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Continuing Education (CE) Basic Requirements

Iowa law mandates continuing education (CE) for nursing licensure renewal. Licensees are responsible for tracking nursing CE credits throughout their renewal period. For more information on renewing your license, visit our Renewals page.

Renewal or reactivation of all licenses requires 36 contact hours of continuing education. Your CE documentation should be ready to turn in for audit purposes and kept for four years. CE credit must be earned within the renewal period to count. 

CE offerings must be at least one hour. Every 60 minutes is one contact hour of CE. After the first hour, every 15-minute increment counts for a quarter of an hour of credit. CEs also must be appropriate subject matter to count. 

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Appropriate Subject Matter

Appropriate subject matter is coursework that applies to nursing practice. Coursework should reflect the educational needs of nurses and the health needs of the public.

Appropriate subject matter for continuing education credit includes:

  • Nursing practice related to health care in any setting
  • Professional growth and development related to nursing practice
  • Patient care and health services
  • Sciences supporting nursing practice, education, or research 
    • e.g., nursing theories and biological, physical, behavioral, computer, social, or basic sciences
  • Social, economic, ethical and legal aspects of healthcare
  • Management or administration of health care, healthcare personnel, or health care facilities
  • Education of patients, or their significant others, students, or personnel in the healthcare field
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Suggested providers of Continuing Education for licensees

Mandatory CE States

Below is a list of US states that require continuing education for nursing licensees.

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Other approved Continuing Education

  • Preceptorship must be for a minimum of 120 hours and counts as 12 contact hours. This must be a one-on-one relationship and part of an organized preceptorship program. The supervising institution will maintain documentation. Precepting may include:
    • Nursing students.
    • Employees transitioning to a new role
    • For more information, review the Preceptor Form and Preceptor Q&A. Completion of a nurse residency program counts as 36 contact hours.

Academic credit counts for continuing education (CE) requirements for the renewal period. All courses must be appropriate subject matter. Courses taken beyond those required for original licensure qualify, including electives and prerequisites.

  • One semester hour is equal to 15 contact hours of CE.
  • One quarter hour is equal to 10 contact hours of CE.

A copy of official college or university transcripts may be requested for audits. The transcript must include:

  • the school's name
  • the licensee's name
  • course date
  • course title taken

Grade reports from a college or university are not acceptable.

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CE That Doesn't Count

  • Self-help and self-care that are not scientifically supported.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support (BLS).
  • Orientation in-service activities.
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