Mandatory CE Requirements for RNs

PSNA contacted the PA State Board of Nursing for clarification regarding Act 58. The questions posed to the State Board of Nursing were a result of the educational sessions that PSNA has conducted across the State. We hope these answers are helpful to you. Please contact us if you have further questions. We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

  1. For purposes of academic credit the Board has determined that it is appropriate to limit the number of CE hours that may be obtained from a single source. (Think of a single source to mean the same as a single course in the academic world.) Therefore, one course/source in a quarter system may offer no more than 10 CE hrs. regardless of the number of academic credits. (Refer to Section 21.132.)
    • For example, one 3 credit course for a quarter will count 10 hours toward the required 30 hours.
    • Three 3 credit courses taken in a quarter based programs would be the equivalent of 30 hours.
    • Credit for CE hrs. is given based on the date of course COMPLETION if it falls within the two yr. biennial renewal period.
  2. Basic Life Support Instructor course – will these count toward the 30 hours required for license renewal? – This is being taken to the State Board of nursing for their consideration.
  3. The education a Registered Nurse uses toward their 30 hours must be from an approved provider and must meet the definition of acceptable nursing education. Refer to Section 21.134(a). Because the education is from an approved provider, does not mean that it will meet the definition of acceptable nursing education according to the Nursing Code for Act 58. The Board may also approve other sources of CE on a case-by-case basis after the provider or RN submits the required information in Section 21.134(b).
  4. A Registered Nurse will usually be notified within 90 days of their renewal if they are going to be audited. An audit in a different renewal cycle is unlikely but is a possibility so certificates must be kept for at least 5 years. Refer to Section 21.131(c). “A professional nurse shall retain documentation of the nurse’s completion of continuing education for at least 5 years.”
  5. The State Board has recognized approved providers of education. They do not have requirements in place for the methodology, planning and evaluation of the educational settings. Poor nursing educational sessions are to be reported to the State Board of Nursing.
  6. The State Board of Nursing does not require a RN to keep the information from an educational session (i.e., conference brochure, educational flyer, course objectives, etc.) in the case that they are audited. It is in the best interest of the RN to keep this information with the certificate of completion.
  7. Educational credit for precepting is to be determined by the State Board. For Education courses, if the education centers on nursing education and nursing theory, they would count toward the required educational hours. If the courses are general education, they would not count toward the required education mandates. Classes on informatics would need to tie to nursing content to be considered for educational credit toward the 30 hour requirement. Simulation courses would count toward the educational requirement for license renewal. Refer to Section 21.133(a). “CE must be relevant to patient care or professional nursing in a general or specialty area and enhance the knowledge and application of the physical, social, biological and behavioral sciences.”
  8. Each nurse is liable for his/her own license. The hospital may have or can put a policy in place to deal with the RN who does not meet the requirements for mandatory CE for license renewal. It is recommended that the hospital consult their attorneys.
  9. There is no fee for an appeal hearing. If the appeal goes to court, there would be court costs.
  10. A database of completed educational activities that contains all the requirements that are listed for certificates would count as proof of participation if a RN were audited. Refer to Section 21.134(b).
  11. The self study/prep time for a certification exam does not count toward the 30 hours required for license renewal at this time. Sitting for a certification exam also does not count toward the 30 hours required for license renewal. The preparation classes for certification preparation would count as long as the class focused on nursing practice and if the classes were provided by a preapproved provider with approved CE content.
  12. The regulations developed by the State Board of Nursing were not based on a Best Practice Model from another state. They are based on the comments received from stakeholders and nurses across the state of Pennsylvania and are also based on guidelines from other states.

FAQ on Mandatory Continuing Education (CE) for Registered Nurses

Taken from the SBON

Q. Now that the CE regulations are final what do I need to do about getting my CEs?

A. Follow these steps:

  1. Check the expiration date on your current license.
  2. Look for CE offerings from Board approved providers (*) occurring in the time frames indicted in the table below for your expiration date. For example: if your license expires on April 30, 2011 you will need to complete 30 hours of Board approved continuing education between May 1, 2009 through April 30, 2011.
    • If your expiration date on your RN license is October 31, 2010, then you must obtain 30 hours of Board approved CE from 11/1/08 through 10/31/10.
    • If your expiration date on your RN license is April 30, 2011, then you must obtain 30 hours of Board approved CE from 5/1/09 through 4/30/11.
    • If your expiration date on your RN license is October 31, 2011, then you must obtain 30 hours of Board approved CE from 11/1/09 through 10/31/11.
    • If your expiration date on your RN license is April 30, 2012, then you must obtain 30 hours of Board approved CE from 5/1/10 through 4/30/12.
  3. Complete all 30 hours of continuing education in the time frame for your renewal period.
  4. Keep all certificates for the CE you have completed for at least 5 years. Make sure that each of the certificates has the required information – your name, the course title, the number of CE hours awarded, the date(s) of the activity, the provider(s) of the activity and the name of the organization which approved the activity.
  5. When it comes time to renew your license, answer the renewal question about completion of the necessary 30 hours CE. 6) DO NOT submit your CE certificates with your renewal unless you are selected for audit at which time instructions will be provided.

NOTE: Those RNs renewing October 31, 2008 are NOT required to have completed the 30 hours of CE.

Q. Who will be the first group that will need the CE?

A. The first group of nurses who will be required to have completed the 30 hours of CE will be those nurses renewing their licenses on October 31, 2010.

Q. Where can I find the new regulations?

A. The new regulations for continuing education for Registered Nurses can be found in the PA Bulletin at http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol38/38-28/1289.html.

Q. How did the Board determine which providers are Board approved providers?

A. These sources of CE consistently prepare activities of consistent quality, provide courses directly related to nursing practice or patient care, improve patient practice and ensure competency of nurses.

Q. If I am a school nurse, LDN or a CRNP will I also need to get 30 hours of continuing education?

A. In lieu of meeting this requirement, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs), school nurses and dietetics-nutrition licensees (LDNs) can fulfill the CE requirements for their respective certification or license requirements. For example, a CRNP shall complete 30 hours of CE for renewal of their CRNP state certification; the LDN shall complete 30 hours of CPE (continuing professional education) for their LDN license renewal and school nurses who, as certified education specialists, shall obtain continuing education as per the “Public School Code of 1949.” School nurses, who as certified education specialists are required to obtain continuing professional education under the Public School Code of 1949 shall verify by signed statement that the school nurse has complied with the continuing education requirements by the Department of Education.

It will not be necessary for the CRNP, the LDN or the school nurse to obtain an additional 30 hours of CE for RN license renewal as spoken to in the Law, provided the CRNP maintains PA nurse practitioner certification, the LDN maintains PA licensure as an LDN and the school nurse continues to obtain continuing education as a certified education specialist.

Q. What do I do with my certificates?

A. The RN is not required to send CE certificates to the Board unless the RN is selected for audit, at which time instructions will be provided. If the provider of the program does not issue a CE certificate, it will be necessary to obtain a statement from that provider which lists all the information that would normally be found on a CE certificate such as: name of attendee, name and address of provider, title of course, date and location of course, hours of CE awarded and which organization, from the list below, approved the course. Nurses selected for audit will be randomly selected from those RNs who have renewed their license in the just completed renewal cycle. Unless notified to send in CE certificates do not do so.

Q. This is my first renewal; will I still need to have the CEs?

A. Applicants applying for initial licensure by examination will not be required to meet the continuing education requirement on the first renewal immediately following licensure if the applicant completed a professional nursing education program within 2 years of the application for initial licensure.

Q. What type of CE will be acceptable?

A. Acceptable CE course content will include professional nursing course content related to the following (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Human sexuality
  • Death, dying and grief
  • Foreign language relevant to health care
  • Therapeutic interpersonal relationship skills
  • Patient rights
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing administration
  • Management
  • Education
  • Diagnostic and procedural coding
  • Individual or group research, as the principal or co-principal investigator, if the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the facility in which the research will be conducted has approved the research.

Q. What type of CE will not be acceptable?

A. Unacceptable CE course content will include non-professional course content related to the following (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Self-improvement
  • Change in attitude
  • Financial gain
  • Courses designed for lay persons
  • BLS (Basic Life Support)
  • Mandatory annual education on facility specific policies
  • Employment orientation programs

Q. Who are approved providers of CE?

A. The following continuing education activities that meet the requirements of §21.133 (relating to continuing education content) for professional nurses are approved:

  • Activities sponsored by a Board-approved professional nursing or CRNP education program
  • Activities sponsored by an accredited professional nursing, CRNP, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Midwifery education program
  • Activities sponsored by accredited hospital and health care facilities
  • Activities sponsored by hospitals and health care facilities licensed by the Department of Health or Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare
  • Activities sponsored by regionally accredited institutions of higher education
  • Activities sponsored by National nursing, medical and osteopathic and other health care professional organizations and their state and regional affiliates
  • Activities sponsored by National trade organizations, associations and their affiliated groups and their state and regional affiliates
  • Activities sponsored by National nursing, risk management, health care quality and patient safety organizations
  • Activities sponsored by Federal and state agencies
  • Activities sponsored by a Board in another jurisdiction

Q. I found a course that I would like to take but it is not on the list of continuing education activities that meet the requirements of §21.133 (relating to continuing education content) for professional nurses, can I take the course and get credit for it?

A. If the course is not on the list of continuing education activities that meet the requirements of §21.133 (relating to continuing education content) for professional nurses, you can send in an application to the Board requesting that this course be approved. Please refer to Section 21.134(b) of the Rules and Regulations for a list of information that would need to be submitted. This request must be submitted along with the required fee ($75 per credit hour) to the Board at least 90 days prior to the date of the course to allow the Board sufficient time to review the request.

[PSNA Note: as a Continuing Education Provider you may have your course approved by us. For more information regarding course approval process and purchasing the CE Approval Manual which outlines all the steps needed click here]

Q. I have already taken some CE courses; can I use those for the 30 hours?

A. Any CE courses taken prior to the time indicated in the table above cannot be used towards the required 30 hours.

At their May 19, 2009 meeting, the Commission on Accreditation decided that contact hours for BLS and other basic “canned” courses may not be awarded. Any courses currently being presented (by either accredited providers or approved providers) must cease to award contact hours by June 1, 2011.

The Commission also decided that contact hours for renewal of ACLS, PALS and other advanced “canned” courses may not be awarded. Any courses currently being presented (by either accredited providers or approved providers) must cease to award contact hours by June 1, 2011.

Awarding contact hours for initial ACLS, PALS and other advanced “canned” courses is still permitted.

Official regulations

August 27, 2007 Revised April 14, 2008, August 12, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA STATE BOARD OF NURSING
P.O. BOX 2649 HARRISBURG, PA 17105-2649
PHONE: (717) 783-7142
FAX: (717) 783-0822
www.dos.state.pa.us/nurse
st-nurse@state.pa.us