Frequently Asked Questions About CCRN-E Certification

What is CCRN-E?

CCRN-E is an extension of the CCRN certification program designed for nurses working exclusively or primarily in a tele-ICU (such as a virtual ICU or e-ICU®) behind the camera observing live patients from a remote location. 

Nurses working in education or in a simulation lab would not be eligible for CCRN-E. The CCRN-E credential may be obtained through successful completion of the CCRN-E initial exam or as a renewal option for CCRNs who have moved into the tele-ICU. The CCRN-E certification period is three years.

What is a tele-ICU? 

AACN has adopted the term of "tele-ICU" to describe the delivery of remote intensive care services where monitoring systems are used to:

  • Maximize technology in order to detect trends in patient data.
  • Identify instability and communicate with bedside ICU care providers and patients.

Nurses in tele-ICUs:

  • Monitor acutely and/or critically ill patients and clinical data.
  • Provide consultation and coaching to bedside nurses behind a camera from a remote location.

Tele-ICUs are emerging, technologically enabled networks that may be utilized for:

  • Improving patient safety.
  • Bridging distance barriers for rural and underserved areas.
  • Providing access to multidisciplinary clinical expertise
  • Shortening ICU lengths of stay.
  • Improving patient outcomes and saving costs.

If I've never had my CCRN, but work exclusively in the tele-ICU, can I obtain the CCRN-E credential?

Yes, the CCRN-E credential may be obtained through successful completion of the CCRN-E initial exam.

What are the CCRN-E initial exam eligibility requirements? 

CCRN-E exam eligibility requirements include:

  • Possession of a current, unencumbered U.S. RN license.
  • Meet one of the following clinical practice requirement options:
    • Option 1: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in the care of acutely and/or critically ill adult patients in a tele-ICU or in a combination of tele-ICU and direct bedside care during the previous two years, with 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application. 
    • Option 2: Practice as an RN or APRN for at least five years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in the care of acutely and/or critically ill adult patients in a tele-ICU or in a combination of tele-ICU and direct bedside care, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application.~
  • Eligible clinical practice hours are those completed in a U.S.-based facility or in a facility determined to be comparable to the U.S. standard of acute/critical care tele-ICU nursing practice.
  • For more details, refer to the CCRN-E Exam Handbook

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Is the CCRN-E certification exam accredited?

All AACN Certification Corporation exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). AACN’s APRN certification exams are recognized as meeting the national criteria for APRN licensure by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and by individual state boards of nursing.

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. 

When is the CCRN-E exam offered?

The CCRN-E exam is offered via computer-based testing year-round, Monday through Saturday, at more than 175 testing sites across the U.S.

What are the eligibility requirements for CCRN-E renewal? 

CCRN-E renewal eligibility requirements include:

  • Possession of a current, unencumbered U.S. RN or APRN license.
  • Practice as an RN or APRN for 432 hours in the care of acutely and/or critically ill adult patients in a tele-ICU or in a combination of tele-ICU and direct bedside care within the 3-year certification period, with 144 of those hours accrued in the 12-month period prior to the scheduled renewal date.
  • Completion of the Renewal by Synergy CERPs program with a total of 100 CERPs in specified categories (A, B and C) during the 3-year certification period. Those moving from CCRN to CCRN-E or CCRN-E to CCRN status may successfully complete the CCRN-E exam or Synergy CERP requirements for CCRN-E or CCRN.
  • The name and address of your clinical director or manager must be given for verification of eligibility related to practice hours. If you are randomly selected for audit, this associate will need to verify that you have met the clinical hour requirements.

How do I decide which renewal program to select?

The program selected is based on eligibility. If you renew as a CCRN-E, refer to the eligibility and renewal options in the online CCRN-E Renewal Handbook. Renewal by Synergy CERPs requires that you complete 100 CERPs in specified categories during the 3-year certification period. The breakdown of CERPs for CCRN-E is based on the results of AACN Certification Corporation’s 2006 Virtual ICU Study of Practice, which showed greater emphasis on clinical judgment, clinical inquiry, collaboration and systems thinking skills in the tele-ICU. If you renew as a CCRN, refer to the CCRN eligibility and renewal options in the CCRN Renewal Handbook.

If I work in both the tele-ICU and direct beside in critical care, should I renew as a CCRN-E? If I qualify for both CCRN and CCRN-E may I apply for both?

You may not renew as both a CCRN and CCRN-E; however, you may change your renewal category depending on your practice within the three years prior to your renewal. So, a CCRN-E may renew as a CCRN-E or CCRN; a CCRN may renew as a CCRN or CCRN-E, depending on your practice. If you qualify for both credentials, you may choose which you prefer.

Is it possible to renew as a CCRN after previously renewing as a CCRN-E?

Yes, if you have the required CCRN direct bedside clinical hours and have completed the Synergy CERP requirements of 100 CERPs in Categories A, B and C, it is possible to move from CCRN-E to CCRN status. The option selected is based on your individual practice and which eligibility requirements were met during the 3-year period prior to your scheduled renewal date. Both CCRN-Es and CCRNs have the renewal options of Renewal by Synergy CERPs (CCRN or CCRN-E), Renewal by Exam or Inactive status.

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When can I become a CCRN-E?

Once you meet the CCRN-E initial exam eligibility requirements, you may apply for the CCRN-E exam online, or use the paper application found in the CCRN-E Exam Handbook. Current CCRNs who have moved to the tele-ICU may renew as a CCRN-E at their scheduled renewal time. Only nurses who hold Inactive status and now meet CCRN-E renewal requirements may apply for CCRN-E at a time other than their scheduled renewal date.

If you meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN-E, you may renew via the CCRN-E Renewal by Synergy CERPs program. If you are moving from CCRN to CCRN-E (or from CCRN-E back to CCRN), you may complete the Synergy CERP requirements (Categories A, B and C) for either CCRN or CCRN-E.

What are the CCRN-E Renewal by Synergy CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points) program requirements?

The CCRN-E Renewal by Synergy CERPs program requires:

  • 70 CERPs in Category A.
  • 5 CERPs in Category B.
  • 25 CERPs in Category C.

The CCRN Renewal by Synergy CERPs program requires:

  • 60 CERPs in Category A.
  • 10 CERPs each in Categories B and C.
  • 20 CERPs in the category of your choice (A, B or C).

What if I work exclusively in a tele-ICU and meet the practice hour requirements for CCRN-E, but do not meet the Synergy CERP requirements for CCRN-E?

If you do not have the required hours or CERPs to renew as a CCRN–E or a CCRN at your scheduled renewal time, you may opt for Inactive status for a period of up to three years to allow you time to meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN or CCRN-E. If you are moving from CCRN-E to CCRN status, you may choose to renew by either Synergy CERPs program (CCRN or CCRN-E), both of which require 100 CERPs with specified requirements in Categories A, B and C.

What if I work primarily in the tele-ICU and want to return to bedside care, but do not meet the direct bedside hour requirements for CCRN renewal?

If you are a CCRN or CCRN-E who returns to direct bedside care, but do not have the required bedside practice hours during the renewal period to renew as a CCRN, you could apply for Inactive status or renew as a CCRN-E.

If you go Inactive, once you have met the eligibility requirements to renew as a CCRN (432 hours in direct bedside care of acutely and/or critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours in the 12-month period prior to your scheduled renewal date) and have met the Renewal by Synergy CERPs requirements, you may renew as a CCRN.

What if I worked in a tele-ICU for two years, but the year prior to my scheduled renewal date was spent working at the bedside?

If during the last 12 months of the 3-year certification period you completed at least 432 hours of direct bedside care of acutely and/or critically ill patients, you may renew as a CCRN. During that time you must have also met the CCRN Synergy CERP requirements (60 in Category A, 10 each in Categories B and C, plus 20 in the category of your choice).

If, however, you are moving from CCRN-E to CCRN status, you may choose to renew by either Synergy CERPs program (CCRN or CCRN-E), both of which require 100 CERPs with specified requirements in Categories A, B and C. For more details, refer to the CCRN Renewal Handbook or the CCRN-E Renewal Handbook.

Can I maintain certification if I leave the tele-ICU and/or no longer provide direct bedside care?

If you are no longer eligible for CCRN-E or CCRN status, you may be eligible for CCRN-K renewal. Other renewal options include Inactive, Alumnus and Retired status; more details about these options can be found in the CCRN-E Renewal Handbook.

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