By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
Every state has different requirements for getting a nursing license. This can be frustrating for all nurses, especially travel nurses who work in multiple states. But the one thing that binds us together--besides the RN behind our name-- is the fact that we all need to get continuing education units (CEUs) to keep that license active.
While the amount of units needed may change, the fact still remains that we need to keep our knowledge current by taking CEUs every year.
One of the easiest ways to keep up on current requirements is by checking your home state’s board of nursing website. And when you hold multiple licenses and plan on keeping them for a while, make sure you check them all periodically, since requirements for each state are different, number-wise.
Having multiple state licenses can be difficult, but your recruiter can offer some advice. I luckily only needed my additional licenses for the 2-3 year period that they were issued for and never had to renew them. For those of you who plan to travel for a while, I would take a closer look at the requirements. Most likely all your CEUs you take will work for any state, but the number required will differ.
To my knowledge, most states do not require you to send in proof of CEU when you renew, but many will perform random audits similar to the IRS. But I would never recommend rolling the dice on this one. Get your CEUs done before the month of your renewal; it will make your life so much easier in case you get audited.
Accredited vs non- accredited? There is a difference in the two. Accredited CEUs are approved and peer reviewed by a body of nursing, either a state board of nursing or larger bodies like the American Nurses Association (ANA). Non-accredited units are education that is offered in the field of nursing but hasn’t been officially reviewed or approved. Most states will accept non-accredited units for some of your required numbers, but it’s important to check your state’s website to make sure, and to see how many you need.
If you’re hungry for knowledge and want to do everything you can to advance your career, no one says you have to stop at the required number of units. Go ahead and get all the accredited CEUs you can. Knowledge is power! (Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.)
My final word of advice? Keep up with each state’s requirements, and make sure to pace yourself so you don’t get caught short when the deadline to renew your license rolls around.
[Editor’s note: If you are working as a travel nurse, you may have access to free, unlimited CEUs through your staffing company. For instance, NurseZone’s staffing partners offer travelers more than 160 free CEU courses through RN.com.)