While nearly any nurse will tell you how important continuing education is to a healthy nursing practice, not all states have the same requirements. In fact, most states differ dramatically from nearby states in their requirements. Therefore, as soon as you receive your initial license, you must know what you will have to do in the succeeding years in order to renew at the right time.
States Requiring No Continuing Education
Although continuing nursing education is important no matter what state you practice in, some states do not require proof of your CEUs in order to renew your nursing license. This currently includes the following states.
States Requiring CEUs
All other states have specific requirements for continuing nursing education although the number of hours can vary dramatically from 12 contact hours every two years in North Dakota to 30 contact hours every two years in numerous states. You must earn your contact hours in the correct two years. For example, if you have completed more hours than necessary in the previous two years, you cannot roll them over into the upcoming years. This requirement ensures that you are constantly learning and staying up-to-date with evolving health care practices.
Besides these requirements, there are a few other facts you should know about continuing education to ensure that you are not faced with any surprises when renewing your license. First, if you hold a nursing license in more than one state and wish to keep both licenses up-to-date, you will need to meet the requirements of both states. However, if you are practicing in a compact state as a travel nurse or as a nurse who lives just over the state’s border, you will only need to meet the requirements of the state in which you hold your license rather than those of the state in which you practice.
Second, be sure that you look into specific requirements for your state. Some states require regular CE classes on specific topics, such as infection control or pain control. The following are just a few of the many examples.
-Florida requires two hours on medical errors and one hour on HIV/AIDS.
-Michigan requires one hour on pain management.
-Nevada requires a bio-terrorism course.
-Oregon requires a one-time pain management course.
-Texas requires several specific courses, including geriatric care.
Third, keep in mind that some states also require a certain number of practice hours in order to renew your license. Therefore, depending on your state of residency, you may need to do more than just complete a few classes if you are not a regularly practicing RN or LPN.
Finally, any additional professional organizations that you are a part of may have additional requirements for CEUs. Be sure to look into this as soon as you receive your accreditation so that you get a head start.
Of course, the best place to verify any information about continuing education for nurses is with your specific state’s Board of Nursing, which can often be accessed online. This is where you will be able to find the most accurate and up-to-date information as well as specifics about which classes or topics are required for licensure renewal.