal requirements changed?

AACN endorses the APRN Consensus Model and believes it has a positive impact on the nursing profession. However, we understand implementation of the model could have unintended consequences for individual APRNs. Changes to the CCNS renewal program were geared toward minimizing the impact on one’s ability to maintain renewal requirements due to unexpected life events, such as unemployment or illness.

Did all the CCNS renewal program changes going into effect at the same time?

No. Some changes, such as to the practice hour requirements and renewal options, went into effect March 2012. Other changes, such as the new Pharmacology CE requirement, went into effect January 2014

What options do I now have to renew my CCNS certification?

CCNSs now have three (3) options for renewal:

  • Option 1 – Practice Hours and CE Points
  • Option 2 – Practice Hours and Exam
  • Option 3 – CE Points and Exam

For complete details about these options, refer to the CCNS Renewal Handbook.

Why did the CCNS certification period change from four (4) years to five (5) years?

To align with other advanced practice certification programs that have longer certification periods, AACN made the decision to extend the CCNS renewal period to five (5) years. This change went into effect for all CCNSs who renewed beginning March 31, 2012, and all new CCNSs with a certification date of April 1, 2012, or later.

How many practice hours as a CNS are required for CCNS renewal?

CCNSs renewing by practice hours need 1,000 hours (previously 2,000 hours) in the role of the CNS in the care of acutely and/or critically ill patients. Hours must be with the patient population in which certification is held (e.g., for Adult CCNS renewal, hours must be in the care of adult patients). 

Do some of my practice hours still need to be completed in the year before my renewal date?

No. The 1,000 practice hours needed for CCNS renewal may now be completed anytime during your 4-year or 5-year CCNS renewal period.

What kinds of programs or activities are included in the new CCNS Renewal CE Point program?

The CE Point program, which went into effect March 31, 2012, for all CCNSs, includes:

  • Category I – Acute Care Education - programs granting contact hours, CE, CNE, ACPE or CME and academic courses
  • Category II – Optional Activities - professional publications or presentations, preceptorship and volunteer activities

How many CE Points are needed to renew my CCNS certification with the new requirements?

Effective January 2014, renewing CCNSs will need to have 150 CE Points. 

  • At least 75 must be in Category I, 25 of which must be Pharmacology CEs.
  • The other 75 may be in Category I or Category II.

Why was a Pharmacology CE requirement added? 

To be proactive and align with state regulatory trends, AACN decided to include pharmacology for CCNS renewal beginning in January 2014.

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