During the September, 2010, Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) meeting,
the final rules related to continuing competency requirements were adopted.
These rules went into effect on January 1st, 2011. Registered
Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses will be required to begin maintaining documentation/verification
of compliance illustrating at least 531 hours of active practice and 45 hours of
continuing education every three years. The three year period begins with the
nurse’s 2011 birthday date. Audits for compliance will begin in 2014.
Licensure renewals will continue to be on an annual basis; however, nurses will
be expected to sign an attestation every three years to reflect that they are compliant
with the requirements for both practice and continuing education hours.
Find out more: Read the
Frequently Asked Questions
Tools: Continuing Education Hours Tracking Sheet (.xls) | Practice Hours Tracking Sheet (.xls)
.xls files are Microsoft Excel format.
Definition of Active Practice
The Commission defines “active practice” as engagement in paid, unpaid, or volunteer
activity performing acts requiring a nursing license as described in
RCW 18.79.040. This may include working as a nursing administrator,
nursing quality manager, nursing policy officer, public health nurse, parish nurse,
home health nurse, nursing educator, nursing consultant, nursing regulator or any
practice requiring nursing knowledge and a nursing license. In
other words, active practice is NOT limited to the provision of direct patient care.
The Commission recognizes that nurses use their nursing knowledge in a variety of
positions and roles.
“Unpaid practice” is defined as providing uncompensated services
considered within the scope and domain of the nursing profession. Examples include:
A nurse volunteering time to a church (parish nurse), or a nurse volunteering nursing
services at a community clinic. There is a wide range of opportunities within the
nursing profession to participate in unpaid service to the community.
Need practice hours? Look here for volunteer opportunities!
Verification of Compliance with Active Practice
Verification of compliance with the active practice hours requirements may include
such evidence as:
- Pay stubs showing hours worked;
- A statement including description of the practice setting, duties and responsibilities,
and the signature of a supervisor;
- A log book documenting active nursing practice and the signature of a supervisor
verifying the hours;
- Verification from an appropriate health care provider documenting the number of
hours of home care for a friend or family member.
Definition of Continuing Nursing Education
The Commission defines “continuing nursing education” as “systematic
professional learning experiences obtained after initial licensure designed to augment
the knowledge, skills, and judgment of nurses and enrich nurses’ contributions to
quality health care…. The education hours should relate to the nurse’s area of professional
practice or areas identified through reflection and self-assessment for professional
growth and development. If the nurse is audited, questions may arise requiring
the nurse to explain how the selected continuing education activity is relevant
to their practice or desired professional growth and development.
Verification of Continuing Education
Evidence of compliance with the continuing education hours requirements may include
- Certificates of satisfactory course completion;
- A current certificate from a nationally recognized certifying body;
- Meeting minutes or meeting attendance rosters documenting participation in professional
nursing organizations or employer sponsored committees;
- A final transcript or transcript of classes documenting current progress towards
an advanced degree in a field related to nursing practice;
- Documentation of completion of a nursing research project as the principal investigator,
co-investigator, or project director, such as summary of findings, thesis, dissertation,
abstract, or granting agency summary;
- Publication or submission for publication a health care related article, book chapter,
or other scholarly work;
- Presentations on a health care or health care system related topic with documentation
such as a program brochure, agenda, course syllabi or a letter from the offering
provider identifying the nurse’s participation;
- Documentation of independent study.
More materials and tools to facilitate documentation of compliance are under development.
WSNA will be providing a series of educational offerings to help nurses better understand
these new requirements. Both the Nursing Commission and WSNA web pages will have
information for quick reference. If you have specific questions, please contact
WSNA at: firstname.lastname@example.org