Continuing Nursing Education – The Requirements

May 15, 2018

By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart Learning Contributor


The requirements for continuing nursing education (CNE) vary widely from state to state, and may even vary by licensure type within the same state.   All states and territories have enacted a nurse practice act, or laws to regulate nursing in that state or territory, along with a board of nursing to administratively clarify those laws.[1] Requirements for basic nursing education, licensure and CNE are determined by each board of nursing based on state-specific laws and regulations.

Most, but not all, U.S. nurses are required to complete a specified number of hours of continuing education during each licensure cycle.  And, some states require that nurses provide proof of nursing competency based on employment hours, national certification, or completion of a refresher course. There are also states that require a certain number of educational hours on designated clinical topics, either as a one-time requirement, or as a requirement within certain renewal periods.  For example, Florida RNs, LPNs, CNSs, and ARNPs  must complete 24 hours of continuing education in every biennium (24-month renewal cycle), that includes two hours on prevention of medical errors, two hours on laws and rules that govern the practice of nursing, and effective October 01, 2017, two hours on human trafficking.  Florida nurses must also complete two hours on recognizing impairment in the workplace every second renewal (every four years); an additional two hours on domestic violence every third renewal (every 6 years), and a one-time, one-hour requirement for HIV/AIDS education prior to the first renewal.[2]

If an employer doesn’t provide continuing education courses at work, or doesn’t provide enough hours to fulfill renewal requirements, there are a variety of sources outside of the workplace to obtain it.  Live classes, webinars, and online self-study courses offered by professional associations or state- approved continuing education providers are three popular options.  Each individual state board of nursing approves individual courses and/or continuing education providers, as well as regulates any restrictions on CNE courses.  Every nurse should be familiar with state-specific dictates, such as the number of hours that can be obtained through on-line courses or continuing medical education, or the methodology used to convert college credit hours to contact hours.

The larger picture of the purpose for CNE, however, shouldn’t get lost in the details of the requirements.  As nurses build more knowledge and competency through continuing education and professional development, safety and quality of care are positively impacted.  And, that’s the primary reason there are CNE requirement to begin with.

[1] National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Nurse Practice Act, Rules & Regulations.  Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/nurse-practice-act.htm

[2] Florida Board of Nursing. (2018).  Continuing Education FAQs:  How many contact hours do I need for a full biennium? Retrieved from http://floridasnursing.gov/continuing-education-faqs/

 

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[1] National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Nurse Practice Act, Rules & Regulations.  Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/nurse-practice-act.htm

[1] Florida Board of Nursing. (2018).  Continuing Education FAQs:  How many contact hours do I need for a full biennium? Retrieved from http://floridasnursing.gov/continuing-education-faqs/

May 15, 2018

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