AACN Certification A Mark of Excellence What is Certification? Validation of an individual nurse’s qualifications for practice in a defined area Administered by a nongovernmental agency Based on predetermined standards
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A Mark of Excellence
What is Certification?
Why Do Nurses Get Certified?
Why Do Hospitals Support Certification?
Why AACN Certification?
As a vital part of AACN, the recognized leader and standard-setter in acute and critical care nursing, the AACN Certification Corporation administers certification programs for nurses to proudly demonstrate the specialized knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for safe and effective acute and critical care nursing practice
AACN certification contributes to improved patient health and safety by establishing and promoting high standards of professional practice
For nurses who care directly for acutely or critically ill patients at the bedside
For clinical nurse specialists who care for acutely or critically ill patients
For nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients in the progressive care setting
For acute care nurse practitionerswho care for acutely and critically ill patients
For certified nurses who subspecialize in caring for cardiology patients
For certified nurses who subspecialize in caring for cardiac surgery patients
AACN Certification Exams
The AACN Certification Corporation develops and administers exams for these certifications
These exams are legally defensible and psychometrically sound indicators of the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to practice effectively
Exams are open to nurses caring for acutely and critically ill patients who meet the eligibility requirements, including a specified period of clinical practice in the role being tested
The CCRN credential is for RNs working at the bedside of critically ill patients
The clinical setting may include ICUs, CCUs, Emergency Departments, Trauma Units, Interventional Radiology /Cardiology Units, or Critical Care Transport/Flight Units
There are three separate CCRN exams: adult, neonatal and pediatric
The CCNS certification is for clinical nurse specialists working with acutely and criticallyill patients
It may be used by nurses in some states to help qualify for advanced practice nursing licensure
A candidate must document completion of a graduate advanced practice education program
There are three separate CCNS exams: adult, neonatal and pediatric
The PCCN certification is for nurses working at the bedside of acutely ill adult patients in the progressive care setting
Progressive care is how AACN collectively describes units such as Intermediate Care, Direct Observation, Step-down, Telemetry, and Transitional Care
The PCCN credential is also appropriate for nurses who practice in Cardiac Catheterization Labs
The ACNPC advanced practice certification is for acute care nurse practitioners
This certification is currently being approved on a state-by-state basis – check with your state board of nursing to make sure the ACNPC exam certification meets your state's requirements for advanced practice designation or licensure
The Cardiac Medicine subspecialty certification is for nurses who already have a nationally accredited clinical nursing specialty certification such as CCRN, CCNS or PCCN who sub-specialize in caring for cardiology patients
The clinical settings may include CCU, Combined ICU/CCU, Medical Cardiology, Heart Failure Clinics/Home Care, Interventional Cardiology, and/or Electrophysiology Units
The Cardiac Surgery subspecialty certification is for nurses who already have a nationally accredited clinical nursing specialty certification such as CCRN, CCNS or PCCN who sub-specialize in caring for cardiac surgery patients within the first 48 hours post-op
The clinical settings may include Cardiac Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiovascular Surgery and Post-Anesthesia Recovery Units
For more information about AACN certification programs, go to