1. Chojnowski, Donna MSN, CRNP

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Mandatory continuing education (CE) for maintaining RN licensure has become required by several state boards of nursing in the United States. For a list of state CE requirements for renewing RN and LPN licenses, refer to or your specific state's nursing license agency. The CE requirement for license renewal varies by amount and type of education. In some cases, requirements are impacted by practice hours.


Overall, the states requiring CE stipulate that it be completed during the designated time frame for the license active and expiration dates. The mandate for amount of contact hours varies. Generally, 1 contact hour equals 60 minutes of instruction, and 1 continuing education unit (CEU) equals 10 contact hours. Academic credit equivalent is based on the course classroom hours and not the number of credits.


The CE must meet certain guidelines relevant to nursing practice and pertain to expanding and utilizing the knowledge related to the biological, physical, social, and behavioral sciences. Refer to your state board of nursing guidelines for approved CE. Most states will accept advanced cardiac life support and advanced trauma life support courses once during the renewal period.


To search for CE opportunities, start with your employer. Membership in a professional nursing organization may provide reduced registration costs or free CE in journals or online. The organization's sponsored conferences and educational programs are usually accredited for CE that's accepted by nursing boards. Another option is online programs, but be sure to verify the type of CE is accepted. The same goes for industry sponsors. There are some states that allow you to submit a program you participated in that isn't accredited. The board will review whether it's acceptable, but a fee is usually required.


Maintaining the CE information for licensure should be an ongoing system:


* Keep a log of CE you attended/participated in with the name of the program, the date, CE contact hours/CEUs received, and the sponsor. Also, keep all relevant documents.


* Review annually to check that the CE hours you've accumulated complete the requirement before the renewal period ends.


* Consult with a tax preparer because you may be able to deduct your license fees and CE costs.



When the licensure renewal application arrives, you'll most likely be asked questions regarding the CE to attest to meeting the requirements for license renewal. You won't need to mail in your education log and documents unless requested. In most cases, the audits for this information are randomly selected. If you're audited, you'll need to provide all the documents requested within a certain time frame. Most states require you to maintain your CE documents for 5 to 7 years.


Although mandatory CE isn't required by all states for licensure renewal, the number of states with this legislation has grown and will probably continue to do so. Regardless, your professional license requires you to be responsible and knowledgeable about the duties you perform. As nurses, we must continue to expand our knowledge of evidence-based practice to provide safe, quality, up-to-date care.

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