FAQs: AACN Pharma Hours

Effective January 1, 2014, AACN and American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) certified clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners must complete 25 of 75 required contact hours in pharmacotherapeutics.

To meet the growing need for continuing professional development in pharmacotherapeutics, AACN identifies educational content that can be applied to this requirement as “Pharma Hours.”

Pharmacy content includes topics such as drug specific information, safe-prescribing practices, safe medication administration and prescribing methodologies.

For more details about the AACN requirements, please refer to the Renewal Handbook for your certification. It can be found on the Documents and Handbooks page.

Q: What are Pharma Hours?
Pharma Hours are continuing nursing education contact hours offered by AACN related to pharmacotherapeutics.

Q: Why is it important to earn Pharma Hours?
Effective January 1, 2014, advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) will be required to renew APRN certifications with a minimum of 25 of the 75 required contact hours in pharmacotherapeutics.

Q: Which APRN certifications are affected by this requirement?
AACN and ANCC certified clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and nurse practitioners (NPs).

Q: Is this new policy required for relicensure by the state boards of nursing?
A: A number of Boards of Nursing have recently implemented licensure renewal requirements for APRNs, which include mandatory pharmacology CEs. Please check with your state board of nursing for APRN pharmacology CE requirements.

Q: What criteria does AACN use to determine pharmacotherapeutics contact hours?
Pharmacological continuing nursing education contact hours contain:

  • Relevant principles of physiology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
  • Rationale for "drug of choice" selections, including evidence-based guidelines.
  • Goals of drug therapy, desired effects and evaluation of patient responses including management of adverse reactions.
  • Special dosage situations, including age-specific considerations.
  • Results from relevant clinical trials.
  • Cost comparison information when indicated.

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