Keeping Your Nursing Credentials Up to Date – The Definitive Guide


Nurses are proud of their credentials, and with good reason. The alphabet soup that follows your name on resumes and official documents is a reminder to employers (and yourself) of your amazing achievements. When kept up to date, your training and credentials help you provide the best possible patient care – and might even land you a job offer.

The trouble is in keeping them up to date. Since most nurses hold multiple credentials and licenses, keeping track of expiration dates can be a nightmare. Here are some of the most common credentialing headaches (and how to overcome them).

Managing Nursing Credentials and Continuing Education Credits

The most basic requirement for every practicing RN is to earn a certain amount of continuing education units (CEUs) during each license period. Almost all states have a minimum amount you must earn, and nurses with licenses in multiple states will have to meet the standards of each state’s Board of Nursing. Though progress is being made towards a nationwide standard (mostly thanks to the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact), RN licenses do not yet cross all state borders. Not only does each state have different standards regarding the minimum amount of hours to complete, but many also require specific training to be completed each year.

Because of the different standards of each state, the situation can quickly become complicated. For example, compare these two neighboring jurisdictions and their licensing requirements.

District of Columbia

  • Renewal every 2 years on June 30th
  • Minimum of 24 contact hours, including 3 hours of HIV/AIDS education


  • Renewal every 2 years on your birthday
  • Either 15 CEUs plus 640 hours of active practice, or 30 CEUs

As you can see, a nurse who meets the requirements for their Virginia license may have more than enough CEUs to apply for a license in neighboring Washington, DC. However, they may have to complete additional education in order to meet the specific subjects that the District of Columbia demands. Since many nurses maintain licensure in multiple states, especially when living near a border, it is best to take advantage of resources that help you track your credentials.

Specific Job Requirements

In addition to the unique requirements of each state, your employer may have unique standards for you to meet. While basic CPR training is generally valid for two years, for example, your employer may require you to complete a refresher course every year. As such, you should never take it for granted that your credentials will be accepted before asking your supervisor.

Nurses who take their career seriously soon end up with a long list of documents to track:

  • state licenses;
  • continuing education credits;
  • special credentials (BLS, ACLS, etc.);
  • employer references;
  • physical exams;
  • skills checklists; and
  • college transcripts.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could save all your essential documents in one safe place? We created the Nurse Backpack app just for you. This innovative software keeps all your vital information at your fingertips. With the app’s help, you’ll never miss a renewal deadline again, and you’ll be ready to send your complete resume to a potential employer with a flick of your finger. To learn more about the app, contact us today.