How Many Continuing Education Credits Do You Need?

Registered nurses who are registered with the state need to obtain continuing education credits to renew their license. Or do they? It’s important to understand the continuing education requirements for nurses – but it’s not as straightforward as you might suspect.

As a nurse, you must undertake continuing education. Why? Because it demonstrates your commitment to providing safe and quality care for the patients.

Yet it can prove difficult completing your Continuing Education Credits where they are needed. Why? Some of the most common reasons why nurses may not have obtained or maintained their credits include: staffing shortages, insufficient time during working hours, lack of support from supervisors, and lack of work experience.

If you have experienced any of these factors, you must speak to your boss and make the change that is necessary to renew your nursing license. Remember, it is in your employer’s best interest to help you complete the credits you need.

Myths about Continuing Education Credits in Nursing

There are many misconceptions about continuing education credits (CECs, or CEUs – Continuing Education Units) in nursing. For instance, some believe that they can get credit for watching training videos or reading books in their own time. While such activities may help you, they do not count toward your CECs.

Where CECs are required, you must complete them in a recognized format.

The Biggest Myth? Nurses Must Complete CECs

Perhaps the biggest myth is that nurses must complete CECs. This isn’t true. There are some states that do not require you to obtain CECs. Other states require hundreds of practice hours.

For example, in Wyoming, you’ll need continuing education as follows:

  • 500 practice hours in the last 2 years; or
  • 1,600 practice hours in the last 5 years; or
  • 20 contact hours in the last 2 years; or
  • Completion of a refresher course in the last 5 years; or
  • Certification in a specialty area of nursing practice by a national accrediting agency in the last 5 years; or
  • Pass the NCLEX in the last 5 years

Here in Kansas, the requirement is far less complicated. You’ll need 30 contact hours every two years.

So, How Many CECs Do You Need to Complete?

Whether you need CECs, how many, and how you obtain them depends upon the state in which you are registered and working. A full list of CEC requirements for RNs and LPNs is available here.

There is also a further complication: even if your state board doesn’t require you to obtain CECs to prove continuing competence, your employer, nursing association, or agency may do. And their requirements may be more than your state’s nursing board. This is especially true for specialty certifications, which have specific CEC requirements.

The way to know how many CECs you need is to check with your agency, nursing association, and employer -–and then make a plan to achieve them.

Do you have any questions about your personal CEC needs? Feel free to contact QS Nurses.