About AACN Certification Corporation

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In 1975, AACN Certification Corporation was established as an independent 501(c)(6) corporation to promote and enhance consumer health and safety by establishing and maintaining high standards of professional practice excellence through certifying and recertifying nurses in the care of acutely and critically ill patients and their families.

Guided by a nine-member board of directors, AACN Certification Corporation develops and administers the CCRN, PCCN, ACNPC-AG, ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P and ACCNS-N specialty certification exams, and the CMC and CSC subspecialty certification exams.


AACN Certification Corporation drives patient health and safety through the comprehensive credentialing of acute and critical care nurses, advancing practice consistent with standards of excellence.


All nurses caring for acutely and critically ill patients and families are certified.


As the Corporation advances its mission and vision to fulfill its purpose and inherent obligation of ensuring the health and safety of patients experiencing acute and critical illness, we are guided by a set of deeply rooted values. These values are the foundation upon which we build our relentless pursuit of excellence.

  • Integrity — We demonstrate sound judgment, ethical behavior and accountability in all we do.
  • Inclusion — We build an equitable culture, inviting the full contribution of all people.
  • Transformation — We drive change and innovation to positively impact the healthcare system and improve the lives of patients, families and nurses.
  • Leadership — We advocate and influence to achieve optimal outcomes and healthy work environments.
  • Relationships — We collaborate and advance partnerships, honoring each individual to strengthen the collective.


AACN and AACN Certification Corporation consider the American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses foundational for nursing practice, providing a framework for making ethical decisions and fulfilling responsibilities to the public, colleagues and the profession.

AACN Certification Corporation’s mission of public protection supports a standard of excellence where certified nurses have a responsibility to read about, understand and act in a manner congruent with the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses.

Code of Ethics for Nurses - 2015 Approved Provisions*

  1. The nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth and unique attributes of every person.
  2. The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community or population.
  3. The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health and safety of the patient.
  4. The nurse has authority, accountability and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to provide optimal care.
  5. The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence and continue personal and professional growth.
  6. The nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe, quality health care.
  7. The nurse, in all roles and settings, advances the profession through research and scholarly inquiry, professional standards development, and the generation of both nursing and health policy.
  8. The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.
  9. The profession of nursing, collectively through its professional organizations, must articulate nursing values, maintain the integrity of the profession, and integrate principles of social justice into nursing and health policy.

*©2015 By American Nurses Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

The AACN Synergy Model and Certification Exams

The AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care (Synergy Model) was developed to link clinical practice with patient outcomes. Integration of the Synergy Model into AACN Certification Corporation credentialing programs puts an emphasis on the patient and says to the world that patients come first.

Nurses make unique contributions to quality patient and family care, evidence-based practice and healthy work environments. AACN certification exams include a Clinical Judgment component and a Professional Caring and Ethical Practice component based on nurse characteristics of the Synergy Model, which involves Advocacy/Moral Agency, Caring Practices, Clinical Inquiry, Collaboration, Facilitation of Learning, Response to Diversity and Systems Thinking.

The Synergy Model — and its incorporation into AACN certification exams — is not for memorizing the various patient or nurse characteristics or their levels, but is intended to help with comprehension of the model. Exam questions cover application of the Synergy Model, not its terminology.

Read more about the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care.