Ten years in to my nurse practitioner career, I’ve started to notice a trend among my former NP school classmates. We aren’t working as much. Many of us have young children and spouses who have simultaneously become more established in their careers. So, many have transitioned from ‘pick up every shift possible to pay the mortgage’ mode to an ‘its not worth it to work weekends’ mindset. But, while many nurse practitioners I’m connected with are taking a step back, they still want to maintain their licensure and certification. 

Whether you want to cut back on practice hours because your finances are in check or you’re prioritizing your family, working enough to maintain your NP certification isn’t a bad idea. You never know what the future holds. You worked hard to become a nurse practitioner so giving up your certification is a major life decision. Not to mention, it’s much more difficult to renew your NP certification if you let it lapse. Just how much will you need to work to keep your nurse practitioner certification?

There are different paths for certification renewal depending on your certifying body. Here are the two options available to family nurse practitioners


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If you’re certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the bottomline is that you’ll need to have 1,000 of clinical practice over the five year certification period (in addition to completing continuing education hours) to renew. If you don’t meet this practice minimum, you will need to re-take the certification exam if you ever want to recertify. What does 1,000 hours of clinical practice in five years look like? It means you’ll need to work about 4 hours each week. 


Certification renewal guidelines for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) are a bit more complex, and as a result give nurse practitioners more options for maintaining certification. All NPs seeking recertification must complete the specified number of continuing education hours (currently 75 CH with 25 of these counting towards pharmacology credit hours). In addition to continuing education hours, NPs must complete one of eight requirements. These range from things like serving as a preceptor to taking academic credit hours at a college or university. One of these options is recertification by practice hours. 

Nurse practitioners certified through the ANCC who renew certification by continuing education + practice hours must complete a minimum of 1,000 practice hours in the five year certification period. So, just like with certification through the AANP, this looks like practicing 1/2 day each week (on average) 

Certifying bodies do not specify when these practice hours need to take place, other than during the five-year certification period. So, you could work full-time for about six months and then not practice at all for about 4 1/2 years and still be eligible for recertification. 

Do you plan to practice enough to maintain your NP certification?


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