As health care professionals, continuing education (CE) is an essential part of our career development. For many of us, it’s a requirement every few years to have a set number completed in order to renew our certifications.
Occasionally, state certification boards perform audits to ensure that a health care professional’s credentials are valid and up to date. Audits sound intimidating, but if you’re prepared and organized now, you’ll be ready to survive one easily if it ever comes your way.
What is Continuing Education?
If you’re new to the health care field or to continuing education requirements, or it’s just been a while, here’s a quick refresher. Many states require certain licensed professionals, like nurses, to complete continuing education before they renew their certification. In some cases, it might be your work that requires continuing education.
Continuing education helps keep licensed professionals up-to-date in advances or discoveries in the field or reinforces or reviews important topics. Exact state requirements and continuing education types will vary based on your professional license or certification, so once you become licensed, make sure you keep track of when it expires and what you’ll need to do to renew it.
What Is a CEU Audit?
Many state boards randomly select professionals they license for continuing education audits. These audits are done to verify that these professionals have kept up with the CE requirements they needed to renew their license.
Most CE audits are conducted via random selection. In some cases, though, if you renew your license 30 days after your license expired, or you’ve been disciplined by the board previously, it’s much more likely you’ll be automatically selected for an audit.
If you’re selected for an audit, you’ll get a notification, usually when you go to renew your license, asking you to send copies of your continuing education records to the licensing board along with any requested forms. For that reason, always keep the originals of all of your CE documents for at least four years. Most states will provide at least 30 days for you to respond to the CE audit.
The documents you submit for the CE audit will typically need to contain the following information:
- Your name
- The title of the educational course or activity
- Course code or number
- The program or course completion date
- The instructor’s or provider’s name
- The organization which approved the continuing education program
- The number of hours or credits completed
If the course or program was completed for academic credit, you can normally submit an official college transcript showing your name, the school’s name, the number of credits completed, and the attendance dates.
The licensing board will review the documents, and if it all checks out, you’re good to go.
Can I Fail a CE Audit?
The short answer is yes. A continuing education audit is considered unsuccessful if you don’t complete and/or provide adequate proof of current, acceptable CEs to your state’s licensing board. Even if you’ve completed your CE requirements, you could face disciplinary action if you can’t provide copies of your certificates.
Upon review, if the licensing board sees that you completed your CE requirements after your license has expired or that you submitted make-up credit, in some states, you may be scheduled for a re-audit prior to the next license renewal period.
How to Ensure You’re Always Prepared for an Audit
Most health care professionals won’t ever see a CE audit during their career. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, because an audit can happen to anyone. Here are three tips to help you always be prepared for a CE audit:
1. Stay organized.
One of the best ways to be prepared for an audit is to be organized. File all of your certificates and CE paperwork (digital and hard copies) together with the provider’s contact info to a safe place that you can remember and access easily. That could be in a filing cabinet for important documents or a dedicated folder on your computer or cloud storage.
2. Regularly review your state’s requirements.
Most states provide guidance on how long to keep records. If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is to keep your CE records for at least four years, since license renewal periods typically range from annually to triennially (some states require license renewal once every four years).
States may revise their CE requirements periodically. Although the number they require might not change, they might add specific CE courses that you’ll be required to take. Also, if you move out of state, you may be subject to different CE requirements.
3. Complete your CEs in a timely manner.
Don’t wait to complete your CE requirements at the last minute. Start early to give yourself plenty of time. And because not all courses or activities are accepted, check to make sure the courses or activities you chose will count towards your state’s CE requirements prior to registering for them.
Up to date on your CE requirements? Start finding and booking per diem shifts at local health care facilities using the Clipboard Health app. If you’re a nurse or allied health care professional looking to pick up extra shifts in your area, Clipboard Health is the solution you need. Sign up for work today!