Pass CCRN!: The Book

Selected an AJN Book of the Year 2007

Pass CCRN®!, Fourth Edition provides a selective but comprehensive review of critical care nursing. It is intended for registered nurses planning to take the CCRN® examination for certified critical care practice offered by American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) certification corporation.

Information is organized according to the current CCRN® examination blueprint. Only content included in the test blueprint is included in this book, eliminating extraneous information that is not likely to be tested. This book reviews critical content and provides learning activities to assist in learning key concepts. Approximately 1500 multiple-choice questions are provided through the Elsevier website so that test-taking skills can be practiced in the same method as testing occurs.

Teaching seminars to prepare nurses for this exam for the last 30 years has helped me learn what nurses need to prepare for this examination and the strengths and weakness of current books on the market for CCRN® examination preparation. My goal in writing this book was to help nurses prepare for the CCRN® by providing a pertinent content review, fun but challenging learning activities, realistic practice questions, and comprehensive practice examinations that reflect the content and complexity of the CCRN® examination.

Content Review

A succinct outline format is used and information is written in an easy to read, understand, and remember manner. Illustrations and tables further explain and clarify content. Figures and diagrams are used to visually illustrate key concepts to add to verbal explanations. Numerous tables organize information in an intelligent manner.

An anatomy and physiology review is included for each core body system. Though anatomy and physiology questions are unlikely to be on the examination, knowledge of anatomy and physiology is frequently helpful, if not essential, in correctly answering questions about assessment, intervention, or evaluation.

Assessment includes health history, physical assessment, diagnostic studies, and system-specific assessment such as hemodynamic monitoring and electrocardiography in the cardiovascular chapter, arterial blood gas interpretation in the pulmonary chapter, and intracranial pressure monitoring in the neurologic chapter.

Pathologic conditions listed on the CCRN® blueprint are included in the content review. Headings in this area are Definition, Etiology, Pathophysiology, Nursing Diagnoses, Clinical Presentation, and Collaborative Management. Collaborative Management includes medical and nursing management specific to the disease entity. Also included in this second edition is review of key content areas included in the new component of the test referred to as Professional Caring and Ethical Practice.


The 4rd edition has a new chapter on behavioral/psychosocial. This section was added to the CCRN® examination with the last blueprint revision.

Pharmacology content is now integrated with each system.

Learning Activities

Learning activities test recall, organize information in a new manner, and ask questions in a different manner. In his book A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oeck advocates changing the question to come up with the right answer or right answers. That is the basis for the learning activities. You will not see matching questions, essays, table completion, or crossword puzzles on the CCRN® examination.. They are used here to have you look at the information in a different way. I hope you will find the crossword puzzles and other activities a fun and helpful way to review terminology, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.

Review Questions

The review questions are written in the same format as the CCRN® examination. There are questions for each component of the blueprint. If you want to work on cardiovascular questions, choose cardiovascular from the quiz menu. You may also choose to take a practice exam. Again, these tests are in the same format as the examination and the content distribution is the same as identified on the CCRN® blueprint.

Answers and rationale are given for all practice questions. The rationale explains why the correct answer is the best answer. Most questions will also have a test-taking strategy described to show how to think through the question if you don’t know the content. Both of these will make you a better test-taker on the important day of the CCRN® examination. Analysis of your performance on the practice examinations will help you to focus your final preparation on your weak areas.


Critical care nursing has never been more exciting and challenging. For those of us who thrive on this excitement and challenge, keeping up with new developments, research, and clinical changes provides yet another challenge. This book provides a review of selected areas of critical care and is a ready resource for succinct summary of important content.

CCRN® certification is a prestigious and important credential to hold for those of us who specialize in critical care nursing. I believe that this book will prove to be your most valuable resource in preparing for the CCRN® examination. If you study the content and practice your test-taking skills, you will pass the examination. I would love to hear from you regarding your success with the test and your comments on how this book helped you or how you feel it could be more helpful. Good luck!

Robin Donohoe Dennison

Pass CCRN®!(click this link to Buy the Book from Elsevier with a 20% discount)