CCRN renewal

Everything You Need to Know About the CCRN Renewal Process

After you have put in all the work to get your CCRN, you now have to make sure you can maintain it. Fortunately, the CCRN renewal process is much simpler than getting your actual certification and you even have a few options in how you want to go about it. Here’s a look at what steps you need to take to keep your certification active.

When do you have to renew your CCRN certification?

Nurses need to renew their CCRN every 3 years. This time period may not seem very long, but it is relatively comparable to other certifications you may get in this field, such as your ACLS, PALS, TNCC, and NRP.

According to the AACN CCRN Renewal Handbook, “The purpose of certification renewal is to promote continued competence. The renewal process helps to maintain an up-to-date knowledge base through continuing education and practice hours, or practice hours and passing the certification exam.”

As we all know in our own practices, medical knowledge is ever-changing and it is our duty to our patients and our profession to be on top of current evidence-based practices. By renewing your certification every 3 years, you can keep abreast of changes in nursing care and learn about new technologies made to support our work in critical care settings.

CCRN renewal

What does the CCRN renewal process entail?

There are two options for renewing your CCRN certification: Renew by completing 100 Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs) or re-take the CCRN exam.

CCRN renewal

Renewal by Synergy CERPs

The first option is officially titled “Renewal by Synergy CERPs.” In this option, nurses need to participate in a variety of continuing education activities for acute and critical care nurses. These activities may include doing pieces for a critical care publication, giving presentations, serving in a leadership role, and participating in committee and quality assurance programs. You may also gain credits for doing volunteer activities with professional health care organizations (including your home facility). 

There are three categories you will need to specifically earn credits in, and each has its own hourly requirements.

  • Category A (60 – 80 CERPs): The first Synergy CERP category is Clinical Judgement, Clinical Inquiry, where you have continuing education and clinical practice in areas such as interpreting lab values, BLS/ACLS/PALS/NRP, interpreting EKGs, auditing, publishing, and exam review courses. (For the complete list, see page 13 of the CCRN Renewal Handbook.)
  • Category B (10-30 CERPs): The second CERP category is Advocacy and Moral Agency, Caring Practices, Response to Diversity, Facilitation of Learning. You will need to participate in continuing education in topics covering safety and restraints, legal and ethical issues, charting, HIPPA. Spiritual considerations, violence, mental health, etc.
  • Category C (10-30 CERPs): The third category is Collaboration and Systems Thinking. To meet these CERPs, you will need to hone in on your communication skills, teamwork, case management, risk management, developing policies and procedures, etc.)

When it comes to calculating your CERPs, it is relatively straightforward: 1 hour of education time equates 1 CERP, just like 1 hour of service or hands-on contact time equals 1 CERP. If you take an academic course, 1 credit is worth 15 CERPs. So, if you take a 3-credit course in something, you would get 45 CERPs.

You will need to create a log to keep track of all your CERPs and turn it in with your renewal application and fee. The log starts on page 20 in the renewal handbook.

CCRN renewal



Renewal by Exam 

If you choose to take the CCRN exam, the process will be quite similar to when you first obtained your certification. You will need to complete your application and sign up for a test date. You will need to prepare again so that you can pass the exam, so people often re-take CCRN courses and look for updated CCRN study books (if there have been changes) so they are up-to-date on their critical care nursing knowledge.

Which renewal option is best?

Both options are great ways to renew your CCRN. Indeed, there isn’t generally one that is better over the other. Some people opt to take the exam because they have already passed it at least once and know what to expect, and they also don’t want to worry about tracking CERPs over the course of 3 years.

Other people find the exam to be too daunting. And, because they are already doing many of the requirements for CERPs with their normal efforts at work, why not get extra credit for it and apply it to your CCRN renewal? 

When it comes to choosing what is best for you, it really depends on what route may give you the most value. Remember, this is an opportunity to boost your nursing knowledge, so use CCRN renewal as a tool to enhance your nursing practice and better your patient outcomes.

CCRN renewal

How do you sign up to renew?

CCRN renewal

You can fill out your renewal application at Here, you will choose what certificate you are renewing (such as CCRN Adult or CCRN-K Pediatric) and it will give you access to the online application and other useful resources like the:

Is there a renewal fee?

Yes. Your renewal fee depends on a few factors. Firstly, if you are an AACN member, you have a discounted rate on your renewal. Secondly, the way you renew also affects your fee. 

If you choose to do the Renewal by Synergy CERPs route, it costs $150 for a member and $230 for a nonmember.

If you chose to do renewal by exam, it costs $170 for a member and $275 for a nonmember.

If you renew with an Inactive Status, meaning you currently do not meet eligibility requirements now but may in the future, your renewal fee is $95 as a member and $175 as a non-member.

CCRN renewal

If you choose to renew by exam, join us at Critical Care Academy,

where we make preparing for the CCRN exam easy, convenient, relevant, and engaging