Oncology nurse asks: Can I take my CCRN?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am in oncology med surg unit. Can I take CCRN when I work there for 1750 hours? Or what other certificates/exams I can take in the future?

    Dear I Work Med-Surg, Can I Take the CCRN Exam?,

    It's a really good idea on your part to explore your certification options. While you may not qualify for your CCRN (depending on your clinical hours and clinical setting), you have a couple other options because you practice in Medical-Surgical Oncology.


    You can take one of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) provider courses to earn your provider card- ONS offers two courses that result in issuing a two year chemotherapy/biotherapy provider card. This is not a certification, but a provider card, much like BLS and ACLS are provider cards.

    ONS aligns with the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) to offer the Oncology Nurse Certification (ONC). They require a pre-determined amount of clinical practice hours. To see if you are eligible for the ONC, you can input your clinical hours of experience with oncology patients into their online calculator.


    Since you are on a Med-Surg unit, you may be eligible for the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) credential, recognized by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). Eligibility for CMSRN includes:

    • RN with a current US license
    • and practiced 2 years as an RN in a medical-surgical setting
    • and accrued 2,000 hours of practice within past 3 years

    Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) Certification

    From the AACN website:
    "CCRN certification helps you maintain an up-to-date knowledge base of acute and critical care nursing. In addition to providing you with a sense of professional pride and achievement, CCRN certification reinforces the special knowledge and experiences required for acute and critical care nursing. Research studies link higher levels of clinical knowledge, skill and experience with CCRN certification."

    CCRN eligibility includes:

    Option 1: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients during the previous 2 years, with 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application.

    Option 2: Practice as an RN or APRN for at least 5 years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application.

    So unless you have recently been practicing in critical care or with critically ill populations, you will not qualify to sit for the CCRN.

    To prepare for a certification exam, take advantage of the test review questions offered on the individual sites. It's also helpful to attend a review course which prepares you for the examination.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

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