Are there Continuing Education Requirements for a Nurse Practitioner?

The Continuing Education (CE) requirements for an NP are set by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. If you are in the process of getting certified to work as a highly respected Nurse Practitioner (NP), you should learn about the continuing education requirements before you get certified. Anyone who has gone through the certification program to work as an adult, family, gerontological, or adult-gerontology Nurse Practitioner agrees that they will meet the certification requirements and the recertification requirements when it is time to re-certify. Read on, and learn about these requirements and how often you will need to prove you have taken the necessary courses once you are an NP.

Do You Have to Take Continuing Education Courses as an NP?

Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have passed a certification exam to show that they have advanced knowledge and experience in clinical settings. Because of their advanced knowledge, they can work autonomously in healthcare settings to diagnose and treat common medical problems. Since they are providing quality care without working directly under a physician, Nurse Practitioners are held to a higher standard than standard Registered Nurses. They are expected to stay up-to-date with changes in the healthcare sector. To demonstrate that they are up-to-date, NPs can either meet clinical and continuing education requirements or opt to take a special examination. The examination will cover topics that are currently covered on the initial certification exam. This is why most NP’s choose to meet the renewal requirements by taking the appropriate continuing education courses.

How Much Continuing Education is Required?

NPs must re-certify every five years. If you choose to meet the re-certification requirements by taking continuing education courses, you must complete at least 75 contact hours of continuing education. After January 2017, the requirement is changing; you will need to complete 100 contact hours of continuing education, with at least 25 of these hours in pharmacology related courses.  In addition to coursework requirements, you will also need to have at least 1000 hours in clinical practice settings working with patients. All of the CEs that are completed must be done within the certification period.

All of the courses that you take must be approved by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. The AANP recommends that you have your credits done at least 8 weeks before the date that the paperwork is due for processing. You can submit your paperwork up to 1 year before your recertification date. This gives you a very open period of time to gather all of your documentation, verify that your credits are valid, and take extra courses if you are missing hours.

Staying certified is a must when you are practicing as a Nurse Practitioner. With a growing population of aging adults who require the accessible care that NPs offer, staying up-to-date is crucial to delivering quality care. This is why the requirements surrounding continuing education are getting more strict as the years go on. Be sure that you know what your expectations are as a certified professional in the field. Schedule courses regularly throughout your certification period so that you are not completing hours last minute. As long as you know the CE requirements for an NP, you can avoid procrastinating and learn in the process.