New Jersey Nursing License Defense Attorney Gives His Opinion On How Nurses Handle CEU’s
Nurses are often asked to explain patient complaints that have been sent in by their current or former employer. The nurse is asked to provide a narrative of the events for the board so that they can make a determination as to whether any discipline is warranted.
In each and every correspondence for the board, they also ask for proof of completion of continuing education units (CEU’s) for the cycle during which the patient complaint took place.
So, for example, if a patient complaint took place in 2013, the board would ask for proof of completion of the required 30 hours of CEU’s for that reporting period. Why do they do this?
The Board of Nursing regulations, as with many professional licensing boards, has a continuing education requirement. The requirement is that nurses take 30 hours of continuing education units during their two year license period. Nurses are required, upon demand, to provide proof of completion of these units.
Nurses are also required pursuant to the regulations to maintain proof of this completion for a four year period. The board could conduct audits for compliance, but there are many, many licensed nurses in New Jersey and it would difficult to create a comprehensive audit program.
What I have noticed is that this is an effective way to monitor compliance with the CEU requirement. I have also noticed that in many cases the nurse’s response to a patient complaint or a hospital complaint can be satisfactorily explained to the board.
However, if the nurse cannot provide documentation that he or she has completed the required CEU’s, he or she is subject to a fine, possibly a reprimand or even a Provisional Order of Discipline suspending the nurse until such time as the nurse can document compliance with the requirements.
This order will become part of the nurse’s permanent disciplinary record, even if there is eventual compliance with the CEU deficiency. That is why it is key to not only complete the required CEU hours, but to maintain copies of them in case you are ever required to produce them at a date in the future.
When renewing a license, nurses are required to certify that they have completed the required hours. If this cannot be proven at a later date, the board takes the position that the question about CEU’s was answered dishonestly, and may subject the licensee to discipline.
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