Guide: Continuing Education for Nurse Practitioners (Requirements, Courses, and More)

CMEList August 20, 2019

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are required to participate in continuing education (CE) activities every year to maintain their both their American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification as well as their license from their state licensing body. In addition to helping NPs maintain critical licenses, continuing education activities for Nurse Practitioners are beneficial because they will help develop knowledge and skills essential in delivering positive patient satisfaction and outcomes. NPs have multiple options to complete their requirements and broaden their knowledge including online courses, conferences, seminars, and more.

Check out some FAQs Nurse Practitioners have regarding continuing education and learn more about your specific requirements and how to complete those requirements conveniently and quickly.

How Many CE Credits do Nurse Practitioners Need to Earn?

Nurse Practitioners need to earn a specific amount of CE credits to maintain their AANP board certification as well as their license from their state licensing body.

How Many CE Credits do Nurse Practitioners Need to Earn to Maintain their AANP Board Certification?

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners requires NPs to earn at least 100 contact hours of advanced continuing education every 5 years to recertify. Of these 100 contact hours, at least 25 of them must be Pharmacology CEs. NPs do have the option of forgoing the Pharmacology requirement and precepting instead. The AANP describes precepting as “serving as a clinical preceptor for interdisciplinary advanced health care student(s) while providing direct patient care as a nurse practitioner in your area of certification.” 125 precepting hours is the equivalent to 25 Pharmacology CE hours.

How can Nurse Practitioners Complete the AANP Pharmacology Requirement?

Nurse Practitioners can complete their Pharmacology CE recertification requirement with the BoardVitals Pharmacology CE board review activity. This online activity contains over 200 Pharmacotherapeutics questions that NPs can complete to earn up to 25 Pharmacology CE credits. The questions are up to date and can be accessed on a user’s laptop, phone, or tablet.

Are there Any Additional CE Requirements Nurse Practitioners Must Meet to Maintain their AANP Board Certification?

In order to maintain their AANP board certification, Nurse Practitioner must also hold their RN license at the time of certification. Similar to NP requirements, each state board has specific requirements for RN re-licensure.

Is there an Alternative to Earning CE Credits Rather than Earning CE Credits to Maintain your AANP Certification?

Nurse Practitioners have the option of recertifying by passing the A-GNP or FNP National Certification Examination rather than earning CE credits. It is important to note that this is not a recertification option for ANP or GNP certifications.

How Many CE Credits do Nurse Practitioners Need to Meet their State CE Requirements and Maintain their License?

Nurse Practitioners need to earn a specific number of CE credits dependant on which state licensing board they belong to. For example, the NPs that are licensed in California are required to earn 30 hours of CE every 2 years to renew their license.

The requirements may vary drastically by state and some states actually have no requirements. Make sure to check out your state board’s specific re-licensure requirements so you are aware of exactly how many you need to earn.

What are the Best Online Nurse Practitioner Courses to Meet My CE Requirements

There are many online courses Nurse Practitioners can complete to earn CE credits but some of the most popular are:

  • BoardVitals CME Pro Plus Bundle
  • Audio Digest Nurse Practitioner CE Compendium

BoardVitals CME Pro Plus Bundle

The BoardVitals CME Pro Plus Bundle offers CME board review courses covering many specialties that may be of interest to Nurse Practitioners including psychiatry, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and more.

NPs can earn up to 100 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM answering the online board review questions depending on the specialty they select. The CME credits NPs earn from this activity will count towards meeting your AANP recertification requirements and some state re-licensure requirements.

Another benefit is that NPs can get up to a free $2,000 Amazon or Apple gift card with purchase of this CME bundle.

Audio Digest Nurse Practitioner CE Compendium

The Audio Digest Nurse Practitioner CE Compendium offers convenient audio lectures covering 5 specialties including adult-gerontology, emergency medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and women’s health.

The number of CE contact hours you can earn varies depending on which specialty you select. For example, the adult-gerontology program offers up to 766.25 CE contact hours.

NPs can also get either a $200 or $500 Amazon or Visa gift card with their purchase of this program.

Where Can I Find Free Nurse Practitioner CE Credits?

Nurse Practitioners can earn CE credits for free with these online providers:

  • NursingCE
  • Pri-Med

Nursing CE Free Courses

NursingCE is a leading provider in online courses for Nurses and Nurse Practitioners. They offer activities covering CE credits for free covering various topics including tobacco dependance, autism, and civility in the workplace.

Their courses are easy to use and can be accessed conveniently on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Pri-Med Free Nurse Practitioner Courses

Pri-Med offers free CME/CE courses covering many topics for a wide range of medical professionals including Nurse Practitioners. Examples of free courses for Nurse Practitioners include:

They offer CE activities in multiple formats including podcasts, online courses, online webinars, and more.

What are the Best CE Conferences for Nurse Practitioners?

There are many conferences that Nurse Practitioners can attend to earn CE credits but some of the best are:

  • National Conference for Nurse Practitioners
  • 2019 AANP Fall Conference

National Conference for Nurse Practitioners

The National Conference for Nurse Practitioners (NCNP) is considered one of the best CE conferences NPs can attend. It is held bi-annually and this year it will be held on September 24th - 27th in Las Vegas, NV.

The conference offers NPs “educational sessions relevant to advanced clinical practice giving you the tools you need to improve the overall quality of patient care.” The different types of sessions NPs can attend to earn CE credits include evidence-based educational sessions, hands-on workshops, and skill-building sessions.

Examples of topics NPs will have a chance to learn about include:

  • Opioid Prescribing
  • Mental Health
  • Diabetes

2019 AANP Fall Conference

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) holds a NP conference every year and in 2019 the AANP Fall Conference will be held on October 10-13, 2019 in Las Vegas, NV.

This conference offers attendees a chance to gain evidence-based continuing education and a chance to interact with leading influencers in the NP community.

In total, there are more than 70 educational sessions that NPs can attend to earn CE credits. An attendee can earn up to 21 NP contact hours by attending these various sessions.

How Much Does Continuing Education for Nurse Practitioners Typically Cost?

The cost of continuing education can vary drastically. NPs who choose to earn their credits primarily via free activities will have a lower cost but likely a longer process than those who earn most of their credits via a pricier bundle such as BoardVitals CME Pro Plus.

NPs should select courses that best fit their budget and CME allowance. In most cases, an NP will receive an allowance between $1,200 - $2,000 from their employer, which should be enough to earn all your required CE credits