Nursing is a continuously changing field that requires nurses to renew their skills and update their knowledge with regard to advances in both practice and technology. Many states also require nurses to enroll in continuing education coursework in order to renew their license. Different states will usually have different continuing education requirements related to license renewal.
What Entails Continuing Education?
Contact Hours: A contact hour may be defined as 50 continuous clock minutes of participation in approved continuing education coursework or related activities (e.g. advanced clinical training to transition into a new specialty area).
Continuing Education Units: One continuing education unit (CEU) equals 10 contact hours. Most nurse continuing education coursework is measured in CEUs the nurse’s progress in meeting state board regulations. As an example, three classes that total 30 contact hours provide the equivalent of 3 CEUs.
Advantages of RN Continuing Education Courses
While nurse continuing education coursework is necessary in many states in order to renew nursing licenses, there are several additional advantages to participating in such classes. For example, a master’s degree can lead to career advancement and higher salaries (and master’s level coursework does count toward the continuing education requirements).
Beyond career advancement, continuing education will allow you to remain knowledgeable with regard to new developments in the healthcare field and keep current with technological advances. For example, the specialties of nurse informatics, critical care nursing, and intensive care nursing are continuously undergoing advances in practice and technology and it benefits you to remain aware of these changes so you may provide quality care.
State-board Approved Nursing Continuing Education Coursework
Most State Boards of Nursing will accept a wide range of coursework and training activities to fulfill continuing education requirements as long as these are related to the nursing profession. However, because specific requirements do vary it is best to contact your State Board to determine specific criteria. You may find contact information for your State board by visiting the Web site of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (ncnbn.org/board). State boards will also typically permit nurses to take coursework in related fields provided you can show how these classes relate to your specialty area. Check with your State Board before enrolling in any of this coursework.
In general, the continuing education requirement may not be satisfied by any courses or activities that are directly related to your nursing job description. This means that you cannot fulfill continuing education requirements by providing direct patient care, participating in in-serve training or workshops, participating in the formulation of policy and procedures directly related to your role, or attending department meetings.
Registered nurses will not need to submit proof of continuing education credits unless they are being audited by their state board or renewing their nursing license. Check with your state board to determine the renewal period. Although you do not need to submit proof of continuing education coursework except under special circumstances, it is wise to keep accurate records of all CEUs completed during the past two years.
RN Continuing Education Courses
Nursing Continuing Education Coursework can include a variety of classes, from emergency nursing, home health nursing, pediatrics, psychiatric/mental health nursing, gerontology, nurse informatics, etc. Options include taking a refresher course in your area of specialty to participation in a master’s or post-masters program.
Options for RN Continuing Education Courses
Nurse Continuing Education Coursework is offered in diverse formats such as seminars, workshops, conferences, or classes offered by nursing schools. Continuing education coursework may be completed within traditional campus-based programs or via distance learning programs. Online study offers a convenient option for working nurses who are juggling multiple responsibilities to meet continuing education requirements. Online courses may involved only a few hours per week if taking one or two classes, or one to two years if enrolled n a master’s or post-master’s program.
Regardless of the format in which you take continuing education credits you want to ensure that the credits are approved by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) an arm of the American Nurses Association. In most cases, courses approved by the ANCC will be accepted by your state board.
RNs Continuing Education Courses for Advanced Practice Nurses
Registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), associate’s degree in nursing (ADN/ASN), or diploma in nursing may pursue a master’s degree within a traditional classroom program or via distance learning. A master’s degree will permit nurses to assume the role of Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN). Advanced practice nurses include nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), nurse midwife (NCM), and nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Most master degree programs may be completed in eighteen to twenty four months of full time study or three to four years of pat time study. Coursework taken as part of the master’s program will fulfill continuing education requirements. Typical master’s coursework includes;
- Clinical pharmacology
- Advanced clinical practice in patient care
- Holistic nursing
- Nursing theory and practice
- Health care policy and planning
- Health economics
- Nursing Leadership and Administration
- Health assessment and treatment planning
- Patient care management
- Medical ethics
- Patient and family education in preventative care and disease management