Like everything in nursing, continuing education (CE) requirements for Registered Nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) can seem confusing at first glance. However, the following guidance will make it easier to understand and to narrow down nursing CE requirements to renew your RN and NP licenses.
RN CE Requirements
The first step to learning about nursing CE requirements for your particular license is to visit your state Board of Nursing’s (BON) website and view the RN renewal requirements. If you are an RN, requirements vary greatly by state to renew licensure. If you are an NP, an active RN license is required, thus all RN requirements for licensure must also be fulfilled.
While looking on your State BON’s website, note the following:
- The number of years your RN license will be active
- The number of CE hours required for renewal
- Any special CE hours required for renewal
- The number of practice hours required for renewal
For example, on the Ohio BON Website, license renewal is valid for two years. The number of CE hours required for renewal are twenty-four, two hours must be specific to the Ohio Nurse Practice Code rules and regulations, and no work requirements are listed.
However, as mentioned before, requirements vary greatly. In eleven states, there are no CE requirements for renewal. Some require up to 36 CE hours, many require specific CE hours like pharmacology or substance abuse, and have work requirements. For the specific requirements of all 50 states and Guam, click here.
NP CE Requirements
The CE requirements for an NP are more complicated than that of an RN. One, because NPs must have an active RN license to renew an NP license, and two, because NPs hold national certifications with requirements governed by the certifying body, as well as, the BON.
- Therefore, to begin, the NP should follow the steps above to meet the CE requirements to renew her/his RN license.
- Next visit the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) section on the specific state BON website to seek further requirements for NP license renewal through the BON (for instance, the state BON might require specific CE hours for pharmacology to be completed because APRNs can prescribe medications).
- Then, the NP should visit the website through which she/he is certified to examine CE requirements. All certifying bodies are linked here. The certifying bodies require anywhere from 100-175 CE hours every five years.
- Most certifying bodies also require clinical work hours and if the provider is no longer clinical, requirements can be fulfilled through teaching, research, presentations, etc.
Each state BON requires a national certification verification to be sent annually. Therefore, NPs must always maintain their national certification to practice and in my opinion, the state BON relies heavily upon the national certifying body to set the standardized requirements for each APRN.
My Personal Example
To clarify further, I have outlined my personal example. The following are my requirements to maintain my RN/NP license in the state of Ohio and my Acute Care NP certification through the AACN.
- Every two years I renew my RN license through the BON in Ohio.
- This requires twenty-four CE hours, two of which are specific to Ohio nursing laws.
- Every two years I renew my NP license through the BON in Ohio.
- This requires that I be up to date with my RN license and my national certification through the AACN (renewal CE hours here are different than initial requirements for obtaining the license).
- Every five years I renew my Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certified – Adult Gerontology (ACNPC-AG) certification through the AACN.
- This requires 1000 hours of work as an NP.
- This requires 150 CE hours total.
- All 150 hours can be from formal learning like conferences, presentations, or online CE hours that are directly related to my area of practice, or additional advanced coursework, but 75 hours are absolutely required to be from the aforementioned formal learning.
- 25 of those must be pharmacology related.
- If I have remaining hours, they can be fulfilled by publishing, presenting, research, and many other activities.
- AMA PRA Category 1 Credits can be obtained and used toward NP and RN license renewal. Even though these are designed for physicians the conversion for NPs, is 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit = 1 CE hour.
- If you are no longer practicing as an NP, you are also able to recertify by retaking the certification exam and completing 150 CEs.
If you have not yet reached your renewal requirements and the deadline is approaching, consider using BoardVitals to fill the gap for your RN and NP requirements. Although the requirements may seem overwhelming, by knowing your state laws and certifying body requirements, you are sure to complete them accurately and on time.
BoardVitals offers contact hours for nursing specialties/certifications for the following:
- AANP Family Nurse Practitioner: 90.0 Contact Hours
- ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner: 90.0 Contact Hours
- Critical Care Nursing: 35 Contact Hours
- Pharmacology: 25 Contact Hours
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: 80 Contact Hours
BoardVitals offers CME activities accredited for up to 100 AMA PRA Category 1™ Credit(s) in more than 30 medical specialties including their CME Pro Plus activities for practitioners with CME allowances.