Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center Standards and Criteria for Continuing Education Program 

Course Content

The content of all continuing education courses must be relevant to the practice of registered nursing and must be:

  • Related to the scientific knowledge and/or technical skills required for the practice of nursing, or
  • Related to direct and/or indirect patient/client care

Learning experiences are expected to enhance the knowledge of nurses at a level above that required for licensure.

It is the responsibility of the provider to clearly state through the course description, course objectives, and outline how the course content relates to the practice of nursing.

Acceptable Course Content
Examples of general courses requirements are:

  • Theoretical content related to scientific knowledge for the practice of nursing.
  • Advanced courses in physical, social and behavioral sciences. Some examples are:
    • Physical sciences - pathophysiology and psychology courses related to subspecialties in nursing.
    • Social sciences - physical or cultural anthropology, sociology of the family, and social structure change.
    • Behavioral sciences - psychology courses including abnormal psychology, child psychology and mental health.
  • Courses where the primary focus is recent scientific knowledge applied to direct or indirect patient/client care.
  • Content related to Direct Patient/Client Carecan include but not be limited to:
    • Advanced courses on any type of patient monitoring equipment (fetal, cardiac, respiratory, etc.).
    • Patient education strategies.
    • Certification/recertification skills such as: advanced life support (ALS), audiology, etc.
    • Skills courses (stoma care, etc.).
    • Cultural and ethnic diversity
    • Foreign languages (conversational) and sign language
    • Therapeutic interpersonal relationship skills with patients/clients
    • Courses in any specialty area of nursing practice, including occupational health nursing, school nursing, office nursing, etc.
  • Content related to Indirect Patient/Client Carecan include but not be limited to:
    • Nursing administration or management, nursing education, or nursing research.
    • Statistics
    • Advanced courses on any type of patient monitoring equipment (fetal, cardiac, respiratory, etc.).
    • Quality assurance
    • Legal aspects of nursing
    • Assertiveness
    • Teaching multi-ethnic students and staff
    • Retention of nurses in the health care delivery system, including cross training
    • Current trends in nursing and health care
    • Establishing a professional nursing business or independent practice
  • Other courses:
    • Courses that deal with grief, human sexuality, kinesiology, nutrition, crisis intervention, counseling, stress reduction, burnout syndrome, advanced nursing courses and advanced pharmacology

Unacceptable Course Content

Per the Montana Board of Nursing;

  • self-directed study such as reading of texts or journal articles for which continuing education contact hours have not been awarded by an accrediting organization;
  • participation in clinical practice or research for which contact hours have not been awarded by an accrediting organization;
  • attendance at professional meetings or conventions, except those portions for which continuing education contact hours have been awarded by an accrediting organization;
  • participation in community service or volunteer practice; and
  • participation as a member in a professional organization.

Course Requirements

The program or course content must be relevant to both the educational needs of the registered nurse and health needs of the consumer. The content must be current and designed to include recent developments in the subject area being taught. Course offerings must be at least one hour in length. Credit for completing part of a course may NOT be granted. Thus if a person attending the course comes 15 minutes late or leaves before the course is over, they are not to be issued a certificate of completion. Multiple day courses can be broken into several segments and contact hours can be provided for each segment successfully completed.

Criteria for successful completion are based on the desired outcome related to knowledge, skill, or practice. Determination of the criteria for successful completion is undertaken by the planning committee and must be decided in advance of the activity. Criteria for successful completion is determined in advance and must be disclosed to the learner prior to the learner’s engagement in that experience. If there is a post-test or return demonstration, for example, the learner needs to know that a passing score of xx% or successful demonstration of a skill will be required in order to receive contact hours.

Course Objectives

Course objectives describe measurable behaviors or outcomes the student will demonstrate or achieve upon completion.  Objectives should contain what they should know, have the ability to do or perform in practice. An example of a student' s behavioral objective or outcome is as follows: "Upon completion of this program, the nurse will be able to: a. Describe the latest treatment options used for patients with_____, b. Assess a patient for the three most common objective or subjective symptoms of _____, c. Evaluate the patient's response to treatment of _____, d. Identify five behaviors of substance use disorder, e. Discuss two way to care for patients with ____, f. Define legal and moral responsibility in ensuring informed consent, etc."

Instructors' goals are not acceptable behavioral objectives or outcomes. For example:

"To inform the student about the latest advances in the treatment of patients with _____" is a goal of the instructor, not an instructional objective.

All courses are required to clearly state the overall course objectives or have a clear, concise course description in brochures and other advertisement so participants will know in advance what they can expect to learn.

Course Evaluations

As part of the evaluation process, it is recommended that all courses are evaluated for at least the following:

  • The extent to which the course met the objectives.
  • The applicability or usability of new information.
  • The appropriateness of teaching methods used.
  • Other comments.

Instructor Requirements

Registered nurse instructors need to have a current valid license, be free from any disciplinary action by the Board, and be knowledgeable, current and skillful in the subject matter as demonstrated by a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited college or university and validated experience in the subject matter, or experience in teaching similar subject material.

Non-nurse instructors must be currently licensed or certified in the area of expertise if appropriate and show evidence of specialized training in the subject area .

Awarding Contact Hours

Each contact hour is at least 50 minutes of instruction in an organized live learning environment. Evaluation time is part of the learning experience and can be included in calculation of contact hours. Learning time does not include general introductions, breaks, meals, and viewing vendor displays.

Each hour of theory/online/enduring materials equals one continuing education contact hour.

Proof of Attendance and Certificates

Providers must issue a document, such as a certificate to each licensee to show that the individual has met the established criteria for successful completion of a course. The Certificate or Documentation of completion must include:

  • Name of learner
  • Title and date of the educational activity
  • Name and address of provider of the educational activity (web address acceptable)
  • Number of contact hours awarded
  • Provider statement "These CEs are approved for the Montana Board of Nursing CE requirement, they MAY NOT be approved for other state board requirements or certifications."

Record Keeping

Activity flies must be retained for 4 years and should contain:

  • For live educations the curriculum vitae or resumes for all instructors.
  • List of participants names and number of contact hours awarded to each person
  • After the activity, add to the file; the summative evaluation data


Co-Sponsoring a Course

The Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center is willing to work together with other organizations which we share a mission and vision with.  In order to co-sponsor an educational event, the nurse planner from the Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center needs to be involved in the educational design process. The co-sponsor is required to maintain all required of the course for 4 years. The certificate must have the co-sponsor as well as the Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center name on the certificate as well as the disclaimer.