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Renewing Your Nursing License? Here are the Best CE Options in 2023

We’ve got all kinds of information about nursing continuing education and how to find the best CEs to fit your needs.

Credit: Elmhurst University

Did your nursing program ever scare you into believing if your CEs lapsed that, you’d need to retake the dreaded NCLEX? While an unlikely scenario — it depends on the state and how long your license has been expired — it’s never fun to wait until the last minute to finish required CEs or to misplace your stashed certificates with a looming audit from the board of nursing. 

Read on for more information about nursing continuing education and how to find the best CEs to fit your needs. 

What’s It Called, Again?

Continuing education is a large part of nursing and many other professions, but efforts to formalize continuing education were still ongoing throughout the 1900s. Florence Nightingale was a known advocate for lifelong learning in the nursing profession. Still, it wasn’t until the 1960s that nurses spoke out in hopes of ongoing education, and the American Nurses Association started offering continuing education for nurses. Now, a combination of continuing education and practice hours is a requirement for all nurses to maintain and renew their nursing licenses.

When referring to continuing education, you’ve likely heard the terms CE, CEU, CNE, and CME used interchangeably, but they do have some differences:

  • Continuing education (CE). This refers to the general activities a nurse might do to maintain their licensure, like workshops, conferences, or online modules. 
  • Continuing education unit (CEU). A CEU is a unit of measurement to track continuing education activities. Each hour of a CEU is called a contact hour, and a CEU is ten contact hours
  • Continuing medical education (CME). Generally, CMEs are for physicians, but the term may apply to advanced practice nurses and is frequently used by hospitals and clinics as a catch-all term for continuing clinical staff education. 
  • Continuing nursing education (CNE). This term applies explicitly to nurses.

Tips for Doing Your Nursing CEUs

Renewing your license doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are a few tips to stay organized:

  • Verify your state’s requirements. Go to the website of your state’s Board of Nursing. Check the “license renewal” section, log into your portal, or call the Board of Nursing (BON) to clarify any questions. For a starting point, you can check out a list of each state’s requirements at, but these are subject to change. 
  • Know which states you need to renew. If you have a Compact license, your CE requirements are based on the state where you have declared your primary residence. You must maintain CE requirements for each state if you have multiple licenses outside the Compact. For example, New York requires continuing education on child abuse identification and reporting.
  • Stay organized. Have a digital or physical folder with your login information, renewal deadlines, and CE certificates. Update your calendar with any important dates.

Getting the Most Out of Your CEUs

Even though CEUs are required, it doesn’t mean you have to take the most boring CEUs possible. 

Ask yourself the following:

  • What complex diagnosis do you often encounter at work that you want to learn more about? If you work in labor and delivery, do some continuing education on preeclampsia diagnosis and pathophysiology.
  • Is there a procedure you often do that you could get some education on? For example, if you administer pediatric vaccines, the CDC offers continuing education on every standard childhood vaccine with best practices and parent education tips. 
  • Do you want to consider changing specialties, or is there a topic unrelated to your job you think you could be passionate about?
  • Is there an upcoming conference you want to attend that is providing CEUs?
  • Do you have enough practice hours to become certified in your specialty? Your CEUs could be centered around completing your certification.

Nursing CEU Roundup

The “No Fuss” Option

Looking for the simplest way to get it done?

  • Your Employer. Your company may have yearly competencies that provide CEUs. Check with your management team to see if this is available to you. Check with your state BON to ensure there aren’t additional state-specific requirements your employer doesn’t offer. 

Additionally, some employers do offer CE reimbursement. Sometimes, portions of conferences, out-of-pocket CE course costs, or hourly pay are reimbursable to the nursing staff as an employee benefit. 

The State-Specific Options

If you want an option where you plug in your state of licensure and get an all-inclusive renewal bundle, these are for you. 

  • With, you can buy an individual module or unlimited membership for $49 per year. They offer a state renewal package for a streamlined option and also provide about 15 free standalone modules. 
  • Nursing CE Central. This is another option with a state renewal bundle, which costs an annual fee of $39. They also have other modules grouped by professional topic. 

The Freebie Option

Don’t want to spend any money on your CEs this year? We got you!

  • Incredible Health. Many of the other CE websites do offer some free modules, but Incredible Health offers a wide variety of free courses and also goes through the effort of grouping them by state for easier renewal. There are over 50 free courses to choose from. They require you to create a free account and download the Incredible Health app to access the CEs. 

The Plentiful Options

You should browse many course options to choose a CEU that inspires you. 

  • CEUFast. CEUFast has nearly 250 courses for a $39 annual subscription fee. There are a variety of courses based on specialty. While you can access many of these modules for free, you can download a certificate with your contact hours once you purchase the subscription.
  • Wild Iris Medical Education. Unlike CEU Fast, Wild Iris has an a la carte model, so you pay for each course you want to take. With over 100 courses available, categorized by specialty, plenty of options exist. With this website, you can also view the course, but you won’t have access to your certificate without a purchase. They also have two free CEs available. 
  • Nursing CE. This option has over 250 courses, ranging from $5 to $30 per course, with no annual membership fee required. They also have specialty packages, like a “Women’s Health CE Package,” with multiple CEs bundled. Nursing CE also has three free CEs available.
  • The American Nurses Association. The ANA offers about 150 CEs. The most unique feature about their CEs is that many offer very high credit hours, some beyond 20 hours. This is an excellent option if you need a large amount of CEs. They require you to purchase the courses individually and provide a discount for ANA members. Courses range from $20 to over $500, like nursing specialty certification review courses. 

The Bottom Line

When you renew your license this year, don’t forget to stay organized and find a CE opportunity that feels right for you. Free, streamlined, or specialty-focused CE options are all available depending on your professional nursing goals this renewal season. 

Want more nursing license hacks, tips, and tricks? Subscribe to The Nursing Beat so you don’t miss a thing! 

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