Frequently Asked Questions About CCNS Certification

What is CCNS certification?

CCNS is the credential that was granted by AACN Certification Corporation to those who met the eligibility requirements for certification as an adult, pediatric or neonatal acute and/or critical care clinical nurse specialist (CNS).  

How does the APRN Consensus Model impact the CCNS certification program? 

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education, which went into effect in 2015, impacts CNS certification options.

The CCNS is no longer available for initial exam but remains as a renewal exam. The Consensus Model-based ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P and ACCNS-N exams are available for those educated as clinical nurse specialists across the spectrum of wellness through acute care.

For more information, refer to Frequently Asked Questions about the Consensus Model for CNSs, available on the Practicing APRN Resources page.

Board certified in the nursing world simply refers to certification from a nationally-accredited organization that is governed by a board of directors. As such, AACN certification programs are, indeed, board certified.

What are the CCNS renewal requirements?

CCNS certification is recognized for a period of 5 years. Renewing candidates may complete one of the following renewal options.

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

Candidates renewing by practice hours (option 1 or 2) 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 complete information about the CCNS renewal requirements, please refer to the CCNS Renewal Handbook.  

How many items are on the CCNS renewal exams? 

The 2-hour CCNS renewal exams consist of 100 multiple-choice items. Test plans for the renewal exams can be found in the CCNS Renewal Handbook

What does “board certified” mean? Are AACN certifications considered board certifications? 

Board certified is a term primarily used by physician organizations. Only 3 of the 34 national nursing certifying organizations that are members of the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) label their credentials/programs in this way. While an organization may use the term board certified when referring to their nursing certification programs, it does not reflect a different or higher level of certification. 

Board certified in the nursing world simply refers to certification from a nationally-accredited organization that is governed by a board of directors. As such, AACN certification programs are, indeed, board certified.

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