What’s Wrong with Free Nursing CEUs?

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So, what’s wrong with Free Nursing CEUs; or is there anything wrong? There are many sources offering free nursing CEUs for a variety of reasons and they each need to be considered when considering this question.

Employer Continuing Education Units for Nurses

Perhaps the most common source of free Continuing Education Units for nurses and other health care professionals is the employer. One of the most cost effective perks employers can offer is to provide free CEUs for some of the trainings they provide employees that help improve their job skills and knowledge base. This helps ensure that nurses, aides, therapists, social workers, chaplains, etc. are up to date on the latest trends and techniques and everyone is on the same page.

It also affords employers the opportunity to ensure staff have taken any mandatory courses such as those that are required by the Board of Nursing for relicensure. Or perhaps the corporation has some mandatory education courses that can qualify for CEUs as well. Often the continuing education units are small in number. However, employers may offer enough courses over the usual 1-2 years allowed to amount to a significant number of units to help fulfill the required hours to be earned.  This makes the offering of the CEUs a valuable and competitive ongoing employee perk or benefit.

Online CEU Providers

Again, these are usually 1-2 CEUs for a course. Here at NursingCE.com, you can read and review the course for free, and pay only when you need the certificate. These courses offer 3-6 CEUs upon payment.

Professional Organizations Offerings

Celebrating Nurses Week is another opportunity for employers as well as professional organizations to offer free CEUs. For instance, the American Nurses Association offers a free CEU course for nurses during Nurses Week each year (May -12). The course is usually on a timely subject to help ensure all nurses have an opportunity to lean and understand new concepts and issues. Nurses don’t need to be ANA members to take advantage of this offering. Some professional organizations also offer discounts and free CEUs as membership perks. 

Specific Mandatory CEU Courses

The nursing CEU requirements vary from one state to another. Many states have one or more mandatory courses for nurses each renewal period. Topics include workplace violence (that is developing into downright terrorism), domestic abuse and violence, biohazard terrorism, disaster and related surge preparedness and infection control. In some instances, these are available from the state’s BON as free CEU courses for nurses, and sometimes they require payment.

In Colorado, there are no CE requirements for RNs, LPNs or APRNs, but employers may require CEUs. In contrast, Florida has several requirements. The initial licensure of both RNs and LPNs requires 2 CE hours of medical errors, 2 hours in Florida laws and rules, 2 hours of recognizing impairment in the workplace, and 1 hour of HIV/AIDS.

Beginning in 2015, Florida implemented a requirement that nursing CEUs for RNs and LPNs must include a 2-hour course in the rules and laws pertaining to nursing in Florida each renewal period. In August 2017, the mandatory course on recognizing impairment in the workplace was added and must be taken every other renewal period. (Renewal periods are every 2 years.)  

LPNs Also Need Nursing CEUs

For LPNs, the Florida BON requires a 2-hour course in preventing medication errors each renewal period, and every third renewal period an additional 2-hour course in domestic violence. This means every third renewal LPNs are required to have 26 cues instead of 24. 

Many of these courses available from NursingCE.com where you can take the courses for free, and then pay only if you need the nursing CEUs.

Know Your Requirements

It’s the responsibility for all nurses to be aware of the CEU requirements for the state they are practicing in, and to acquire the CEUs prior to the expiration of their license. Some states require CEUs to be completed 30 days in advance of the expiration. Most employers want to see a new license well in advance of the expiration. It’s to the nurse’s advantage to fulfill this obligation as soon as allowed by their state BON.

Disadvantages of Free CEUs

There are obviously some advantages of free ceus for nurses. However, one disadvantage could be said to be that free units only seem to cover the most basic topics. If for instance, you’re looking for a course about Pain Management or Oncology nursing to go into detail and help you become more skilled or perhaps transition into a new field, it’s likely you won’t find free CEUs covering these topics.

Pain Management, when explored in-depth, is a complex course that is most usually found in the realms of 24 to 30 nursing CEUs. The basics of exploring pain as the 5th vital sign and how to interpret pain scales could be covered in a shorter course and offered for free especially when used to entice new clients to sign up for multiple course packages. But an in-depth course is not likely to be offered as a free continuing education course for nurses. 

Free CEU courses, while not in-depth, do offer some value and standardized continuing education to keep nurses up to date on social, safety, and very basic care issues. However, nursing is a lifelong learning experience and nurses looking to expand their skills or knowledge base while fulfilling licensure requirements may find themselves sorely disappointed that free CE courses don’t live up to this standard.

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