Guidelines for Pharmacotherapeutic (Rx) Contact Hours

Advanced practice nurses with prescriptive authority are required to obtain pharmacotherapeutic credit for a certain portion of their contact hours for certification renewal as well as for license renewal. The exact process varies a bit, depending on the certification body, but the general guidelines are the same. Please check with your state boards of nursing for licensure requirements related to prescriptive authority in your state and other certification body requirements, as needed.

Pharmacotherapy is that area of practice that is responsible for ensuring the safe, appropriate, and economical use of drugs in patient care.


Content eligible for meeting criteria for pharmacotherapeutic contact hours includes:

  1. Overview of the disease or disease process for which medication therapy is required (context for appropriate medication therapy)
  2. Scientific rationale or evidence-base of the use of medication therapy for a disease or disease process
  3. All content related to prescribing/recommending safe and appropriate use of medication therapy, including cost-effectiveness
  4. All content related to the safe administration of medication therapy, including but not limited to dosage, route, frequency, delivery devices, administration devices and similar
  5. All content related to monitoring of medication therapy
  6. All content related to possible side effects and/or adverse effects of medication therapy
  7. All content related to special considerations related to medication therapy
  8. All content related to adjunct therapy that may be used in conjunction with medication therapy

Additional guidelines:

  1. If a provider/applicant is developing content to meet the ANCC pharmacotherapeutic hour requirement, content must specifically address pharmacotherapeutics
  2. Pharmacotherapeutic content does not need to be presented by a nurse for the hours to be eligible for re-certification; however, the presenter must have content expertise in pharmacology
  3. When developing the content for an educational activity, it is recommended that the provider delineate the number of pharmacotherapeutic contact hours
  4. Existing continuing education courses/programs that include pharmacotherapeutic content may be reviewed to calculate the appropriate number of pharmacotherapeutic contact hours
  5. When a speaker develops content for an educational activity, it would be advised that pharmacotherapeutic contact hours contained within the presentation be calculated at that time

Pharmacotherapeutic content may include but is not limited to drug specific information, safe prescribing practices, safe medication administration, prescribing methodologies, new regulations or similar content.


Example: During planning, the nurse planner and planning committee make the decision to award pharmacotherapeutic hours in appropriate situations. It is helpful for an APRN with prescriptive authority participate on the planning committee to help determine the appropriate level of content for APRNs. The content would need to be related to prescribing considerations of the APRN. If a portion of the content relates to pharmacotherapeutics, the certificate would state, “5 contact hours, including 3 pharmacotherapeutic hours”.