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continuing education budget

How much continuing education budget is enough for a nurse practitioner?

As a nurse, you probably did not receive an annual stipend to support your required continuing education requirements. As a nurse practitioner however, it is far more common to have an annual allotment for this specific purpose. Although negotiating your salary as a new-graduate nurse practitioner may not be as viable an option due to normalized pay practices and wRVU models, it is certainly worth considering your continuing education allotment as fair game for negotiation.

Nursing Students Studying - NP Continuing Education

What do I have to do?

If you are newly certified, you will need to plan for a 5-year renewal window for your certification in most cases, and as such, you do have some time to get this all together. The smartest move is to make sure your job skill-specific training is covered as your first order of business (more on that below). Depending on what you do for your NP role, you may find this varies from the training you felt lacking in any portion of your school or perhaps skills you know will afford you additional procedural revenue opportunities. In the general sense, the absolute minimum you will need is 75 hours of continuing education credit each five years, but without additional things such as additional scholarship, additional education, presentations, or precepting, you may require as many as 150 hours in that same period.

A note on state-specific requirements

Many states will have unique requirements also. For example, Illinois requires 80 hours every two years, with 20 of those hours being pharmacology-related content, and 10 hours being specific to opioid prescription and substance abuse education. In addition, there is a one-hour annual training required for sexual harassment education due every year.

Each state has a different requirement and a different timeline, so do your homework on what your unique licensure and state will require. In many instances, the first renewal cycle will not include all these hour requirements due to the varied entry to the cycle, but all licenses after the first renewal are obligate to the full requirement of these hours and content.

What do I want to do?

Now you’ve met the requirements, now you have the opportunity to do all the “fun stuff”. What’s fun to you? Would you like to learn that can make you more valuable? Sometimes this is content that makes you more efficient at work, such as brushing up on x-ray interpretation, EKG interpretation, or lab values. Perhaps this could be learning new procedures such as orthopedic casting and splinting, joint injection and ultrasound use, or perhaps it is cosmetic or aesthetic medicine, or perhaps it is office procedures and more advanced suturing techniques!

Whatever it is for you, spend the time to research what your best options are to help you be more confident in your patient panel. Some nurse practitioners may even choose to go on for specialty training in first assisting to be able to work in the operative setting (if you want to learn more about my path becoming a first assistant, you can read more about it here). Not only does this training benefit your ability to generate revenue in the hospital setting, it allows you to develop a particular skillset which translates beyond one work environment. It is also a one-time cost to become trained as a first assistant and as such, may be a value-add to your employer without having to re-spend your continuing nursing education money each year on this.

How much money is enough?

Back to this question. If you know what your “needs” and “wants” are from the two sections above, you can more adequately answer this question. In most cases, a reasonable sum to meet the hourly requirements for these skills may be anywhere from $2000-5000 per year. More procedural areas may require the higher end of that range, whereas more outpatient settings are likely to be in the lower range. Don’t forget that training which may be more time-intensive will require you to budget more education days or simply take regular vacation days in exchange if the counteroffer does not give you the number of days. Remember this is training you can take with you down the road if you decide the current job is not a long-term fit and your investment is not in vain.

If you want to learn more about how to negotiate, you should probably check out the Interviewing and Negotiating for New NPs.

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