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What Are the Continuing Education (CE) Requirements for Nurses?

If you are a registered nurse (RN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN), participating in continuing education (CE) is mandatory to maintain your license. Since each state handles its own licensing procedures, CE requirements vary by state. Continue reading for examples of CE requirements for nurses in California and Texas.

Overview of CE Requirements for California and Texas Nurses

According to California's Board of Registered Nursing (www.rn.ca.gov) and Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (www.bvnpt.ca.gov), to maintain your nursing license in this state, you need to complete 30 hours of CE in each 2-year renewal period. The Texas Board of Nursing says you must complete 20 hours of CE in each 2-year renewal period (www.bon.texas.gov). These are examples of the common CE requirements you'll be expected to meet as a nurse.

Important Facts About Continuing Education for Nursing Certification

Programs Offered to alumni and nurses in the community
Prerequisites Set number of contact hours must be met, depending on the state
Specializations Rural health, academic settings, and acute/ambulatory care
Online Availability Some courses are available online for completion

Restrictions and Guidelines

States may set the required number of CE hours at whatever number they deem to be reasonable. Most states have clear definitions as to what qualifies as continuing education. For example, a state may not accept activities that are less than 30 minutes. States may also specify how CE hours must be earned, such as through educational programs, work experience or research projects, or they may require you to earn a specific number of hours on a certain topic, such as pharmacology.

In Texas, you must earn CE hours through programs that are accredited by agencies recognized by the state board of nursing. If you take academic courses to fulfill your CE requirements, only those completed with a grade of 'C' or better may be counted. If you are an advanced practice nurse, you must complete CE within your specialty area, as well as pharmacotherapeutics, if applicable. The board doesn't recognize certain activities, such as basic CPR courses, refresher courses, in-service programs for your employer or on-the-job training, as meeting CE requirements.

California accepts activities that build upon your current skills and knowledge of nursing as CE credit. Courses taken by RNs can be related to patient care, advanced science, advanced nursing, administration or management. LVNs can take courses that are part of an RN program curriculum, such as patient education, human sexuality, pharmacology, psychiatric nursing or microbiology. You may complete board-approved courses through a home study program or at a college. Unacceptable courses in California include self-improvement, investing, job preparation, liberal arts, and basic CPR courses.

CE Options

You can usually find appropriate CE courses through colleges, universities, distance learning programs, and professional organizations. Many colleges and universities offer acceptable courses through their continuing education or professional development departments. You may find that some courses are geared toward specialized areas of nursing, such as audiometry or pain management. Many schools offer LVN and RN refresher courses for nurses who have been away from the workforce for a period of time. Refresher courses cover basic subjects such as fundamental nursing techniques, clinical skills, and patient care

Salary and Job Outlook for Registered Nurses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that the mean annual salary for registered nurses was $71,730 in May 2018. The number of registered nurses were expected to increase by 15% from 2016-2026, which is significantly much faster than average.