Contact Hours and Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
A contact hour is 50 or 60 minutes of instruction in a board-approved nursing continuing education class or activity. One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) equals ten contact hours. Many nursing continuing education courses are measured by CEUs to fulfill the nursing program continuing education requirements.
How to Earn Nursing Continuing Education (CE) Credits
To earn nursing continuing education (CE) credits, you can attend a variety of conferences, seminars and/or workshops, or you can enroll in correspondence or online continuing education courses as well as online nursing programs.
Class Credits and CE Requirements
If you're wondering whether the college class you're taking will count toward your nursing continuing education's CE requirement, you can be reassured that, in many cases, it will. As long as the academic nursing course you're taking is relevant to nursing practice, the class will count toward your CE requirement. One quarter hour of academic credit equals 10 contact hours, and one semester hour of academic credit equals 15 contact hours of nursing continuing education.
Non-Nursing CE Activities Counting Toward Requirements
Most boards of nursing will allow nurses to complete CE courses designed for other health care professionals if you can provide a statement explaining how the course relates to your nursing practice. You should be sure to check with your state board of nursing before enrolling in a CE activity not specifically designed for nurses, however.
Activities That Won't Count
In general, nursing continuing education requirements may not be satisfied by activities that are part of your normal, ongoing job responsibilities. This means that you can't satisfy your CE requirement with on-the-job clinical practice, by participating in the development of policies and/or presentations specific to your job, or by attending business meetings and/or employee-orientation activities.
CE Programs Approved by State Boards of Nursing
Most boards of nursing will accept a wide variety of continuing education activities in fulfillment of the CE requirement. However, because each board has a slightly different way of determining approved programs, you will need to check with your state board of nursing in order to figure out whether or not a specific nursing continuing education program will satisfy its requirements.
Sending Records of Completion to State Boards
You do not need to send CE records to your board of nursing unless you're being audited. Otherwise, it's a good idea to keep records of your CE completion for at least two consecutive nursing license registration periods. (Check with your board of nursing for specific record-keeping requirements.) You only need to report your CE activities to your state board of nursing when you renew your nursing license.