Keeping Your Nursing Credentials Up to Date – The Definitive Guide

nurse backpack mobile app for nurse credential and license management

Be proud of your accomplishments!

Nurses should proud of their credentials, with good reason. The alphabet soup that follows your name on resumes and official documents is a reminder to employers (and yourself) of your academic achievements. When kept up to date, your training and credentials help you provide the best possible patient care – and may present future opportunities in comfortable professional positions.

That alphabet soup is always needing something though. The trouble is in keeping your credentials and certifications 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 pain points and the best solution to each problem.

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 handy mobile app keeps all your vital information at your fingertips. You’ll never forget a renewal deadline again and you’ll be ready to send your complete resume to a potential employer with a button press.

Check it out, download it from your favorite App Store today.

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Nurse Backpack is a free mobile application that enables professional credential management for end-users themselves. Alerts, reminders, resume package building and sending is possible for free from the mobile app. Built for nurses originally, school nurses, nursing students, lifeguards and many other professionals also use the app for their license and credential management.