Continuing Education Guide


    Continuing Education Guide

    Becoming a nursing professional (whether it’s an LPN, RN, or advanced nurse practitioner) requires a strong educational foundation. Most nurses earn a bachelor’s or advanced degree and pass the required certification exams before ever seeing their first patient. But once you’ve put on your scrubs and entered the working world, the learning doesn’t stop.

    In fact, most states require nurses to complete some form of continuing education every two to three years as a condition of licensure. Even if your state board does not require any education for continuing competence for renewal, you may still be required by your employer or nursing association for job-specific certifications (i.e., nursing specialties, magnet hospitals, etc.). Specialty certifications such as medical-surgical, critical care, neonatal, etc. have specific requirements for continuing education. Make sure to check with your own hospital and any associations to which you may belong to find out if you have further requirements above and beyond that of your state nursing board.

    This guide will walk you through what you need to know about Continuing Education (CE) and the specific requirements for your state and type of license.

    Part OneCE, CNE, and CEUs - What are they and why do I need them?

    Let’s start with a quick explanation of what all those acronyms mean since you might be wondering if those terms can be used interchangeably.

    CE stands for Continuing Education. Most licensed professions require some form of continuing education.

    CNE is Continuing Nursing Education and refers to courses specifically for nursing professionals.

    CEUS or Continuing Education Units are also known as Continuing Education Credits. They reflect the time spent participating in educational courses or approved activities. One CEU is equal to 10 hours of instruction. The hours of instruction are called 'contact hours'.*

    * Contact hours refer to the stated amount of time an individual is present during a course. One contact hour can equal 50-60 minutes of class time depending on the state.

    Part TwoWhat are the requirements for CEUs in my state?

    Some states expect some portion of your continuing education to be on specific topics. The remaining hours can often be decided by you.

    For instance, in New York, nurses must take an Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse course and an Infection Control course as part of their hours. In Michigan, one hour of Pain Management education must be completed.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that CEUs must be earned within a specific renewal period as identified by your state. So if you need to earn a certain number of CEUs every two years, you can’t double up and apply extra hours to the following two years. They do not carry over.

    Continuing education requirements to maintain certification status through a professional association are usually separate from the state board’s requirements. In order for licensed nurses to maintain their certification status, most certifying organizations require that a portion of their CE program requirements receive approval through a specific peer review process. Check with the organization that provides your certification for additional information.

    Nursing CE Requirements by State

    State RNs NPs LPNs
    ALABAMA 24 contact hours every 2 years for RNs See Board of Nursing website 24contact hours every 2 years for LPNs
    ALASKA Every 2 years: 2 of the 3 are required for license renewal: 30 contact hours, OR 30 hours professional nursing activities, OR 320 hours nursing employment. Maintain national certification for each of the roles and population focus areas in which the applicant is seeking renewal; If the applicant holds prescriptive authority: 1) 12 contact hours of continuing education in advanced pharmacotherapeutics. 2) 12 contact hours of continuing education in clinical management of patients. Every 2 years: two of the following three are required for license renewal: 30 contact hours, OR 30 hours professional nursing activities, OR 320 hours nursing employment.
    ARIZONA No CE Required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    ARKANSAS 15 contact hours every 2 years OR hold a current nationally recognized certification/recertification OR complete one college credit hour course in nursing with a grade of 2.0 or above 15 contact hours every 2 years OR hold a current nationally recognized certification/recertification OR complete one college credit hour course in nursing with a grade of 2.0 or above. 15 contact hours every 2 years OR hold a current nationally recognized certification/recertification OR complete one college credit hour course in nursing with a grade of 2.0 or above
    CALIFORNIA 30 contact hours every two years. 30 contact hours every two years. 30 contact hours every two years.
    COLORADO No CE Required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    CONNECTICUT No CE Required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    DC 24 contact hours every 2 years. 24 contact hours every 2 years which includes 15 of the required 24 hours in pharmacology for the applicant's current area of practice. No CE Required.
    DELAWARE 30 contact hours every 2 years 30 contact hours every 2 years (for RN licensure) and 3 hours of substance abuse CE 24 contact hours every 2 years
    FLORIDA 24 contact hours of every 2 years: including 2 hours for medical errors, and 2 hours for FL Laws and Rules. 1 hour HIV/AIDS training (first renewal only.)2 additional hours of domestic violence CE every third renewal for a total of 26 hours. 27 hours of every 2 years: including 2 hours for medical errors, 2 hours for FL Laws and Rules, and 3 hours for Prescription of Controlled Substances. 1 hour HIV/AIDS training (first renewal only.) 2 additional hours of domestic violence CE every third renewal for a total of 29 hours. 24 hours of every 2 years: including 2 hours for medical errors, and 2 hours for FL Laws and Rules. 1 hour HIV/AIDS training (first renewal only.) 2 additional hours of domestic violence CE every third renewal for a total of 26 hours.
    GEORGIA Every 2 years, 5 different options - See State Board website. See state board website. Every 2 years, 5 different options - See State Board website.
    HAWAII Every 2 years, 5 different options - See State Board website. See state board website. Every 2 years, 5 different options - See State Board website.
    IDAHO No CE Required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    ILLINOIS 20 contact hours every two years. 50 contact hours every 2 years. 20 contact hours every two years.
    INDIANA No CE Required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    IOWA 36 contact hours every 3 years. RNs who regularly examine, attend, counsel or treat dependent adults or children must complete 2 contact hours of training related to child/dependent adult abuse. 36 contact hours every 3 years and maintain current certification in specialty. ARNPs who regularly examine, attend, counsel or treat dependent adults or children must also complete 2 contact hours of training related to child/dependent adult abuse. 36 contact hours every 3 years. LPNs who regularly examine, attend, counsel or treat dependent adults or children must complete 2 contact hours of training related to child/dependent adult abuse.
    KANSAS 30 contact hours every 2 years 30 contact hours every 2 years 30 contact hours every 2 years
    KENTUCKY 14 contact hours every year or other approved, equivalent activity. See requirements page for details 14 contact hours every year or other approved, equivalent activity. See requirements page for details 14 contact hours every year or other approved, equivalent activity. See requirements page for details
    LOUISIANA Every year: 5 contact hours with 1600 practice hours, OR 10 contact hours with 160 practice hours, OR 15 contact hours Every year: 5 contact hours with 1600 practice hours, OR 10 contact hours with 160 practice hours, OR 15 contact hours No CE Required.
    MAINE CE not required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    MARYLAND No CE required, but an approved refresher course is needed. No CE Required No CE Required.
    MASSACHUSETTS 15 contact hours every 2 years. 15 contact hours every 2 years and maintain current certification through a national certifying organization 15 contact hours every 2 years.
    MICHIGAN 25 contact hours every 2 years including 1 hour on pain and symptom management. 25 contact hours every 2 years including 1 hour on pain and symptom management. 25 contact hours every 2 years including 1 hour on pain and symptom management.
    MINNESOTA 24 contact hours every 2 years 24 contact hours every 2 years (for RN licensure) and maintain licensure as an APRN through a national certifying body 12 contact hours every 2 years
    MISSISSIPPI CE not required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    MISSOURI CE not required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    MONTANA 24 contact hours every 2 years. See state board website. 24 contact hours every 2 years.
    NEBRASKA 20 contact hours every 2 years, plus 500 practice hours every 5 years. 40 contact hours every 2 years plus 2,080 hours of practice every five years. 20 contact hours every 2 years, plus 500 practice hours every 5 years.
    NEVADA 30 hours every two years. including the state-required bioterrorism course. 30 contact hours every two years. including the state-required bioterrorism course. Additional 15 contact hours directly related to specialty and 15 contact hours in pharmacology. 30 contact hours every two years. including the state-required bioterrorism course.
    NEW HAMPSHIRE 30 contact hours every 2 years and 400 practice hours every 4 years. 60 contact hours including 30 hours in specialty certification and 5 hours of Pharmacology AND 400 practice hours every 4 years. 30 contact hours every 2 years and 400 practice hours every 4 years.
    NEW JERSEY 30 contact hours every 2 years. 30 contact hours every 2 years. 30 contact hours every 2 years.
    NEW MEXICO 30 contact hours every 2 years 30 contact hours every two years (for RN licensure) plus 20 additional contact hours for CNP/CNS license. LPNs are required to complete 30 hours of approved CE within the 24 months immediately preceding expiration of license.
    NEW YORK 3 contact hours infection control every 4 years; 2 contact hours child abuse (one time requirement for initial license). 3 contact hours infection control every 4 years; 2 contact hours child abuse (one time requirement for initial license). Maintain specialty certification. 3 contact hours infection control every 4 years.
    NORTH CAROLINA One of the following every two years: 15 contact hours and 640 hours of active practice, OR National certification or re-certification, OR 30 contact hours, OR completion of refresher course. Completion 2 semester hours of post-licensure academic education, OR 15 contact hours plus various other nursing-related activities. See website for further details Varies based on specialty. See website for further details One of the following every two years: 15 contact hours and 640 hours of active practice, OR National certification or re-certification, OR 30 contact hours, OR completion of refresher course. Completion 2 semester hours of post-licensure academic education, OR 15 contact hours plus various other nursing-related activities.See website for further details
    NORTH DAKOTA 12 contact hours every two years. 12contact hours every two years. 12contact hours every two years.
    OHIO 24contact hours every 2 years. Variesbased on Certification. See website. 24contact hours every 2 years.
    OKLAHOMA 24 contact hours every 2 years. See state board website. 24 contact hours every 2 years.
    OREGON One-time requirement for 7 hours of pain management-related CE. One hour must be a course to be provided by the Oregon Pain Management Commission . Once this requirement is fulfilled, there is no additional CE requirements for renewal. One-time requirement for 7 hours of pain management-related CE. One hour must be a course to be provided by the Oregon Pain Management Commission . Once this requirement is fulfilled, there is no additional CE requirements for renewal. One-time requirement for 7 hours of pain management-related CE. One hour must be a course to be provided by the Oregon Pain Management Commission . Once this requirement is fulfilled, there is no additional CE requirements for renewal.
    PENNSYLVANIA 30 contact hours every two years. 30 contact hours every two years. For Prescriptive Authority, 16 of the 30 hours of Board-approved CE in pharmacology. No CE Required.
    RHODE ISLAND 10 contact hours every 2 years including 2 hours of substance abuse CE 10 contact hours every 2 years including 2 hours of substance abuse CE 10 contact hours every 2 years including 2 hours of substance abuse CE
    SOUTH CAROLINA 30 contact hours every 2 years. May also show proof of competence by maintenance of certification by a national certifying body, completion of an academic program, or employer certification 30 contact hours every 2 years. May also show proof of competence by maintenance of certification by a national certifying body, completion of an academic program, or employer certification 30 contact hours every 2 years. May also show proof of competence by maintenance of certification by a national certifying body, completion of an academic program, or employer certification
    SOUTH DAKOTA CE not required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    TENNESSEE 5 contact hours every year for practicing nurses.Must be accompanied by two documents verifying competence or 10 contact hours annually for those not practicing and one additional document verifying competence 5 contact hours every year for practicing nurses and two additonal contact hours on controlled substance prescribing practices. One additional document to prove competence. 5 contact hours for practicing nurses accompanied by two documents verifying competence or 10 contact hours for those not practicing and one additional document verifying competence
    TEXAS 20 contact hours every 2 years. Several mandatory CE requirements such as Nursing Jurisprudence, Ethics, Geriatric Care, and Forensic Collection 20 contact hours every 2 years. Several mandatory CE requirements such as Nursing Jurisprudence, Ethics, Geriatric Care, and Forensic Collection 20 contact hours every 2 years. Several mandatory CE requirements such as Nursing Jurisprudence, Ethics, Geriatric Care, and Forensic Collection
    UTAH One of the following every 2 years: 30 contact hours, OR 200 practice hours and 15 contact hours, OR 400 practice hours. One of the following every 2 years: 30 contact hours, OR 200 practice hours and 15 contact hours, OR 400 practice hours. APRN's must also complete 8 hours of medication-related CE. One of the following every 2 years: 30 contact hours, OR 200 practice hours and 15 contact hours, OR 400 practice hours.
    VERMONT No CE Required - Active Practice requirement. See state board website. No CE Required - Active Practice requirement.
    VIRGINIA 15 contact hours every 2 years. See state board website. 15 contact hours every 2 years.
    WASHINGTON 45 hours of CE Every 3 years. See state board website. 45 hours of CE Every 3 years.
    WEST VIRGINIA 12 contact hours every year. Must include best prescribing and drug diversion training if licensee prescribes, administers, or dispenses controlled substances. Also mandatory training for mental health conditions common to veterans and their families 24 hours every two years with 12 hours in pharmacotherapeutics and 12 hours in the clinical management of patients. 12 of these hours may count toward CE requirement for RN license. 24 contact hours every two years.
    WISCONSIN CE not required. No CE Required. No CE Required.
    WYOMING One of the following: 500 practice hours in the last 2 years, 1600 practice hours in the last 5 years, 20 contact hours in the last 2 years, Completion of a refresher course in the last 5 years, Certification in a specialty area of nursing practice by a national accrediting agency in the last 5 years, Pass the NCLEX in the last 5 years. One of the following: Current National Certification OR 60 contact hours every 2 years AND 400 hours of employment as an APRN in specialty of advanced practice Prescriptive Authority: 5 contact hours every 2 years in pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, or drug therapy. One of the following: 500 practice hours in the last 2 years 1600 practice hours in the last 5 years 20 contact hours in the last 2 years Completion of a refresher course in the last 5 years Certification in a specialty area of nursing practice by a national accrediting agency in the last 5 years, Pass the NCLEX in the last 5 years.

    Part ThreeWhat is ANCC Approved CE?

    As mentioned briefly in Part One, CEUs refer to a unit of credit equal to 10 hours of participation in an educational course or approved activity. The key here is choosing approved or accredited programs. In order for a CEU to count toward your required hours, it must be administered by an approved CE provider. Usually, if it’s nursing CE coursework from a college or university or a nursing school, you should have no issues with having such credits approved. However, the study hours must be related to nursing in some way, so taking a liberal arts course, for example, wouldn’t count.

    The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is the organization that sets the standards for nursing board certification and is recognized by all state boards of nursing. Taking ANCC-approved courses not only boosts your earning potential, it also ensures that you’re able to stay on top of the latest advances in the profession and provide your patients with the best care.

    Directory of State Nursing Boards

    State State Board Homepage Phone
    ALABAMA Alabama Board of Nursing (334) 242-4060
    ALASKA Alaska Board of Nursing (907) 269-8160
    ARIZONA Arizona Board of Nursing (602) 771-7800
    ARKANSAS Arkansas State Boarding of Nursing (501) 686-2700
    CALIFORNIA California Board of Registered Nursing (916) 322-3350
    COLORADO Colorado Board of Nursing (303) 894-2430
    CONNECTICUT Connecticut Nursing Licensure (860) 509-7603
    DC DC Board of Nursing (202) 724-4900
    DELAWARE Delaware Board of Nursing (302) 744-4516
    FLORIDA Florida Board of Nursing (850) 488-0595
    GEORGIA Georgia Board of Nursing (478) 207-1300
    HAWAII Hawaii Board of Nursing (808) 586-2695
    IDAHO Idaho Board of Nursing (208) 334-3110
    ILLINOIS Illinois Center for Nursing (888) 687-7307
    INDIANA Indiana State Board of Nursing (317) 234-2043
    IOWA Iowa Board of Nursing (515) 281-3255
    KANSAS Kansas Board of Nursing (785) 296-4929
    KENTUCKY Kentucky Board of Nursing (502) 429-3300
    LOUISIANA Louisiana State Board of Nursing (504) 838-5332
    MAINE Maine State Board of Nursing (207) 287-1133
    MARYLAND Maryland Board of Nursing (410) 585-1900
    MASSACHUSETTS Massachusetts Board of Nursing (617) 727-3074
    MICHIGAN Michigan Board of Nursing (517) 335-0918
    MINNESOTA Minnesota Board of Nursing (612) 617-2270
    MISSISSIPPI Mississippi Board of Nursing (601) 987-4188
    MISSOURI Missouri Board of Nursing (406) 841-2340
    MONTANA Montana Board of Nursing (406) 444-2071
    NEBRASKA Nebraska Board of Nursing (402) 471-4376
    NEVADA Nevada State Board of Nursing (702) 486-5800
    NEW HAMPSHIRE New Hampshire Board of Nursing (603) 271-2323
    NEW JERSEY New Jersey Board of Nursing (973) 504-6430
    NEW MEXICO New Mexico Board of Nursing (505) 841-8340
    NEW YORK New York Board of Nursing (518) 474-3817 Ext 390
    NORTH CAROLINA North Carolina Board of Nursing (919) 782-3211
    NORTH DAKOTA North Dakota Board of Nursing (701) 328-9778
    OHIO Ohio Board of Nursing (614) 466-3947
    OKLAHOMA Oklahoma Board of Nursing (405) 962-1800
    OREGON Oregon State Board of Nursing (971) 673-0685
    PENNSYLVANIA Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing (717) 783-7142
    RHODE ISLAND Rhode Island Nursing Licensure (401) 222-5960
    SOUTH CAROLINA South Carolina Board of Nursing (803) 896-4550
    SOUTH DAKOTA South Dakota Board of Nursing (605) 362-2760
    TENNESSEE Tennessee Board of Nursing (615) 532-5166
    TEXAS Texas Board of Nursing (512) 305-7400
    UTAH Utah Nursing Licensure (801) 530-6628
    VERMONT Vermont Nursing Licensure (802) 828-2396
    VIRGINIA Virginia Board of Nursing (804) 662-9909
    WASHINGTON Washington Board of Nursing (360) 236-4700
    WEST VIRGINIA West Virginia Board of Nursing (304) 558-3596
    WISCONSIN Wisconsin Nursing Licensure (608) 266-2112
    WYOMING Wyoming State Board of Nursing (307) 777-7601

    Part FourWhat is the easiest way to fulfill my CE requirements?

    With a busy nursing work schedule, fitting in CNE might seem like quite the challenge. However, you generally have a reasonable period of time to complete your requirements, so you can space out the hours in a manageable way.

    If you’re employed by a large hospital and are part of a union, it’s quite possible that your employer will offer free continuing education courses at your facility. Check with your employer to see if any such opportunities are offered.

    If you’re completing your CEUs independently, there are many options for completing CE hours online or at your own pace. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Commission on Nurse Certification lists nationally accredited CE providers on its website.

    Fun Ways to Complete Your CEUs

    Before you start dreading the idea of having to take classes for the rest of your career, you should know that CE classes can also be a lot of fun. Some smart nurses combine their CE hours with their vacations in order to get the most out of the time they spend away from the hospital. There are also a handful of CE providers that offer their CE seminars in the form of cruises or tropical getaways.

    Seminars and other professional development events are also a great way to network or scope out travel nursing locations and opportunities.

    Again, just be sure to double check with your state board before you sign up for courses from an unfamiliar provider. The few minutes it will take to confirm that a course is accepted is worth the time and money you save on one that doesn’t count towards fulfilling your CE requirement.

    Part FivePaying for CE

    Large hospitals and unions know that it is in their best interests to make sure their nurses are up-to-date on the latest therapies and technologies. Therefore, your employer may pay to send you to conferences and training sessions that can help fulfill your CEU requirements. Check with your employer to see if these benefits are offered.

    Even if your hospital does not pay for your CEUs, they can usually be completed without having to spend a large sum of money. Some hours can be completed at no cost, or for nominal fees (under $50). Some providers offer the option to pay a flat fee to take as many courses as you’d like.

    Remember though, you often get what you pay for and many of the best learning experiences can be expensive. It should be noted that no matter how much you spend, CEUs can usually be written off as a tax-deduction when you file your tax returns. See IRS Publication 970 for detailed information on claiming this deduction.

    In the end, if you’re still having trouble getting funding for a continuing education course, consider applying for various continuing education or professional development scholarships.

    Part SixHow do I get credit for my work?

    After completing CE hours, you want to be sure that your time and effort will be recorded properly. Usually, the provider will give you a certificate of attendance. If it’s done online, you will likely receive an electronic notification that you completed the course, but you can request a hard copy as well. In most cases, the acronym BRN should appear on the completion certificate, signifying that it is an approved “Board of Registered Nursing” continuing education provider.

    Be sure to keep paperwork or digital copies of your CE completion records for a few years in case your credentials are ever audited.

    Keeping your RN and specialty nursing licenses up to date is something that all nurses have to do in order to keep working in the field. However, don’t overlook the other benefits that CEUs can provide, namely staying on the cutting edge of new innovations in the industry so you can thrive professionally. In other words, choose your CE hours carefully so that you can get the most out of the experience, whether it’s networking with fellow RNs at a conference or learning a new skill that can be directly applied in your day-to-day job.

    Nursing Scholarship