The licenses of RNs and LPNs in Alabama are good for two years — valid from the first day of each odd-numbered year and expiring the last day of each even-numbered year. In each of those two-year periods, 24 contact hours of continuing education (CE) are required.
Requirements for the first license renewal include the study of Alabama Board of Nursing functions, the Alabama Nurse Practice Act, regulations, professional conduct and accountability. After this first period, the topics of continuing education credits are ample and varied.
How Valuable Are CE Credits?
If you wish to retain your license, a minimum of 24 CE credits are required every two years.
Beyond that, the benefits are improved quality of patient care, evaluation on the job, and elevated status among your peers. Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, aka “The Nerdy Nurse,” writes, “You owe it to yourself and the patients you serve to continue to enhance your nursing practice through continuing education.”
Most employers consider ongoing education in assessing a nurse’s job performance, and that is often tied to pay increases. If you want to get the next raise, it pays to meet or exceed your required CE hours.
Healthcare is one of the most rapidly changing fields in modern society, and those who don’t work to keep ahead fall behind. It’s always important to refresh your knowledge about new techniques and treatments, new laws and professional protocols, and improved methods of teamwork and organization.
You can tailor your CE credits to your own needs or interests. A few examples of CE topics that can help make you an expert in your field are occupational health and safety, infection control, cardiology, pharmacology, pediatrics, and specialty modules on the body’s systems (e.g., as respiration, digestion, and endocrinology).
Nurse Journal notes, “Nurses don’t practice by the same standards they did 20 years ago or even five years ago so it’s important for nurses to make an effort to stay informed of impending changes to their nursing practice.”
BSN and MSN Credit
In the state of Alabama, “pursuit of a higher degree in nursing” counts toward CE requirements.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s RN to BSN curriculum includes such classes as psychology, statistics, information management in healthcare, leadership in professional practice, and evidence-based nursing for the practicing RN, plus many more. You can earn a BSN online in as few as 12 months, and fulfill your CE requirements at the same time.
CE credits and furthering your nursing education are part of your professional responsibility as a nurse. The evidence is strong that nurses who embrace improving their knowledge and skills help provide improved outcomes for patients.
The National Association of Neonatal Nurses reports, “Continuing education has been shown to increase nurses’ professional behavior and improve the knowledge of patient management and nursing practice.”
The long history of rational medicine has depended upon research, discovery, proof of treatment, and adoption of new procedures in the field. Where that chain of outcomes becomes real is the point at which physicians and nurses treat individual patients. If nurses do not keep up, their chosen profession will leave them behind.
Learn more about the UAH online RN to BSN program.