The healthcare landscape continues to change. New medical discoveries, shifting priorities and technological breakthroughs mean that healthcare providers are constantly trying to adapt. Because HCPs must ensure that their patients are getting the best care available to them, continuous nursing education is required in many areas. Constant, evidence-based education allows nurses to stay sharp and updated.. For nurses who want a long and fruitful career, keeping up with your Continuing Education (or CE) credits is essential.
Whether or not Continuing Education for Nurses is required can vary from state-to-state. Nurses need to renew their certifications periodically, if they want to keep work in a healthcare setting. Some states require a certain amount of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) before your certification is renewed. One nursing CEU makes up 10 contact hours, which are 50-60 minutes of instruction in a board-approved nursing CE class or activity.
Specific CE requirements can vary, depending on both state and levels of nursing degrees. In California, for example, RNs, LPNs and APRNs are required to complete 30 contact hours every two years. Conversely, RNs and LPNs do not need contact hours in Connecticut, while APRNs have to complete 50 within the licensure period. For your convenience, we have listed the nursing CEU requirements for 10 different states.
Meanwhile, CNA continuing education requirements tend to be less, if there are any at all.
Be sure to look up CE requirements for your nursing degree level, in your area.
Whether you are in a traditional school, or taking your Nursing CEUs online, you want to make sure you are getting the best possible education. If you want to make sure you are meeting your Nursing CEU requirements, you have to make sure that your provider is accredited. This is no issue if you are getting nursing education from traditional universities or nursing schools. If you are taking your units online, you want your course to be approved by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Since they set nursing certification standards for all state boards, taking ANCC courses will ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest advances in healthcare. You can find ANCC and CNC accredited providers on their respective websites.
Fitting in continuous education for nurses with your busy work schedule may seem daunting at first. As long as you space out the hours within the licensure period, you should be able to complete your requirements without much stress.
As for paying for your nursing CEUs, this is normally not an issue. Large hospitals with unions tend to cover the costs of CEU programs like conferences and training sessions themselves. Even if these benefits are not available to you, there are a host of affordable options. There are free Nursing CEU programs online, programs who charge nominal fees and providers who charge flat fees for unlimited courses. That being said, the highest quality programs still tend to be quite expensive. If you cannot secure funding for a quality CE program, there is always the option of applying for CE/professional development scholarships.
Upon certification renewal, you have to show proof that you have completed your nursing education requirements. Programs tend to give out certificates of attendance. Online courses will send notifications, but you can also request hard copies. As you study, make sure that you keep relevant CE completion records in a safe and secure place. Even after renewal, you still want to keep relevant paperwork or digital copies, in case your credentials are audited.
Continuing education for nurses may seem daunting at first, but the benefits and opportunities are endless. As the nursing world continues to change, you want to be on top of all the latest developments and changes. Some of these programs may even give you a brand new perspective on the healthcare industry. Provided that you stay consistent, keeping up with your requirements can become a rich and rewarding experience, rather than a chore.