CCRN-K Frequently Asked Questions

In alignment with AACN Certification Corporation’s mission of patient protection, CCRN-K validates the valuable clinical specialty knowledge of the many nursing professionals who do not exclusively or primarily practice at the bedside but influence the care delivered to acutely and/or critically ill patients. 

If I’ve never been certified as a CCRN, can I obtain CCRN-K?

Yes, any nurse who meets the eligibility requirements for CCRN-K certification may apply for and take the CCRN-K exam.

Can I be certified as both a CCRN and CCRN-K?

No, you should hold the credential that best aligns with your practice. If you meet the direct bedside clinical hour and CERP requirements for CCRN, you should hold CCRN certification.

Are there adult, pediatric and neonatal versions of the CCRN-K exam?

Yes, if you are moving from CCRN or CCRN-E to CCRN-K, you will need to renew in alignment with the patient population of the certification currently held.

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How do I prepare for the CCRN-K exam?

All resources used to prepare for the CCRN exam are applicable for use in preparing for the CCRN-K exam. Refer to the How to Prepare page.

If my practice is not focused on acutely/critically ill patients, would I be eligible for CCRN-K renewal?

No, to renew to CCRN-K you must influence the care delivered to acutely/critically ill patients – those with problems listed on the CCRN-K Test Plans, found in the CCRN-K Exam Handbook.

If my practice covers multiple patient care settings, would I be eligible for CCRN-K?

If you meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN-K, your practice need not exclusively focus on the care delivered to acutely/critically ill patients. For example, if you manage an ICU and a regular Medical/Surgical unit, you may count the hours spent managing the ICU toward the practice hours for CCRN-K.

If I practice as an acute care NP, would I be eligible to renew to CCRN-K?

Because most acute care NPs (ACNPs) provide direct patient care (e.g., physical assessment, bedside procedures), CCRN certification would be more appropriate for ACNP practice. If your practice does not include providing direct patient care for 12 hours per month on average, CCRN-K would be an alternate option.

What all may be counted toward the clinical hours needed for CCRN renewal?

Nurse managers, educators, APRNs and preceptors may apply hours spent supervising nurses and nursing students caring for acutely/critically ill patients at the bedside toward the clinical hours for CCRN renewal (e.g., demonstrating how to measure pulmonary artery pressures or supervising a new nurse performing a procedure). The clinical hour requirement for CCRN renewal averages out to 12 hours per month.

If my primary role is as an educator or manager, but I also work a 12-hour shift in an ICU setting each month, should I renew as a CCRN-K?

No, if you meet the bedside care requirements for CCRN renewal, you should continue to renew as a CCRN.

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If my primary role is not direct bedside care, but I continue to teach nurses or nursing students at the bedside of acutely and/or critically ill patients, should I renew as a CCRN-K?

If you meet the direct bedside care requirements for CCRN renewal (which can include teaching nurses or nursing students at the bedside of acutely and/or critically ill patients), you should continue to renew as a CCRN. Nurses who lack sufficient bedside hours to renew as a CCRN but meet CCRN-K practice requirements may renew as a CCRN-K.

If I was certified as a CCRN in the past, would I be eligible for CCRN-K?

  • If your CCRN certification expired less than 3 years ago, you may be eligible for retroactive Inactive status. If eligible, you may be able to obtain CCRN-K Renewal by Synergy CERPs.
  • If your CCRN certification expired more than 3 years ago AND you meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN-K, you may apply to sit for the CCRN-K as an initial exam applicant.

If I hold current Inactive CCRN status, what do I need to do to renew to CCRN-K? 

Yes, as soon as you meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN-K renewal (for both CERPs and practice hours), you may renew to CCRN-K. This must be done before the end of your Inactive status period. Refer to the CCRN-K Renewal Handbook.

If I am moving from CCRN to CCRN-K, how many CERPs do I need?

When renewing to CCRN-K for the first time, you may meet the CERP requirements for CCRN or CCRN-K, both of which require 100 CERPs.

  • The CERP program for CCRN-K includes 80 CERPs in Category A and 10 CERPs each in Categories B and C.
  • The CERP program for CCRN includes 60 CERPs in Category A, 10 CERPs each in Categories B and C, plus 20 CERPs in a category of your choice.

If I hold Alumnus CCRN status, may I obtain CCRN-K certification?

  • If you have held Alumnus CCRN status for less than 3 years, you may be eligible for retroactive Inactive status. If eligible, you may be able to obtain CCRN-K Renewal by Synergy CERPs.
  • If you have held Alumnus CCRN status for more than 3 years and you meet the practice eligibility requirements for CCRN-K, you may apply to sit for the CCRN-K as an initial exam applicant.

If I work in one of the roles listed, but my practice focuses on patients who are not acutely and/or critically ill, would I be eligible for CCRN-K? 

No, those eligible for CCRN-K must in their practice influence patients, nurses or organizations to have a positive impact on acutely and/or critically ill patients. Nurses who work outside acute/critical care or are not working with the acutely/critically ill are not eligible for CCRN or CCRN-K.

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If I work in a role that is not listed, but my practice involves acutely/critically ill patients in alignment with the CCRN-K Test Plan, could I be eligible for CCRN-K? 

Yes, the list of roles is not all-inclusive. If your practice influences patients, nurses or organizations to have a positive impact on the care delivered to acutely and/or critically ill patients and families, you may be eligible for CCRN-K.

If I have been actively CCRN-certified since 1990 and renew as a CCRN-K, will my record reflect my “certified since” date as 1990 or the date I become a CCRN-K? 

Since CCRN-K and CCRN-E are extensions of the CCRN certification program, those who renew to CCRN-E or CCRN-K retain their “certified since” date as the date they first became certified, not the date they move to CCRN-E or CCRN-K.

Am I able to attach my CMC or CSC subspecialty credential to CCRN-K? 

No, CCRN-K is not a clinical nursing specialty certification that involves direct patient care, so it does not meet the CMC or CSC specialty certification requirement.

As a former CCRN, would I automatically be eligible for CCRN-K certification? 

No, only former CCRNs who meet the eligibility requirements for CCRN-K may become certified as CCRN-Ks. Refer to the CCRN-K Exam Handbook for eligibility requirements.

Is it possible to renew as a CCRN after holding CCRN-K certification? 

Yes, if you complete the required bedside care clinical hours and meet the CERP requirements, it is possible to move from CCRN-K to CCRN at your next scheduled renewal date. Refer to the CCRN-K Renewal Handbook.  

If I am unsure if my practice qualifies for CCRN-K, what should I do? 

For questions about CCRN-K eligibility, please email certification@aacn.org

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