Many professions require CEUs or continuing education, and nursing is no exception. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the nursing field throughout your career.
Of course, after all the hard work you put in to get your nursing degree, it’s tempting to think you’re done with studying once you get to the floor. But the practice of nursing is constantly evolving. Evidence-based practice means that what we know is always being updated based on the latest research.
What exactly are CEUs?
CEUs – or continuing education units – are a measurement of the time that you invested in keeping your nursing skills and knowledge fresh.
Other names for CEUs include:
- Contact hours
- Continuing Education (CE)
- Continuing Nursing Education Units (CNE)
- Continuing Education Credits
While there can be some differences, most of the time these terms are used interchangeably.
Most nursing licenses require that you complete a certain amount of continuing education in order to keep your license in good standing.
How much continuing education do you need to complete?
The amount of continuing education that you’re required to complete varies depending on the state you are licensed in. You’ll need to complete anywhere from 0-45 contact hours for each license renewal period. Your state board of licensing can tell you the exact requirements for your state or territory.
Even if your state doesn’t require CEUs for licensing, you may still need them to satisfy employer or specialty certification requirements.
Plus, it’s just good practice to spend time investing in your nursing knowledge and skills. Not only does it improve the care that you give your patients, it makes you more marketable.
Who can give contact hours?
Contact hours can only be awarded by providers that have had their programs approved by an accrediting board. The most well-known of these is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
The board of nursing licensure in your state or territory determines exactly what activities you can and can’t use to meet your education requirements in that state. In general, you can expect the following:
- Content approved by your state board of nursing or the ANCC
- Courses to move into specialty areas of nursing practice
- Initial certification for advanced skills such as ACLS or PALS (varies by state)
- Courses to advance your education with a BSN or graduate degree
- Content on professional nursing conduct
Activities that don’t usually count for CEUs:
- General education classes
- Basic CPR courses
- Advanced skills renewal courses (ACLS, PALS) (varies by state)
- Courses designed for lay persons
- Facility orientation or in-service trainings
- Community service or volunteer activities
Keeping track of your CEUs
It’s recommended that you keep the records of your continuing education either physically or digitally for at least 3 license renewal cycles.
Most boards of registration don’t ask for it when you renew your nursing license, but you can be audited at any point. If you’re selected for auditing you’ll need to produce records for the appropriate amount of continuing education for the last few renewal cycles.
Failure to show the minimum amount of approved continuing education can result in your nursing license being suspended until you make it up.
Common sources for nursing CEUs
You are responsible for making sure that you get the required amount of CEUs. Fortunately, continuing education content is pretty easy to find.
Continuing nursing education can be taken in-person or online. Content can be free or paid.
Some common sources for CEUs are your employer, any specialty or professional organizations that you might belong to, or online continuing education platforms.
Wherever you choose to take your continuing education units:
- Make sure you confirm that they accreditation
- Confirm how they will provide you with documentation of your contact hours (you may not want to wait for snail mail)
Where to find free CEUs online
Don’t stress about finding or paying for CEUs when you can access them with just a few keystrokes. Incredible Health offers 100% free CEUs accredited by the ANCC in all 50 states, Washington DC, and Guam. Download your certificates immediately after finishing the courses.