CMEs For Nurse Practitioners RoundupSep 18, 2022
In healthcare, there is never a shortage of new knowledge - and it’s a part of the job as an NP to keep up with all the latest knowledge and guidelines. That’s where CME (continuing medical education) comes in – courses, workshops, conferences, even podcasts – all give you the latest information on your specialty, keep you current with knowledge and techniques, and keep your license and board certification up to date.
We wanted to know where you are getting their CME credits and which CME sources you love, so we asked – and you answered. Read on to find out what your peers are doing for CME, where they are doing it, and how much of a budget they have to spend.
Unsure Of What You Need For CME As A Nurse Practitioner?
When you are just starting out as an NP, having five whole years until you need to renew your board certification can sound like a long time – but trust and believe, those five years will go by much faster than you ever thought they could. Before you know it, you will be needing to renew your board certification, and prove to your professional organization that you have kept up with the ongoing education that is such an important part of our job. That’s where CMEs for Nurse Practitioners come into play.
The details of precisely how many credits you need can vary based on your certifying organization – ANCC versus AANP – but in general, you need to get a certain number of hours of continuing education every certifying period to maintain your board certification. Additionally, to maintain your state NP licensure (and RN licensure), you may need to get a certain amount of credits in a specific topic on a regular basis. And if you are licensed in more than one state, then you have that many more things to track.
It's a good idea to check with your certifying organization and your state(s) Board of Nursing early on to see exactly how much CME you need as a Nurse Practitioner, if there are any specific credits that you need to get (a certain number of pharmacology credits is a fairly common one), and verify the expiration dates. Now you can make your plan with plenty of time to carry it out.
CME Budgets – How Much Time, How Much Money
Most NPs, about 87% we surveyed, have a budget from their employers for continuing education that includes both money and paid time off of work. Unfortunately, though, that left more than 13% of you without any CME benefits – that’s nearly one in five. If you are due to be renegotiating your contract (or taking on a new position), CME budgets can be a good way to improve the overall offer. Having an idea of what others are getting, both in terms of time and money, can prepare you for going into those negotiations with actual data. If your compensation is a little low and your employer just can’t budge on the hourly or yearly rate, having a couple of thousand dollars of CME money (along with an appropriate time off – think a week) can offset the lower salary and bring your overall compensation into better balance.
Speaking of what others are getting – those who do have a CME allowance through their employer reported a budget ranging between $200-$5000, and 29-80 hours of paid time off for CME. An increase in the budget and distinct time off allowance (not PTO, but time off that is specific to CME) can make the difference between cranking out CME online from your couch or traveling to attend a conference at a desirable location. And if you are one of the lucky ones who has a solid, four-figure budget for CME each year, you could use that for new certifications (maybe you always wanted to learn more about dermatology, or become a certified lactation consultant).
Your Favorite CME Courses For NPs And Where You Go To Get Them
There are a lot of options for getting your CME credits, with some clear front-runners.
This certifying body presents a broad array of continuing education options for members. When you sign up for annual membership ($150 as of this publication), you can access free CME online courses, and discounts on annual conferences, online courses, their monthly journal, and more – and if you are a member, you get a discount on your CME, stretching your budget that much further. Another benefit to being an AANP member is that your financial support helps the organization to continue its important work to advance our profession and affect positive change.
This popular podcast also offers free CME (AMA PRA category 1 credits, ANCC credits, and more) – just for listening to their entertaining and informative podcasts. The topics that they cover are broad and are all focused on the things that we see all the time in primary care – think things like headache management, generalized anxiety disorder, H. pylori, and palpitations.
The gold standard of clinical care, constantly updated with the latest evidence-based practice guidelines and peer-reviewed content. And did you know? If you have an account through your employer, you automatically get CME credits (AMA PRA Category 1) for looking up anything and everything in the course of your regular clinical day. (If you don’t have access through your employer, ask for it! Either using your CME budget, if you have one, or as part of your total compensation.)
Real World NP
It’s so gratifying to hear that we are a top choice for your ongoing learning – that’s why we are here! Our Lab Interpretation Crash Course is our best-selling product and comes with 8.7 hours of continuing education through AANP (but don’t worry, it also counts if you’re certified through ANCC!).
Coming up later this month, we have the Managing Diabetes, Hypertension & CKD Review course which is in the AANP Accreditation process – open for enrollment here!
Our weekly episodes on the Real World NP Podcast and YouTube channel cover practical and relevant clinical and role transition topics for new nurse practitioners in primary care, and now also have CME opportunities available through our partnership with CMEfy. Each episode comes with 1 hour of AMA category 1 CME credits when you answer two reflective questions on how the content applies to your practice. Learn more here. They answer all the questions that you wanted to ask – in a lot of cases before you even get to ask them!
If you know that you need CME credits as an NP, but you don’t know where to start, you can check with your state NP organizations, get recommendations from friends, check out the options that we have listed here, or run an internet search.
No matter where in the timeline you are as an NP, do yourself a favor and figure out where you stand, and make a plan to get what you need. Use whatever method that you like to keep track of things – an app, a spreadsheet, or good old-fashioned pen and paper – and map out what you need and check it off the list as you accumulate credits.
The worst part of CME is waiting until the last minute to play catch up. It’s stressful, you won’t retain the information as well, and if you aren’t up to date on clinical topics that apply to your specialty, you may even be doing a disservice to your patients.