This page was last updated in 2022.
If you’re planning on applying to CRNA school, then you’re probably wondering how to get your CCRN. While it’s possible to apply to CRNA school without your CCRN, you’ll be a much more competitive applicant if you have it.
What is the CCRN? How to Get Your CCRN?
It’s a certification available to registered nurses who provide bedside care to critically or acutely ill patients. The designation of CCRN is given to Critical Care Registered Nurses who have both qualified for and passed the 3 hour exam.
How to Qualify for the CCRN
There are two ways to qualify for the CCRN exam (quoted directly from AACN.org)
- Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill adult patients during the previous two years, with 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application
- Practice as an RN or APRN for at least five years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill adult patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application
However, if you do the math, you’ll find that 1750 hours is what you accumulate working full time for a year (allowing for vacation time). It lines up nicely with the one-year-minimum critical care experience required by CRNA schools.
Further requirements for qualification include: critical care experience must take place in the US or Canada, or a facility otherwise comparable to the medical system in the States.
If you are new in the ICU and wondering which of your hours count towards the requirement, all hours where YOU were the primary nurse on record for your patients will count. Hours where you are shadowing another nurse will not count.
About the CCRN
The exam takes 3 hours and can be taken year round at one of 300 testing facilities throughout the US. Certification is valid for 3 years. If you take the internet version of the test (most people do), results are available immediately.
The exam costs roughly $300, and 20% ethical.
How Hard is the CCRN?
The CCRN has a national pass rate of around 80%. Plan on spending 30 minutes to an hour 3-4 days a week for two months before you take your exam. Most nurses who choose the right study materials and effort to master the material feel confident on test day.
Best CCRN Online Review Course
CCRN review materials come in all shapes, sizes, prices, and with varying levels of provided value. Here are a few questions to consider while you shop:
- Are practice questions included?
- How long will I have access to the materials?
- Will I get continuing education (CE) credits for my time spent?
- Will I need to take my own notes? Or will lecture notes be provided?
- How many hours of lecture material are available?
- Will the material be presented in an engaging way? Or will it be dry and technical?
Based on these questions, I would steer you away from CCRN review text books, as they are often dry, technical, and don’t provide any CE credits.
There are two online courses that have repeatedly been recommended to me by others who swear by the material. These resources have been commended for being concise, engaging, enjoyable and complete.
- 16.75 CEs
- 6 months access
- 150 sample questions, in the form of 3 separate exams
- PDF study guide
- 2 physical books
- 16 hours of content
- 12 CEs
- 3 months access
- 500 sample questions
- Includes physical book
- 12 hours of content
Can I apply to CRNA School before I get my CCRN?
In this era of pand apply as soon as possible to CRNA school.
But when everyone has this idea at once… competition increases.
There has already been a steep trend in the previous years for programs to become more competitive year after year. It’s not about minimum requirements being raised, but the quality of competition increasing.
If they all have their CCRN, it’s a bigger deal that you don’t have yours.
This brings me to one of the most frequently asked questions these days…
Can I apply to CRNA School before I have completed my one year minimum critical care experience?
The answer is, of course you can. But is it a good idea? Probably not. Not in 2021, anyways.
When this site began in 2010, I heard many stories about applicants being accepted with 3 or 6 months experience at the time of application, but not anymore.
In these recent years, applicants have 2-5 years in the ICU by the time they apply, so if your application shows up with a measly few months, your app will stand not in a good way.
Here’s 3 Major Advantages of Getting your CCRN
If getting your CCRN wasn’t on your list of things to do before, it should be now. Here are three reasons to prioritize your CCRN:
- It makes you a more competitive applicant
- There is much overlap between the CCRN exam and the clinical questions you’ll be asked during your CRNA School interview.
- Having this material fresh in your mind will make CRNA school didactics easier.
If you’re going to skip a step, skip the GRE. That’s only required or recommended by 60% of schools, and the content is mostly irrelevant to the practice of anesthesia.