Crystal Gustafson
Crystal Gustafson
July 24, 2017 - 3 min read

Continuing Education for Travel Nurses – Know the Basics

In the world of travel nursing, maintaining your own Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) is of utmost importance. You can no longer rely on your pesky nurse educator to hunt you down making sure you complete all of your required learning for the year; it is up to you to make sure you stay up to date on the latest and greatest in healthcare.

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State Licensing

As a travel nurse, it is very likely that you’ll have to apply for a nursing license in at least one other state or many others depending on the extent to which you travel.

Applying for another license always requires a background check and in some instances, fingerprinting through a national database. This process isn’t difficult, but it can be time-consuming and requires some patience.

Your travel nurse agency will be able to walk you through the process. In addition to background checks, some states require certain CEU’s in order to acquire a license in their state.

For example, the state of Florida requires specific CE’s on domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, and preventing medical errors to acquire their license. After you receive your RN license in Florida you then have to complete a minimum of 24 CEU’s in order to renew your license every 2  years and also pay a fee.

If you have a compact nursing license, you will have to maintain your home state’s CEU requirements and complete any additional mandatory learning depending on the other compact states that you travel to. Depending on which state you hold your original nursing license and how many other licenses you maintain, keeping up with CEU requirements and fees for each state can be costly.  Here is a list of all states and their CEU requirements.

Why Accreditation is Important

The topic of license reimbursement becomes keyTravel Nurse CEU's when choosing a travel nursing agency and negotiating contracts. It is important to go with a company that offers free accredited CEU’s.

Accreditation means that the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has identified that CEU provider as an organization that uses evidence-based ANCC criteria to implement the highest quality of care. This allows nurses to choose high quality CEU’s that meet their licensure requirements.

Non-accredited CEU’s have not gone through the rigorous application process and have not met the standards for continuing education according to the ANCC. Most states will not accept these CEU’s as valid, so be careful not to pay for non-accredited CEU’s. It is pretty standard for travel nursing companies to offer free CEU’s or at least reimburse you for the cost. However, it is not standard for these companies to reimburse you for the cost of the actual license. If there is a high demand for travel nurses in a certain location, make sure you request to have your license fee reimbursed. If they need you badly enough, they will likely reimburse you.

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How to Obtain CEU’s

If you do happen to choose a company that does not offer free CEU’s, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to obtain your Continuing Education Units. I can’t tell you how many times I have received pamphlets in the mail for CEU’s.

The state of California even sends out an entire booklet with 30 CEU’s in it. I think the booklet cost $35 and all you have to do is mail in a form. You don’t even have to take a test!

I always kept my eye out for education hosted by the hospitals I was currently working in. Most of these education days are free and award CEU’s. Most people aren’t aware that Basic Life Support (BLS) renewal offers 2 units while Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) renewal provides 4 units.

Most national nursing organizations such as the American Association for Critical Care Nurses (AACN) offer a plethora of CEU’s if you belong to their nursing organization. If you prefer to learn online and in your own time, here are a few websites that offer CE’s: Continuing Education for Healthcare Professionals, Online CEU’s, and MyFreeCE.

I know when nurses hear the term CEU, we all tend to cringe. However, the fact is, health care and how we deliver it is constantly changing. We’ll never know it all and our system will never be perfect. CEU’s provide us with the knowledge and power to grow ourselves and improve the safety and efficacy of the way we deliver care. 

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