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Nursing Continuing Education Credits: Frequently Asked Questions

One of the requirements of being in the nursing profession is ongoing education. This ensures that you remain up-to-date and knowledgeable about any and all industry changes so that you can continuously deliver optimal care to your patients.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly asked questions surrounding continuing education credits for nurses.

What are contact hours and continuing education units (CEUs)?

A contact hour consists of 50 or 60 minutes of instruction in a continuing education class or activity that is board-approved.

One CEU is equivalent to 10 contact hours. Most nursing continuing education courses and activities are measured by CEUs to make it easier for students to determine what they need and how much a particular activity or class is worth.

How do nurses earn continuing education (CE) credits?

Nurses seeking to earn CE credits can do so by attending certain designated events, such as conferences, seminars and workshops.

You may also earn CE credits by enrolling in online continuing education courses as well as various online nursing programs. For instance, all of the online medical certification courses offered through ProMed Certifications include a specified number of CEU credits.

What are class credits and CE requirements?

In many cases, college classes count toward a nurse’s continuing education CE requirements.

That is, of course, provided that the academic course you are taking is relevant to the nursing industry.

In terms of academic credits, one quarter hour is equivalent to 10 contact hours. One semester hour of academic credit is equivalent to 15 contact hours.

What, if any, non-nursing CE activities count toward continuing education requirements?

Most state boards will allow nurses to complete and receive CE credits for courses that are designed for other health care professionals.

A statement of explanation as to how the course relates to one’s nursing practice, however, is typically required in order to receive credit.

If you are, indeed, planning to participate in a course or activity that isn’t specifically designed for nurses, we recommend checking with the board of nursing in your state first to verify whether it will count toward CE requirements.

What activities don’t count?

Generally speaking, nursing continuing education requirements cannot be met by activities that are considered part of your normal daily job duties.

In other words, you typically cannot satisfy CE requirements with on-the-job clinical activities or by attending meetings and/or employee orientation events.

What CE programs are approved by state boards of nursing?

Most state nursing boards will accept a broad spectrum of continuing education activities in satisfaction of CE requirements.

Because each board operates independently, however, they may also have different approaches to determining approval.

We strongly recommend double checking with your specific state board to find out whether or not a particular nursing CE program will be accepted.

What do I do once I complete CEUs?

It’s not necessary to send CE records to the board of nursing, but since you will be required to do so if you ever get audited, it’s a wise idea to keep accurate records of any CE completion for at least two nursing license registration periods.

You may also wish to check with your state board to determine whether there are any record-keeping requirements that are specific to your state. CE activities are typically only reported to the state board of nursing at the time of license renewal.

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