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How Non-Physician Practitioners Maintain Credentials with AMA Credits

By September 25, 2023Providers

The AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ system was developed by the American Medical Association as a criterion for determining the value and quality of continuing medical education activities. The AMA credit system is well established with a reputation for reliability. It’s used by dozens of state medical boards and medical professional associations to promote professionalism and skills advancement in a wide range of non-physician practitioners, in addition to physicians.

Nurse Practitioners

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) does accept AMA PRA Category 1 Credit earned through CME activities.

CME activities can help to earn CHs and CEs towards re-credentialing with state nursing boards and the AANP. The primary criteria for qualifying activities include the enhancement of professional nursing development as well as the promotion of knowledge and skills needed in the NP practice. NPs are encouraged to complete CE such as AMA accredited CME that focuses on current evidence based data, national clinical standards, and specialty best practices.

Many states have separate contact hour requirements for RNs and advanced practice nurses, including NPs. As with RN requirements, contact hours, CE, and CEUs all indicate different continuing education criteria for NP certification.

The AANP Certification Board accepts continuing education (CE) contact hours from activities approved by the American Medical Association (AMA), Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), ANCC, and AANP. NPs recertify with the AANP’s AANPCB every five years. Practitioners need 100 hours of advanced practice CE, 25 hours of which must be in advanced practice pharmacology.

Members of the AANP can earn CME credits in the following formats:

Live, in-person CME:

  • Advanced practice provider CME (live events)
  • ACCME accredited medical conferences
  • Workshops designed to build clinical skills or specific medical procedures
  • Grand rounds

Enduring materials for self-study:

Physician Assistants

For physician assistants who are members of the AAPA and receive certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), CME is required for maintenance of certification (MOC) points and state medical board licensure.

PAs may claim a maximum of 20 Category 1 credits for completing qualified accredited CME. The NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit from organizations accredited by the ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

The NCCPA requires PAs earn 100 accredited CE credits every two years. At least 50 of these can be Category 1 credits. The 50 remaining credits can be AMA PRA Category 1 Credit or AMA PRA Category 2 Credit or both. The NCCPA encourages participation in Category 1 Self-Assessment activities by weighting Self-Assessment points more heavily towards the biannual 100 credit total.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Every state requires periodic recertification for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNS). Exact requirements are dictated by state nursing boards. Generally, registered nurses and those in nursing specialties earn contact hours through various continuing education experiences including CE, CNE, and CME. 39 states require continuing education courses for nurses to renew their licenses every two to three years.

In many states, CME does not contribute to state mandated contact hours (CH) for registered nurses. It can, however, contribute to ANCC credentialing. Check with the CME provider as to the number of CEs that can be earned with a CME activity, if any. Remember, units CE are not equivalent to nursing CH.

Some regulatory and professional bodies do accept AMA PRA Category 1 Credit activities towards overall CE requirements, including the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The ANCC uses CH to tabulate progress toward CE recertification criteria and does not use the CEU to measure continuing nursing education credit. The value of AMA PRA Category 1 Credit towards CE requirements is as follows:

1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit = 1 contact hour for RNs

Advanced nursing professions eligible to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit include nurse midwives (CNM), clinical nurse specialists (CNS) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA). APRN sub-specializations such as cardiac nurses, psychiatric nurses, and oncology nurses, among others, can earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credits towards certification with the ANCC based on the specific requirements of their sub-specialty. APRNs are required to recertify with the ANCC once every five years.

It is important to note that registered nurses (RNs), APRNs, and NPs cannot apply AMA Category 1 Credits earned with American Medical Seminars, or any other accredited provider, to board licensing requirements in any state (as of this writing). Additionally, RNs cannot earn AMA PRA credits for any portion of their ANCC credentialing.

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