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Nursing Continuing Education

Nursing Continuing Education

Finding the Right Nursing Continuing Education Courses

Nursing continuing education, or CNE, is a necessary part of every licensed nurse's career. Each of the 56 boards of nursing (50 states plus the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories) require every Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse and Registered Nurse to achieve a certain number of acceptable CNE credits before he or she can renew a nursing license.

Nursing is a competitive yet understaffed field of medicine in the United States . Although they may battle the traditional white hat and white shoes stereotype in society, in the hospital nurses can hold as much responsibility as doctors. To uphold the quality and standards of medical care, nurses are required to participate in nursing continuing education programs in order to keep the 'RN' at the end of their name.


The requirements for the number and type of CNE credits differ according to state regulations. A CNE contact hour is considered 50 minutes of educational time. Nursing continuing education programs are organized and classified into two types, Type I and Type II.

  • A Type I CNE program has been accredited by a state nursing board-approved accreditation center. Accreditation centers include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nursing Association.

  • A Type II CNE program meets the requirements of the state nursing board, but is not accredited by one of the associations; these include programs that may be approved for other fields of medicine but not necessarily nursing.

Further resources for those who are looking into nursing continuing education include:

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (www.aanp.org) is the 'largest and only full-service professional membership organization in the United States for Nurse Practitioners'. Find information here on conferences and education.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org) provides a directory to the individual state nursing boards and plenty of information on nursing licenses and regulations.

The American Nursing Association (ANA) represents '2.7 million registered nurses through its 54 constituent member associations'. The ANA has information on accreditation and continuing education for nurses at www.nursingworld.org.

The ANCC (www.nursingworld.org/ancc) provides information on and links to accredited CNE programs. The ANCC boasts that over 150,000 nurses are certified to ANCC standards.