Program Approval Chapter FAQ

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Planning Your Program
Submitting Your Program For Approval
Awarding Synergy CERPS

Planning Your Program
Q: Are debates eligible for CE?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Yes, attendee evaluations (program/learning evaluations) are eligible for CE credit.

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

Q: Why are the contact hours on my approval letter different than what I requested on the application?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: All program presenter credentials must be carefully considered and evaluated by the chapter 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?
A: 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?
A: 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: Can I submit Previously Developed Educational Content for CE approval?
A: Yes however, when using previously developed content, the nurse planner must ensure the content meets the needs of the educational assessment, have learning objectives and content that is current and not just the same presentation of the “old” material.

Q: Does the meeting planner need to be a nurse holding a current license?
A: 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?
A: No, alterations to our forms are not permitted. If you experience difficulty with our forms please contact the Program Approval department for support.

Q: One of our local chapters would like to offer the same dinner program we presented and our CE approval is still valid, can we share the approval with them? And also, can the CE certificate have their chapter name on it or does it have to have ours? 
A: AACN does not allow transfers of approval however; chapters can collaborate and present the same program using the following guidelines:

The approved chapter is responsible for record keeping.
The CE certificate must reference the approved chapter name along with the approval file number.
Q: Why do I need to complete a needs assessment prior to designing the curriculum?
A: The needs assessment is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs or ‘gaps’ between what is defined as current vs. wanted knowledge.

Q: What are some options for documenting the needs assessment?
A: 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 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 hours on my certificate for an AACN CE approved program?
A: 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?
A: No, please refer to your state board of nursing to learn what continuing education they is recognize for license or certification maintenance.

Q: When sending out brochures, can chapters print on the brochure that AACN CERP's (no approval required) will be distributed before the CE approval process is completed? 
A: Yes, chapters can advertise that AACN CERPs will be provided. CERPS can always be made available to attendees regardless of CE approval. 

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

Q: Can I request that my application be reviewed sooner than the specified turnaround time?
A: Due to the high volume of applications, we cannot accommodate special turnaround requests. You can request rush service for an additional $60 fee.

Q: When does the processing period actually begin?
A: 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?
A: No, we do not grant retroactive approval.

Q: How will I be notified of the results of my application?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Include a brochure or program schedule.

Q: Can we list the date of our program “To Be Announced” on the application if a date has not been confirmed?
A: 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?
A: 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: Is it possible to submit for CE approval and then later request an addendum to add hours? 
A: Yes, we do allow chapters to make changes to approved programs using the following guidelines:

The requested changes must allow for a 20 business day turnaround timeframe.
If the presentation date does not allow for 20 business days, the chapter may pay for rush service. 
The additional contact hours does not exceed the total contact hour range of what has already been paid for.  
Q: Where should I mail my application?
A: 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?
A: Unfortunately, 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Contact the AACN CE Program Approval Department via e-mail 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: I have noticed “Blackout” period announcements but do not see the information in the program approval policy?
A: The blackout period does not apply to AACN Chapters. Chapters may apply for CE approval all throughout the year.

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Q: Our chapter will partner with a local hospital; can they keep the educational records?
A: No, if the CE application was submitted as a chapter event, the chapter is responsible for keeping educational records for four (4) years.

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Awarding Synergy CERPS
Q: Can a chapter award synergy CERPs for educational offerings that do not qualify for Continuing Education credit?
A: Yes, chapters may offer CERPs for educational programs via a certificate of attendance. We have a CERP certificate of attendance template available on the program approval webpage located under the "Resources" header.

Q: How does Synergy CERP differ from CE?
A: Synergy CERP is a program exclusive to AACN for nurses wishing to recertify through AACN. Please visit our Certification webpage for more information.

Q: Do you have a list of States that accept Synergy CERP Category credits towards renewing a nursing license?
A: No, please refer to your State Board of Nursing to become familiar with what they accept.

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Q: Does a chapter need a written contract if there will not be an exchange of money and the company does not sponsor meals?
A: Yes, when a chapter enters an agreement with other organizations (sponsors, etc.) it is in the chapter’s best interest to have a letter of agreement for any external support they receive. This is proactive in avoiding some potential issues.

We suggest the following guidelines for agreements:

Draft a letter of agreement (can be a simple email) which states who, what, where, when, and why. Include everything you and the vendor agreed to verbally. This will help protect the chapter while at the same time putting down in writing what is expected of the chapter and the vendor. 
Forward agreement to at AACN National for review. 
Provide a volunteer receipt. This acknowledges the speakers contribution to the nursing community. 
Review the sample Letter of Agreement in the Contracts area of the Chapters page of the website that can be modified for your needs ( > Contracts > scroll down to the sample agreements). 
Q: Before sending National the Agreement-Dinner Meeting contract, does the contract need to be signed first and then submitted to AACN for approval?
A: Contracts should be unsigned when submitting for approval. If there are any clauses that do not protect the chapter/AACN, there is still time to re-negotiate. Please review to the Chapter Contracts area of the website for more information.

Q: Our speaker is not being paid an honorarium but our chapter will be donating money to his charity of choice through funds obtained from grants. Does the speaker need to sign a W9?
A: No, you only have the speaker sign a W9 if you’re paying them an honorarium. The W9 is an IRS form.

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Q: What are the recent CE changes to BLS, ABLS, ACLS, PALS, and PEARS courses?
A: 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 courses are not eligible for CE.

Instructor Courses
Contact hours can be awarded for instructor courses including BLS, ACLS, PALS or similar courses.