If you’re a registered nurse in the US, chances are good that you’ll be required to take CEUs (continuing education units) at some point. This is mandated by most states, and many healthcare facilities require CEUs for nursing staff regardless of state laws.
If you’re taking CEUs for the first time, though, it’s easy to get bewildered by all the requirements, recommendations, and tips. It’s hard to get all the information from one source, which may entail plenty of research to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes. Plus, once you’ve taken care of everything you’re required to do, what about fulfilling the things you simply want to do for yourself? Maybe you want to get a specific certification, or you were hoping to attend a seminar as part of your continuing education. You could even decide to take nursing CEU online courses from a site like Nursing CE Central, so you wouldn’t have to worry about putting together a list of CEU courses on your own. How do these fit into the big picture?
The good news is that CEUs can be easy enough if you take the right steps. One study from 2011 showed that most nurses have a positive view of online courses, so you may want to consider that option.
Below you’ll find some helpful strategies laid out as simply as possible, so you can hopefully set the story straight in your head. There are regulations to bear in mind, as well as recommendations that will hopefully result in a smoother process overall.
Don’t flirt with missed deadlines
To understand why procrastinating is a bad idea, you have to consider the primary purpose of CEUs for nurses: to satisfy state requirements in order to renew their licenses. Simple, right? It is, until a deadline gets missed. This results in the nurse’s license getting suspended (or sometimes revoked), since they weren’t able to fulfill the mandated continuing education requirements. What happens next?
- The best-case scenario would be for the nurse to finish up their CEU courses, present the correct documentation to the state board of nursing, and enter an appeal to have their license reinstated.
- If that doesn’t work, the nurse may be asked to take the nurse’s licensing exam again, as if they’re earning their license for the first time.
- It can also impact a nurse’s job, since hospitals and other healthcare facilities can’t keep someone with a revoked license on staff.
Fulfilling CEUs is a pretty demanding task given most nurses’ hectic work schedules, but it’s still better than dealing with the fallout of a missed deadline.
When in doubt, ask the state board of nursing
There’s a certain degree of overlap between CEU requirements in different states, but it’s always a good idea to double-check if you aren’t sure about something. Information like license renewal deadlines or the number of required contact hours is easy to find for each state, but some questions are a bit more obscure.
For example, each state establishes its own list of approved CEU providers, including which types of courses can be counted as CEUs. In Alaska, this includes unpaid volunteer activities. In North Carolina, it includes getting published in reputable journals, teaching a nursing-related course, or completing a research project. If you find a nursing-related course that may or may not count as a CEU, but that you really want to register for, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the state board of nursing if that course is approved. With any luck, you’ll be able to take the course you’re passionate about, and get CEU credit for it too.
Take CEU courses early
Planning way ahead for your CEU deadlines doesn’t just take some of the pressure off; it also gives you an advantage in other ways. This is because you won’t be scrambling to enroll in the courses you need at the very last minute; you will have chosen, enrolled in, and completed some or all of your CEU courses before the deadline. You might want to see if there are any online nursing courses that you can take for credit.
Think about what CEU courses are supposed to be for. Yes, they’re necessary if you want to keep your nursing license current, but they’re also a form of continuing education. Do you want to take irrelevant or lower-quality courses because those were the only options, or do you want to leverage all that time and effort to move your career forward? Many professionals of all types use continuing education to qualify for promotions or better jobs, and the same goes for nurses. With the right planning – which probably includes some planning ahead – this could be you as well.
Consider online courses
Nursing CEUs take all different formats, and the ones you choose will depend on a few different factors. You might select a course because you’re interested in the material that it teaches, or because the teacher is someone you want to learn from. For many nurses, one important consideration is how the course will fit with their schedules. Given the fact that nurses’ schedules usually leave little spare time for anything else, it’s helpful if a course can be worked around a crazy schedule, rather than interrupting it.
This is where online CEU courses get their chance to shine. Many of them are self-paced, meaning a busy nurse can complete the coursework as and when their schedule allows. As long as the deadlines are met, it’s all good. This flexibility contrasts sharply with more traditional courses, such as classroom-based CEUs. It’s tough for most people to carve out blocks of time in the middle of the workday, but this is especially true for nurses.
Then there’s the fact that online CEUs also save nurses time and money, since there’s no need to drive to and from classes. Whether it’s gas, parking, public transport, or any other associated expense, it all adds up. It’s also easier to find free CEU courses online, which of course can represent a significant savings compared to some courses.
Completing nursing CEUs can be a daunting task, but there are ways to streamline the process. Make sure you’re coloring inside the lines, start enrolling early to get the best courses, and consider online CEUs for greater flexibility. You could be surprised at how smoothly it goes with the right strategies on your side. You can find some more options in this post from Nurse Journal.