As a DON, nurses often ask me if they need CEs to renew their state nursing license. Several years ago, the answer to this question was a simple and resounding yes. However, changes to this rule have made this a bit more confusing. A lot of these changes were made on the state level, meaning the requirements a nurse now has to fulfill all depend on the state(s) they are licensed in. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these requirements have changed – let’s dive in to how these have changed and what that means for nurses like you.
What the Louisiana State Board of Nursing says: “All RNs licensed in the state of Louisiana are mandated by statute to complete nursing CEs or have been engaged in active nursing practice during the 2-year licensure period.“
What this means for nurses: As long as you worked a minimum of 900 hours (an average of about 9 hours per week over 2 years) during your 2-year active licensure period, you are not required to take CE classes to renew your Louisiana state nursing license. Visit the Louisiana Board of Nursing CE page for more info and FAQs regarding Louisiana state licensure renewals.
What the Mississippi State Board of Nursing says: “The state of Mississippi repealed its continuing education requirements in 2020. RNs who have been out of practice for more than five years are required to complete a minimum of twenty contact hours earned in the previous two-year period.“
What this means for nurses: Nurses looking to renew their Mississippi nursing license are not required to complete CE hours to renew a license unless the nurse has not practiced in the last 5 years. Click here for more details regarding Mississippi state licensure requirements.
What the Texas State Board of Nursing says: “For licensure renewal, LVNs and RNs must complete 20 contact hours of continuing nursing education (CNE) in the nurse’s area of practice OR demonstrate the achievement, maintenance, or renewal of a Board-approved national nursing certification in the nurse’s area of practice within the licensing period and meet the applicable targeted continuing education requirements.”
What this means for nurses: Needless to say, Texas’ requirements are not as straightforward as Louisiana or Mississippi. They require at least 20 contact hours OR achievement/maintenance of a certification AND some very specific topic requirements. The Texas Board of Nursing outlines their exact CNE requirements (including the list of approved CE topics) on this page of their website.
What the Kentucky State Board of Nursing says: “All nurses are required to complete 14 hours continuing education (CE) during the CE earning period, which is the same as the licensure/renewal period, November 1 through October 31 of each year. Effective January 13, 2022, per 201 KAR 20:215 all nurses must complete mandatory continuing education in suicide prevention and implicit bias.”
What this means for nurses: Nurses licensed in Kentucky must complete 14 hours of CE each year. Effective January 13, 2022, Kentucky also requires nurses to complete mandatory continuing education contact hours in suicide prevention (2 hours minimum) and implicit bias (1.5 hours minimum). The good news is RNs and LPNs may use the contact hours completed for these requirements towards the 14 contact hours required annually for the earning period in which they are completed. Learn more about Kentucky state licensure requirements or find additional information about the recently mandated specific topic requirements.
What the North Carolina State Board of Nursing says: “15 contact Hours of continued education and 640 hours of active practice within previous 2 years are required before license renewals or reinstatements are granted. Active practice is defined as activities performed, either for compensation or without compensation, consistent with the scope of practice for each level of licensure, RN or LPN [21 NCAC 36 .0120(5)]”
What this means for nurses: Nurses who have actively worked at least 640 hours within the previous 2 years (an average of only 6 hours per week over a 2-year period) only need to complete 15 contact hours of CE courses to renew their North Carolina nursing license. There are also several alternate options available to nurses for fulfilling North Carolina licensure requirements listed here.
What the West Virginia State Board of Nursing says: “Pursuant to the West Virginia Legislative Code of Rule WV 19 CSR 11, registered nurses are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education during each renewal period.”
What this means for nurses: Nurses must complete 12 hours of CE to renew their West Virginia nursing license. They also have specific topic requirements such as drug diversion training and mental health training. Check out this page of the WV Board of Nursing website for more information about these requirements.
Compact States: If you have a compact license in one of the NLC states, fulfilling that state’s mandated licensure renewal requirements also allows you the option to legally work in any of the other NLC states.
Finding accredited CE courses & providers: When scheduling CE courses, it’s important to verify the CE providers and courses are legitimate andwill actually count toward your required CEUs. Before scheduling or paying for a specific CE course, make sure the course/course provider is accredited by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Click here to find an Accredited Organization or Program for nursing CE courses.
In conclusion – CE requirements all depend on which state (or states) you are licensed in. As you you can see from this short list of select states, the amount of required CEUs can vary widely from state to state, so it’s important to research and understand exactly what you’ll need to do to continue practicing as a nurse in your state. My advice is to check the board of nursing website for the state(s) you are licensed in at the beginning of the calendar year in which you will need to renew your license.
Personally, I am a nurse who would be a permanent student if someone would pay for it – so I enjoy getting the knowledge and education that CE courses provide. I attempt to get about 10 per year by attending various conferences, seminars and virtual webinars. Most of them are either free of charge or included in your nurses’ association membership dues (I could go on a tangent on why every nurse should be a member of their nursing associations, but I’ll save that talk for another day – or another blog post).
Don’t forget to add your completed CE courses to your resume! Read our blog post A Travel Nurse’s Guide to a Submission Ready Resume for resume tips and best practices.