Understanding How Continuing Education (CE) and Pharmacology are Used for Certification or Recertification

  • Updated

Recertification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) requires that NPs must obtain a minimum of 100 contact hours of advanced CE credit, and at least 25 of those hours need to be classified as Pharmacology related CE. If you are not familiar with the AANPCB Renewal Requirements, we highly recommend you visit their renewal webpage at aanpcert.org/recert. This page contains a link to the recertification handbook and additional information on what you will need in order to recertify your licensing.


When it comes to understanding the CE and Pharmacology credit requirements for recertification, it is important to know that CE credit is considered the “primary” credit and any Pharmacology credit that is listed with it considered a “component” of that credit.  Pharmacology credit is included in CE contact hours, it is not counted as a separate or additional credit.  The image below illustrates that pharmacology credit earned is credit that is already included as part of your CE total.



Here is an example that helps explain the primary/component credit designation. Say you find a CE activity that is worth 2.5 contact hours of CE and it is a presentation over Diabetes.  During the presentation of the activity, the speaker might bring up some different medications that can be used to help treat or manage diabetes. Any time any kind of pharmacology topic or medication is discussed during a CE presentation, a certain amount of Pharmacology credit can be included as a component of the overall CE contact hours. The presenter may not spend the whole 2.5 hours talking about medications related to the topic. They may only spend 30 minutes talking about medications – which would equal roughly about 0.20 towards pharmacology credit. The pharmacology credit that is listed with an activity isn’t considered “extra” time spent with the presentation (the presentation is still 2.5 hours long and that is how much time you spent with the activity) – it is just a way to show a breakdown of the credit time towards a specialized component credit of the overall whole CE.  So, when looking at the completion of a presentation example like mentioned above, you’d say that you “Earned 2.5 contact hours of CE, 0.20 of which can be applied towards Pharmacology credit”.


When you are ready to recertify, you can look at your CE and Pharmacology credit totals in your CE Tracker tool. Make sure to set the display dates for your CE Tracker to match the dates of your recertification period (remember to click "Apply" to make sure those date-changes update the page!). When looking in the upper-left corner of your CE Tracker tool, you'll be able to clearly see how much CE and Pharmacology credit you have and determine how much more you might still need.



NOTE: If there are different credit types listed in this area other than CE and Pharmacology, those credit values may need to be included separately if they were not already included as part of the CE you earned previously with an activity. Determination of these values depends on the activity, the credit type that was awarded and recorded, and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for inclusion with your overall CE total. You may find the information in this document useful when reading your CE Tracker credits: Common Continuing Education (CE) Credit Types.


If you are unsure about what kind of credit types the AANPCB will accept or how those different credit types convert to CE or Pharmacology credit, you will need to reach out to AANPCB with those specific questions. Please see their contact information below. 


Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)


Was this article helpful?




Article is closed for comments.