Do I Need to Take Nursing CE?

Do I Need to Take Nursing CE

Let’s face it… You have to study a LOT to become a nurse. 

You have to finish your nursing education program and study for your exams. 

And even after you become a nurse, there’s talk about continuing education for nurses. 

You may start to wonder, “Does the learning ever end? Do I need to take nursing CE?”

Well, we’re here to answer that and show you why this is an important part of your nursing journey. 

We’ll also answer a few related questions. 

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Do I Need to Take Nursing CE?

The quick answer is yes!

Although there are foundational nursing skills that are here to stay, the nursing field is also advancing. 

Whether you are an LPN, RN, or APRN, there is always new research going on and new things to learn. 

Medicines and medical technology are always developing. Standards and procedures keep changing. New laws may be created to govern the nursing practice.

Some treatments or procedures we learned a few years ago may be phased out by now. 

So if you want to stay relevant and safe on the job, you need to continually update yourself. This is why nursing CE is crucial. 

Aside from that, you also need to renew your nursing license every few years.

Most states require you to achieve a certain number of contact hours for continuing education. Some even specify the specific courses you should take to renew your license. 

And even in the states where continuing education is not required, employers may be looking for specific skills and updated practices from their employees. 

Let’s just face it… the more training you have, the more likely you are to land a job! And the more opportunity you have for bigger salaries. 

We’ll talk a bit more about the CE requirements for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs.

However, even if your state does not require CE, it should be clear by now that continuing education is important, for you as a professional and for your patients.

What are the CE Requirements in My State? 

It is your state’s board of nursing that determines how many contact hours of continuing education you need to take. 

A contact hour usually refers to 50-60 minutes of approved training. 

Here is a table to guide you, based on your state:

State
(Board of Nursing)
Renewal PeriodLPN CE RequirementsRN CE RequirementsAPRN CE Requirements
Alabama (Board of Nursing)2 years24 contact hours 24 contact hours 24 contact hours (6 in pharmacology)
Alaska (Board of Nursing )2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available) 30 contact hours (alternate routes available) 30 contact hours (alternate routes available) 
Arizona State (Board of Nursing)4 yearsNo CE required, but has other practice requirementsNo CE required, but has other practice requirementsMaintain national certification; those with DEA licenses need 3 hours of drug-related CE
Arkansas State (Board of Nursing)2 years15 contact  hours15 contact hours15 contact hours (plus 5 in pharmacology if with prescriptive authority)
California (Board of Registered Nursing) 2 years30 contact hours30 contact hoursNo additional CE requirements beyond the 30 hours needed for RN renewal
Colorado (Board of Nursing)2 yearsNoneNoneMaintain national certification plus 2 contact hours of substance use prevention training for those with prescriptive authority
Connecticut (Board of Nursing)every year2 contact hours on screening for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide, depression and grief, and suicide prevention training2 contact hours on screening for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide, depression and grief, and suicide prevention training50 contact hours
Delaware (Board of Nursing)2 years24 contact hours30 contact hoursNo additional CE requirements beyond the 30 hours needed for RN renewal
Florida (Board of Nursing)2 years24 contact hours (with specified courses)24 contact hours (with specified courses)24 contact hours (with specified courses)
Georgia (Board of Nursing)2 years20 contact hours 30 contact hours (alternate routes available)No additional CE requirements beyond the 30 hours needed for RN renewal
Hawaii (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)
Idaho (Board of Nursing) 2 years15 contact hours (alternate routes available)15 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (10 in pharmacology if with prescriptive authority)
Illinois (Board of Nursing) 2 years20 contact hours20 contact hours80 contact hours (50 in field of practice; 20 in pharmacotherapeutics; 10 in safe opioid prescription)
Indiana State (Board of Nursing)2 yearsnonenone30 contact hours (8 in pharmacology)
Iowa (Board of Nursing)3 years36 contact hours36 contact hoursMaintain RN license and national certification
Kansas (Nursing Board)2 years30 contact hours30 contact hours30 contact hours
Kentucky (Board of Nursing)every year14 contact hours14 contact hoursMaintain RN license + 5 contact hours of pharmacology
Louisiana State (Board of Nursing)2 yearsvaries30 contact hours (alternate routes available)Maintain RN license + 6 hours of pharmacotherapeutics
Maine State (Board of Nursing)2 yearsnonenoneMaintain national certification+50 contact hours 
Maryland (Board of Nursing )2 yearsNonenoneMaintain national certification
Massachusetts (Board of Registration in Nursing)2 years15 contact hours15 contact hoursMaintain national certification + 15 contact hours
Michigan (Board of Nursing) 2 years25 contact hours (with 2 in pain and symptom management)25 contact hours (with 2 in pain and symptom management)Maintain RN license + maintain national certification
Minnesota (Board of Nursing)2 years12 contact hours24 contact hoursMaintain national certification + 2 hours of prescribing opioids if with prescriptive authority
Mississippi (Board of Nursing)2 years20 contact hours20 contact hours40 contact hours (10 specific to controlled substances)
Missouri (Nursing Board)2 yearsNone noneMaintain national certification
Montana (Board of Nursing) 2 years24 contact hours24 contact hours24 contact hours (12 in pharmacotherapeutics)
Nebraska (Board of Nursing)2 years20 contact hours20 contact hours40 contact hours
Nevada State (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours30 contact hours30 contact hours + 15 hours directly related to speciality
New Hampshire (Board of Nursing) 2 years30 contact hours30 contact hours60 contact hours
New Jersey (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours30 contact hours30 contact hours (6 in pharmacology)
New Mexico (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours30 contact hours50 contact hours (with specifications per specialty)
New York (Board of Nursing)3 yearsInfection control coursework every 4 yearsInfection control coursework every 4 yearsMaintain RN license + national certification
North Carolina (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)50 contact hours every year
North Dakota (Board of Nursing) 2 years12 contact hours12 contact hours12 contact hours + 15 in pharmacotherapy (if with prescriptive authority)
Ohio (Board of Nursing)2 years24 contact hours24 contact hours24 contact hours for each APRN license
Oklahoma (Board of Nursing )2 years24 contact hours24 contact hours24 contact hours (15 in pharmacology)
Oregon State (Board of Nursing) 2 years2 hours of cultural competency + 1 hour of pain management specific to Oregon + a one-time requirement of 6 hours of pain management2 hours of cultural competency + 1 hour of pain management specific to Oregon + a one-time requirement of 6 hours of pain managementMaintain national certification
Pennsylvania State (Board of Nursing) 2 years30 contact hours (2 in child abuse recognition and reporting)30 contact hours (2 in child abuse recognition and reporting)30 contact hours (2 in child abuse recognition and reporting)
Rhode Island (Board of Nurse Registration)2 years10 contact hours (2 in substance abuse)10 contact hours (2 in substance abuse)10 contact hours (2 in substance abuse)
South Carolina (Board of Nursing2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)Maintain national certification; NPs, CNMs, and CNSs with prescriptive authority need 20 hours in pharmacotherapeutics
South Dakota (Board of Nursing) 2 yearsNone (but has a minimum practice requirement)None (but has a minimum practice requirement)Maintain national certification
Tennessee (Board of Nursing)2 years5 contact hours (alternate routes available)5 contact hours(alternate routes available)Maintain national certification + alternate routes 
Texas (Board of Nursing)2 years20 contact hours (alternate routes available)20 contact hours (alternate routes available)20 contact hours + 5 hours in pharmacotherapeutics for those with prescriptive authority (alternate routes available)
Utah State (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)Maintain national certification + 30 contact hours (alternate routes available)
Vermont State (Board of Nursing)2 yearsNone (required number of work hours)None (required number of work hours)Maintain national certification + required number of work hours
Virginia (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours (alternate routes available)40 contact hours (8 in pharmacology if with prescriptive authority)
Washington (Board of Nursing)Every year8 contact hours + practice hours (6 hours on suicide assessment, treatment and management as a one-time requirement)8 contact hours + practice hours (6 hours on suicide assessment, treatment and management as a one-time requirement)30 hours every 2 years + 15 in pharmacology if with prescriptive authority
DC (Board of Nursing)2 years18 contact hours24 contact hours24 contact hours (15 in pharmacology)
West Virginia (RN Board)varies24 contact hours every 2 years12 contact hours every year24 contact hours every 2 years
Wisconsin (Board of Nursing)2 yearsNonenoneMaintain national certification + 16 hours in clinical pharmacology
Wyoming State (Board of Nursing)2 years30 contact hours if less than 200 practice hours (alternate routes available)30 contact hours if less than 200 practice hours (alternate routes available)60 contact hours + practice hours (alternate routes available)

What Counts as Nursing CE?

Most states specify what counts as nursing CE and what does not. 

In general, it can only be counted as nursing CE if the units you take are specific to nursing or your specified nursing field/practice.

In other words, general education courses or topics unrelated to nursing don’t count.

You also need to check if your state specifies which courses you need to take. Some examples of mandated CEUs are pain management, suicide assessment and prevention, cultural awareness, pharmacology, and infection control.

Most states even provide a list of accredited CE providers and courses.

What’s the Difference between a Contact Hour and a CEU?

You may often encounter the terms “contact hours” or “continuing education units (CEUs)” when we talk about continuing education. 

In general, a contact hour refers to 50-60 hours of instruction or training. A CEU, on the other hand, is a collective term referring to about 10 contact hours.

So, if your state requires 20 contact hours, this can also be referred to as 2 CEUs. 

It’s still best to check how your state defines the terms. 

Is Nursing CE Expensive?

Yes and no – It depends on where you’re employed, what type of CE you’re trying to get, and who the CE providers are.

If you’re working for a big hospital or facility, there is a high chance that your employers will provide free CE or will pay for your CE elsewhere. 

It’s also possible that they will let you pay for the training, but offer incentives to employees that complete certain training. 

Your state’s board of nursing may also provide some free or cheaper training, especially for mandated CE courses. 

You can also find free or cheaper CE online. 

But of course, if you’re going for more specialized training, or if you want to upgrade your nursing license (e.g. from LPN to RN, or from RN to APRN), then this will entail higher costs. 

You can always think of CE as an investment, though. The more skilled you are, the higher the chances of job promotion or bigger salary. 

You can choose to pay for more expensive CE now, and reap the rewards later on. 

What Should I Do After I Complete Training?

After you complete some contact hours, you may feel a sense of relief and success… 

That’s great! 

But DON’T FORGET to keep a record of all your certificates. 

If your training was completed online, you may get an online certificate of completion. 

You may also have physical copies of other certificates. 

It’s important to keep track of all these certificates in one folder (either physical or electronic… or both!)

This will help you keep track of how many hours you’ve already accomplished and how many more you need.

You may also be asked to submit these as proof during the renewal of your license or during license audits.

It’s also great to keep your professional portfolio for job promotions or if you want to look for another job. 

Conclusion 

There you have it!

We’ve seen that continuing education is vital for all nurses, both personally and professionally. 

You need to keep up-to-date with all the advancing knowledge and developments in the medical field. 

Your patients are also relying on you to give them the best and safest nursing care. 

Most states require you to take nursing CE, but even if they don’t, it would be best for you to pursue it on your own. 

Gotta love learning! 

We hope this article will help you as you continue your nursing journey. 

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