A career in nursing can be challenging, hectic, and stressful—especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. So the last thing on the minds of nurses on the front line of healthcare is keeping track of continuing education (CE) requirements for maintaining a nursing license.
Many nurses wait until right before the renewal CE completion deadline to look for courses and other options (waivers) to meet their state licensing requirements. The easiest solution for those who wait until the end or simply cannot find time is to do all the CE requirements online.
The Basics of Online Continuing Education
We first need some background knowledge to understand how to best go about meeting the requirements of your local licensing board before we can look into specific sites/online providers of CE courses.
Continuing education for nurses is awarded through continuing education units (CEUs). Each CEU consists of 10 contact hours, and each contact hour is defined as 50 or 60 minutes of instruction in a board-approved nursing continuing education class or activity.
With an understanding of CEUs in mind (also just called CEs for short), we can better understand what a state’s CE requirements entail. In most cases, you can look for information directly from the nurse licensing board of the state in question.
While most states have different CE requirements, 13 have no requirements for CE: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
States requiring CE can go up to 45 CEUs, and some even specify that certain courses must be taken once or per licensure renewal period (usually, states have annual or triennial periods).
Finally, before deciding on a course, you should ensure it and the provider are approved by your state’s board of nurses/board of registered nurses (BON/BRN). The coursework will not count toward your CE requirements without that approval.
If the course and its provider are approved by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), then it will also be approved by any state BON/BRN.
You should always keep a record of your courses and look to see if you live in a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state. If you do, you’ll be allowed to practice in other states that are part of the compact as long as you meet the standards of your state of residence (you can find a list of participating states here.
Online Continuing Education Courses for Nurses
Now that we’ve discussed a basic understanding of how CE works, we’ll now explain how you can quickly meet your CE requirements entirely online.
Because of the many changes brought on by COVID-19 and education in general moving to online platforms, there are now several online providers of CE courses to choose from. The courses are accessible, affordable, and flexible enough to accommodate even the most overworked nurses.
In addition to CE courses for license renewal, there are also certifications available for Advanced Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
Below, we look at four different providers and what they offer.
Nurse.com is an excellent provider of CE courses. It has been the industry-leading expert for over 30 years. The courses are explicitly created for nurses by practicing nurses and other healthcare professionals.
One of the best aspects of using Nurse.com is that the provider is accredited by the ANCC and also jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Nurse.com offers courses that are self-paced and mobile suitable. The courses are designed to help nurses increase clinical proficiency and exam preparedness to better foster professional development.
Courses are easy to sort through, as the site provides filtering tools to narrow searches to specific states and their requirements and focused CE courses based on topic.
There is also a specific tab for free courses and an unlimited CE package to streamline further the process of selecting courses.
NursingCE.com is a comprehensive resource for maintaining licensing requirements. The site provides courses that meet the licensing requirements of all 50 states, including Washington, D.C.
NursingCE.com is under the umbrella of Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC (ATI Nursing Education), an ANCC-accredited provider for continuing education for nurses and a leading institute for providing assessments and other digital solutions for nursing schools.
All courses completed will allow you to earn ANCC-accredited credits. In addition, the provider emphasizes efficiency while staying up-to-date on the latest advances in nursing.
You can access CE content from anywhere with a phone, tablet, or desktop computer. A great feature is that the provider has partnered with CE Broker, the official CE tracking system trusted by regulating entities in several states. CE Broker allows for automatic reporting of CE course completion if you live in a state that uses it.
NursingCE.com also provides a variety of streamlined packages to make course selection easy. These packages include state requirements and specialty packages for specific areas of medicine.
The provider also has courses centered on pharmacology CE and institution packages that provide a way to take customizable corporate or organization packages that your employer has pre-set. Finally, there is also a selection of free courses to take.
NetCE.com is designed to be an invaluable tool for healthcare professionals in general. NetCE.com caters to nurses as well as physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, mental health professionals, psychologists, dental professionals, certified surgical technologists, and nursing home administrators.
NetCE.com is a comprehensive provider in the fields of medicine and mental health, and the site is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). In addition, the provider complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is internationally recognized as the standard of excellence in instructional practices. Because of this accreditation, NetCE.com is authorized to issue IACET CEU.
NetCE.com is also linked with CE Broker, so if your local board uses the CE Broker system, NetCE will automatically send your completed course information to the board.
As expected, NetCE.com is accredited by several nursing and nursing-related organizations, including the ACCME, ACPE, and ANCC. Nurse practitioners certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) may complete NetCE.com courses because it’s authorized to award AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.
Specific NetCE.com courses also fulfill the requirements for recertification for Certified Nurses in the Operating Room (CNOR) set by the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN).
Finding a CE course for nursing is quite simple. The system used by NetCE.com requires you to select which profession you would like to find courses for from a pull-down menu, and in a second menu, you choose your jurisdiction.
You can easily find which courses you should take based on the requirements of your particular area of practice because NetCE.com breaks down all levels and types of requirements—including timeframes for completion shown alongside the course titles.
In addition, there is a sub-menu for special offers relating to your course requirements, and, if preferred, you also have the option to request a course booklet to navigate course selection better.
RN.com is the leading provider of ANCC-accredited nursing CE and is designed to provide contemporary, relevant, and comprehensive collections of professional education and information resources.
RN.com provides CE courses for RNs, APRNs, LPN, and LVNs. The site has more than 150 CE courses totaling 450 credit hours. In addition, RN.com is an accredited ANCC provider and offers most state-required nurse licensure courses, competency assessments, and content licensing.
The site also offers group CE discounts and other resources for nurses, including the latest nursing news.
RN.com is a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provider for the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) nursing education course. Furthermore, RN.com has partnered with nursing agencies to provide nurses access to short-term and long-term employment opportunities across the country.
Deciding on a CE Course Provider
All the providers listed are great options for a nurse trying to find and complete CE courses. This is not a comprehensive list of qualified and accredited CE course providers, but they do stand out as quality options for any nurse.
There are many factors you’ll have to weigh in choosing a course, such as pricing and ease of use, but each provider is quite competitive and which course layout is easier to use is a matter of your preference. Overall, remember to look at your local regulations and choose the site that works best for your situation.
Kate Macmorn – Communications Director
Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute, where they’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. When not in the office, you can find Kate practicing her tennis skills. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.