Insights Regarding Continuing Education in Nursing

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    Continuing Education Units

    • Continuing education units (CEUs) for nurses are based on how much time is invested in a learning situation, and they are assigned in contact hours. The amount of time invested might be straightforward, such as how many hours you attend a seminar. Home- or Internet-based CEU programs often assign hours based on the expected duration of study. Typically, CEUs are geared for nurses, but many states accept Continuing Medical Education Category 1 (CME) hours as equivalent to CEUs. Your state also may accept college credits for foreign language and legal issues as CEUs. Participation in, and publication of, nursing research may qualify for CEUs.

    State Regulations

    • Each state has its own regulations regarding nursing CEUs. Most states typically require 30 contact hours of continuing nursing education every two years for re-licensure. Some states require specific topics in a nurse's CEUs. For example, Florida mandates continuing education in medication error prevention, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and domestic violence. Iowa requires nurses who care for dependent children or adults to have further education regarding how to identify and address abuse situations. Michigan and Oregon require continuing nursing education in pain management. Check your state's nursing regulations to ensure you select CEU topics that meet its specific requirements.


    • Nursing CEUs vary in cost and time commitment. You may need to travel to attend a specialty conference, or you may find nearby conferences that meet your needs. Nursing or medical schools may have a calendar of upcoming conferences. When less travel is involved, your CEUs are more affordable. Some medical schools offer free CEUs and CMEs online. Hospitals may have a staff education department that could be a good resource. Check with the human resources department or manager to see if your employer offers reimbursement for CEUs or college classes. The information you learn in continuing education is a benefit to your employer's customers--your patients.


    • States differ regarding how many CEUs re-licensure requires and reporting of those CEUs. While you may not be required to submit proof with your re-licensure application, keep your CEU certificates because some boards of nursing may randomly audit nurses. Check with your board of nursing to see how many years you should retain your proof of attendance. If you are audited and do not have your CEU certificates, usually you can order replacements, but that can take time and money.

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