How to Make Sure You’re Following Nursing CEU Requirements
Before you can complete your CEU requirements as a nurse, you have to understand them. And in order to do that, you may have to perform a bit of research. If that’s what you’re here for, you’ve come to the right place – below is an overview of nursing CEU requirements for nurses in any state.
They may seem complicated at first, but nursing CEU requirements really aren’t that hard to grasp once you get the big picture. There are a few key pieces of information you need to know; after that, the rest of the pieces tend to fall into place. For example, you could find out that state-specific nursing CEUs are available online from sites like Nursing CE Central, and realize that you may not actually have to search the four corners of the earth for relevant, accredited courses.
When in doubt, check with the state board of nursing
After all, the state board of nursing is the reason why you’re taking CEU courses in the first place. They establish the license renewal periods, decide how many contact hours nurses should complete, and pick which courses get approved as CEUs. If you ever have a question about how to document something, whether or not a course is approved, or any other matter, the state board of nursing should have an answer. Side note: the ANCC also issues accreditation for courses and providers, but they don’t have the same regulatory power as the state board of nursing.
Don’t confuse contact hours with CEUs
This is actually a pretty common mistake; for some reason, people use the terms “contact hours” and “CEU” as if they mean the same thing. In reality, they’re two different ways of describing credit that’s issued for completing a course. Since 10 contact hours equal one CEU, a course that offers 20 contact hours is worth 2 CEUs, and so on.
This distinction is also helpful when you’re looking at requirements posted by the state board of nursing, which are listed as contact hours. Then, when you’re viewing courses from providers that are listed as CEUs per course, you won’t be confused by the apparent disparities.
Nurses are required to maintain records of completed CEUs
Each state has its own requirements for how long you should maintain these records, but one requirement stays consistent between them all – you have to do it. This is the information you should hold on to:
- Provider name
- Date you completed the course
- Course title
- Course identification number
- Number of CEUs awarded
As long as this information stays on file for the specified amount of time, you get to choose how you record it. You could go the old-fashioned route with accordion files, you could put everything into a spreadsheet, or you could enter the data into an app designed to track CEU course credits.
Don’t just be on time; be early
This isn’t exactly a requirement, but it can be a piece of lifesaving advice. Why? Because missing the license renewal period deadline will get you a lot more than a slap on the wrist.
If you’re registered in a state that mandates CEUs for nurses, you have to abide by a specific license renewal period. If you don’t complete the required CEUs by the deadline, your license will be revoked. This will affect not only your registration status, but also your job, as healthcare organizations can’t keep nurses with expired licenses on the payroll.
If this happens, the next step would be to comply with CEU requirements, and present the appropriate documentation to the state board of nursing – along with an appeal to reinstate your nursing license. The best-case scenario would be that they grant your request, and you can hopefully pick back up where you left off. This isn’t a given, however; you might be required to take the licensing exam all over again in order to get your license back.
As if that weren’t reason enough to avoid procrastination, there’s the matter of being able to pick courses that are actually relevant. If you start taking CEU courses early on in the license renewal period, you may have less competition. More courses will still have enrollment slots available, so you’ll be able to choose courses that would build on your skills and specialties, instead of taking CEUs just to say that you took them. Wait until the last minute, though, and you might not be as happy with your options.
Remember that employers can require CEUs too
There are 11 states that don’t mandate CEUs for nurses, but this doesn’t mean that nurses in those states are off the hook. Continuing education is still vital for anyone working in healthcare-related organizations, so some of these facilities have their own policies requiring nurses to complete CEU courses.
Look up state-specific regulations
Unless you know what your state requires specifically, you can’t be sure that you’re completing your CEUs correctly. Not only do the states vary in length of license renewal period, but they also have different deadlines, different numbers of required contact hours, and more. A few states even dictate that a certain amount of contact hours be dedicated to specific subjects, such as ethics, pain management, or sexual harassment.
They also vary in the types of courses that are approved as CEUs. For example, North Carolina lets nurses accrue contact hours by publishing their work in a peer-reviewed journal, or by teaching nursing-related courses. In Alaska, nurses are able to earn credit by volunteering for specified activities. Other states provide selective accreditation for seminars, conferences, workshops, and similar courses. With all these differences from state to state, it’s worth reiterating: if you aren’t sure, check with the state board of nursing. They may not state everything clearly from the beginning, but they should be able to provide clarification for your questions.
Becoming a nurse isn’t easy, and staying a nurse takes work too. With enough planning and forethought, though, keeping on top of CEU requirements should eventually feel considerably less intimidating.