Program Approval CE FAQs

Planning Your Program

Q: Are debates eligible for CE?
Yes, talking points for the debate must be outlined in the Program Information area of your application.

Q: Are Q & A periods eligible for CE?
Yes however, they must be preplanned and not open-ended. The Q & A period cannot be longer than the program.

Q: Is the evaluation period eligible for CE?
Yes, attendee evaluations (program/learning evaluations) are eligible for CE credit.

Q: Is testing eligible for CE?
: If appropriate, testing is eligible and should be included with the program. It must be a preplanned event and part of the outline.

Q: Are case studies eligible for CE?
Yes, the case study must be outlined in the Program Information area of your application.

Q: How do I calculate contact hours?
CEs are awarded in 15-minute increments above one hour of contact material. For example, a 75-minute session is eligible for 1.25 contact hours. The minimum number of CEs awarded is 0.5 CE (or 30 minutes of material).

Q: Why are the contact hours on my approval letter different than what I requested on the application?
We calculate the contact hours based on information provided on the Program Information form. Check to be sure that all of your eligible contact hours were listed on this form.

Q: Can I award CE credit if an attendee does not stay for the complete program?
No, partial credit is no longer allowed for half day or full day programs. Participants are required to attend a complete program in order to be eligible for CE.

Q: What are the requirements for program speakers?
All program presenter credentials must be carefully considered and evaluated by the nurse planner. Speakers must be educationally prepared and have content area expertise.

Q: I have multiple speakers. Do I need to include each speaker outline within the Program Information form?
Yes, we require all presentation outlines to be included in the form. This will allow us to validate the requested contact hours, program content and speaker expertise.

Q: Why do I need to provide both a learning and program evaluation to attendees?
The evaluations measure the effectiveness of each educational activity from the learner’s point of view, which supports the assessment of learner needs and provides evaluation of the sponsor’s performance in order to expand, improve and revise the educational design.

Q: Does the meeting planner need to be a nurse holding a current license?
Yes, the nurse must hold a current license.

Q: The Program Information form does not allow enough room for my information; can I alter the form so that I can insert my schedule and content?
No, alterations to our forms are not permitted. If you experience difficulty with our forms please contact the Program Approval department for support.

Q: Why do I need to complete a needs assessment prior to designing the curriculum?
: The needs assessment is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs or "gaps" between what is defined as current versus wanted knowledge.

Q: What are some options for documenting the needs assessment?
We suggest some of the following:

  • Survey or questionnaire given to the targeted audience of the education activity to identify areas of interest, or a need to learn a particular standard 
  • Open-ended interview questions identified prior to interviews so that all potential learners receive same questions 
  • Informal observation based on performance and/or evaluations 
  • Literature review annotated bibliography, evidence-based guidelines or standards that need to be met by learner, and "hot topics" — all within past five (5) years 
  • Previous program evaluation that asks an open ended question like, “What other topics would you like to learn?”

Q: Can I distinguish pharmacy, stroke and trauma hours on my certificate for an AACN CE approved program?
: No, awarding pharmacology hours is beyond the scope of Program Approval. AACN has chosen not to award specific specialty continuing education contact hours.

Q: Do you have a list of the states that currently accept AACN CE approved programs for contact hours?
No, please refer to your state board of nursing to learn what continuing education they is recognize for license or certification maintenance.

Submitting Your Program for Approval

Q: So that I can make the deadline, can I submit an application but mail my payment separately?
No, we don’t accept applications separate from payment.

Q: Can I request that my application be reviewed sooner than the specified turnaround time?
Due to the high volume of applications, we cannot accommodate special turnaround requests.

Q: When does the processing period actually begin?
If your application is complete and payment has been received, we begin processing your application the business day following receipt.

Q: Can I submit an application after a program has been held?
No, we do not grant retroactive approval.

Q: How will I be notified of the results of my application?
We will notify the primary contact of their submission status via email.

Q: How will I know if there are any problems with my submission?
We will email the contact person noted on the application if there are any questions or concerns.

Q: I am applying for a multiday program. Should I submit any other documentation in addition to the application?
Including a brochure or program schedule is helpful, but not mandatory.

Q: Can we list the date of our program “To Be Announced” on the application if a date has not been confirmed?
No, we require a date for quality assurance. The submission only needs to include the first presentation date for the requested approval period.

Q: Can I submit other documentation in lieu of the Program Approval application forms?
No, we will only process applications that are on our required forms. Due to the high volume of submissions, these forms help us process the applications quickly for all of our customers.

Q: Where should I mail my application?
Please mail it to:

Attn: Program Approval
101 Columbia
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Sending your application to the attention of the Program Approval Department will expedite delivery.

Q: If I mail in an application, how can I confirm it has been received/delivered?
We cannot send a notice of receipt for mailed applications. If you would like a notice of receipt, we suggest that you send your application via UPS or FedEx for tracking and delivery purposes.

Q: Can I print out the forms and handwrite the information?
No, handwritten applications are no longer accepted.

Q: I would like to make sure that my application is received, is it OK to email my application and also mail a hard copy?
No, to prevent duplicate files, please submit an application only once. If you would like a notice of receipt, we suggest that you send your application via UPS or FeDEx for tracking and delivery purposes.

Q: I have a large amount of documentation that is currently on a CD in Word format covering our multiple-day symposium. Can I submit the CD, as it is easier to navigate for each session and speaker information?
Yes, A mailed submission in CD Word format or flash drive is acceptable. If you would like a notice of receipt, we suggest that you send your application via UPS or FedEx for tracking and delivery purposes, or email large files via zip file or in PDF format.

Q: How do I withdraw my Application?
: Contact the AACN CE Program Approval Department via email to withdraw an application. A withdrawn application may be resubmitted at any time. However, the application will be considered new and subject to corresponding fees and submission deadlines.


Q: What are the recent CE changes to BLS, ABLS, ACLS, PALS and PEARS courses?
Effective June 1, 2012:

  • ACLS and PALS Provider Courses:
    • Contact hours will be awarded to advanced skilled provider courses such as ACLS and PALS for initial certification only.
      • Nurses attending these courses to renew their certification will not be eligible for contact hours. 
      • AACN does not grant CE for the BLS overview portion of the provider courses.
  • BLS and PEARS Provider Courses:
    • BLS and PEARS providers courses are not eligible for CE.
  • Instructor Courses:
    • Contact hours can be awarded for instructor courses including BLS, ACLS, PALS or similar courses.
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