Getting Started in our new System
Managing your Organization
Please know we’re happy to help along the way. All questions can be emailed to email@example.com directly and the application can be submitted online whenever you’re ready. The online system is accessible at www.mtnurses.smapply.org.
First and foremost, you’ll need a nurse planner. The Nurse Planner is an RN with an active, unencumbered license, a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing, and is responsible for ensuring that appropriate educational design principles are used and that processes are consistent with the requirements of ANCC criteria. This person does not necessarily have needed to serve in this role before, but if they’re new to it we’re happy to talk on the phone or correspond via email with them to discuss the role if they have questions. You’ll also need a second planning committee member. The role of Content expert needs to be filled, either by the nurse planner, or another planning committee member, but a minimum of at least 2 people need to be serving on the planning committee.
Okay, I have a nurse planner—now what?
The general idea of the process is that you’ll submit your application online and an MNA team member will check all of them to make sure we have all the parts and pieces we need. This is what we call the Initial Quantitative Review (IQR) phase. MNA may have a request or two for you in this phase, but after everything is in order, all materials will go to peer reviewers for a qualitative look at your application components. Peer reviewers will evaluate the application as it relates to ANCC criteria, and they may have some requests as well. Once all of the information submitted meets ANCC accreditation program criteria and the activity is approved, you’ll receive an official approval letter for you to keep in your files, and the application will remain in your online portal for later viewing.
Uploads to prepare prior to submission:
In addition to the application document, you’ll need to upload a few attachments along with it (the system will prompt you when appropriate).
Conflict of Interest Forms (if necessary) for each of your planners and speakers. Sections 1-3 need to be completed by the speaker or planner, and then sections 4 & 5 should be completed by the nurse planner. The only exception is for the nurse planner’s form because they can’t verify their own form—the nurse planner will complete sections 1-3 and then have someone else within your organization or planning committee to review & verify it. Note: These forms are not necessary if you won’t be discussing any topics that might relate to products consumed by or used on patients (i.e., topics like leadership have no risk of relating to patient products—a session regarding diabetes treatments certainly could relate to drugs, pumps, etc.).
Agenda (if necessary) – The planned agenda for your activity so that we can verify the contact hours, if your activity is more than 2 contact hours.
Disclosures – The learner must be informed of certain things prior to the beginning of the educational activity. Disclosures can be on advertising material, an agenda, the opening page of a syllabus, or introductory PowerPoint slides. Please ensure we have evidence of these disclosures (i.e., if you will project them on an introductory slide, include the slide as an attachment; if they’ll be on the agenda, we’ll already have them). Required disclosures include:
- Your activity approval statement (see online application for this language)
- Requirements for successful completion as described in the application
- Conflict of interest information for everyone in a position to control the educational activity (see language suggestions below*)
- If applicable, name(s) of organization(s) providing commercial support
- If applicable, the expiration date of your material.
- If applicable, name(s) of organization(s) jointly providing the activity in conjunction with the stated activity provider
Certificate – A copy of the certificate to be awarded to learners upon completion of the activity. The certificate must include:
- Space for the name of the learner
- The name and address of the provider (web address is acceptable)
- The name of the educational activity
- The date the certificate was issued
- The number of contact hours awarded
- Your activity approval statement (see online application for this language)
Commercial Support Agreement(s) (if necessary): If commercial support has been received for the activity, attach a copy of the signed agreement(s) used. A lot of commercial entities will provide their own agreements for your organization to use, but if you need to provide one, click here to access a template.
*Possible language for Conflict of interest disclosures:
- If there is no conflict of interest, one example statement is “There is no conflict of interest for anyone in a position to control the content of this activity”.
- If there is a conflict of interest, one example statement is “There is no conflict of interest for anyone in a position to control the content of this activity except Susan Smith, who is on the speakers’ bureau for XYZ Pharmaceutical Company”.
Effective November 25, 2019
- The application fee relates to the cost of conducting quantitative and qualitative reviews
and does not guarantee approval of the activity. Retroactive awarding of contact hours
is not allowed under ANCC accreditation criteria; the activity must meet all accreditation
criteria and be approved before learners participate in the activity in order for contact
hours to be awarded.
2. The application fee is based on the number of contact hours for your activity.
a. 0.5 – 4.1 contact hours $100
b. 4.1+ – 8.1 contact hours $200
c. 8.1+ – 15.1 contact hours $300
d. 15.1+ – 20.1 contact hours $400
e. 20.1+ – 30.1 contact hours $600
f. More than 30.1 contact hours – Contact MNA for fee information
3. The application fee is invoiced when your application is received at MNA and the
number of contact hours has been determined.
4. A late fee will be charged for applications submitted to MNA less than 20 business days
prior to the scheduled start of the activity.
a. 0.5 – 4.1 Contact Hours $50 + application fee as noted above
b. 4.1+ – 8.1 Contact Hours $100 + application fee as noted above
c. 8.1+ ‐15.1 Contact Hours $150 + application fee as noted above
d. 15.1+ – 20.1 Contact Hours $200 + application fee as noted above
e. 20.1+ – 30.1 Contact Hours $300 + application fee as noted above
f. Activities over 30.1 contact hours will not be accepted for expedited processing
5. Any activity submitted 5 or fewer business days prior to the activity will be assessed an
additional $250. The application may be refused if staff and peer reviewers are
unavailable to complete the review prior to the activity.
6. If the nurse planner presents evidence of active membership in MNA, the applicant is
eligible for a 20% discount on the application fee. Evidence of membership must be
provided at the time the application is submitted. There is no discount for late fees.
Our new system is online and accessible via this address: www.mtnurses.smapply.org It’s a relatively intuitive platform, but below are some friendly tips we’ve either gotten a lot of questions about or have learned the hard way.
When you start to set up an account, select “Register as an organization” and then key in the organization information. After you’ve done that, you should have a “Manage Organization” button under your name in the top right corner of the screen—if you click on that, you can click the “Members” option in the center of that management page, and click the grey “Add Members” button. This will allow you to invite any other members of the team, including anyone who works on items like the certificate/agenda, etc. Be sure to invite the nurse planner and be sure to check the box that mentions sending an invitation when you add each member. *This makes your jobs much easier in the long run!
Very Important: be sure you’re always functioning within your organizational profile, not your personal profile. This has been the top question since launching the platform. The top left corner of your screen should look like this:
Be sure the name selected is that of the organization and not your own. Your organization will have the little building logo so you know it’s a company and not a personal account.
Now you’re ready to start applications! You can do this in a number of ways, but basically you need to get to the Programs page (you can click “My Applications” at the top of the screen, then click “View Programs” from the panel on that page). When you click the “Apply” button after going through a few screens, you’ll punch in the title of your activity. After you title it, you should automatically be taken to a screen like this:
Click the grey “Add collaborator” button on the bottom left and add the nurse planner (NP) and any other applicable team members for each month. Emails will be automatically generated, so that is why it’s important to have at least the nurse planner included.
The system does have a “help desk” for you as an applicant though, so that may also be helpful with general questions. To get there, just click on the “i” icon in the top right corner of the screen (to the left of your name).
Basic Activity Information:
Name of Applicant Organization should be the name of the organization offering the educational activity. This is the name that will appear on marketing materials and the certificate issued to participants.
Title of Activity should be the name of the educational activity as it will appear on marketing materials, learner materials, and the certificate.
Number of contact hours is the number of hours you desire to award for the learning activity.
- UPDATE 01/2020: Contact hours may now be rounded to the nearest quarter. For example, if the time of the activity calculates to 2.76 contact hours, you can round down to 2.75. If the time of the activity calculates to 2.9 contact hours, you can round up to 3. Note the key word “may” – you are not required to adjust the number of contact hours; you can still award whatever number you calculate by taking the total time of the activity and dividing by 60.
- The unit of measure used in nursing continuing education is the contact hour, not the CEU. This is an important distinction, as the two terms do not mean the same thing. Please be sure that all of your marketing pieces, learner materials, and certificates correctly reference the contact hour.
- For “live” activities, calculate this number as follows: Include time spent in each session or part of the learning activity, including the time spent in completing any evaluation process. Do not include time spent in welcome/introductions, breaks, lunch, or viewing of vendor exhibits.
- For enduring materials (e.g. web based individual learning modules, independent study booklets, videotapes), pilot testing is often the mechanism of choice to determine how long it takes a select group of learners representative of the target audience to complete the activity and its evaluation process. The average of those times is then used to determine the number of contact hours to be awarded to learners. Other methods of determining contact hours for enduring materials include use of evidence-based formulas related to word count and difficulty (such as the Mergener formula) or material or historical data in publications. Please contact the MNA Continuing Education Department for additional information if needed.
- Provider directed, provider paced activities occur when the provider controls the content, time and pace of the activity. Learners participate in “real time” educational experiences. Indicate the date(s) that the activity will be offered to learners and the location (city/state) where the event will be held. Please be aware that applications must be submitted in ample time for peer review and approval to occur prior to the activity. Retroactive awarding of contact hours is not permitted.
- Provider directed, learner paced activities occur when the provider controls content, but learners can access the education at a time, place, and pace of their choosing. Examples might include independent study articles in professional journals, web-based learning on learning management systems, or archived webinars. For these events, please specify how you determined the number of contact hours you plan to award. See “number of contact hours” above, and contact the MNA Continuing Education Department with any questions about how to calculate contact hours for these types of activities. Note that these activities meet the definition of “enduring materials”, meaning that they exist over time. All enduring materials must be reviewed and revised at least once every renewal period (if you choose to renew the activity after the 2 year approval period) depending on the time-sensitivity and relevance of the content. Learners must be informed of the expiration date of enduring materials.
- Blended activities incorporate components of both “live” and “learner-paced” materials, although the event is not “enduring”. For example, a learner may be required to read an article prior to attending an activity and come prepared to discuss it. The learner can get contact hours for both parts of the learning experience. Specify how you determined the number of contact hours you plan to award for each component of the activity.
Commercial support means that a company that makes, sells, markets, or distributes products consumed by or used on patients is providing money or in-kind support (like wound care products for skills practice) for your activity.
Joint providership means that two or more groups work together to plan and implement an activity to meet the needs of learners in both groups. Please be sure that marketing material and the certificate are issued in the name of the provider (you), not the joint provider(s) (the other group(s). A written agreement is not necessary. Please contact MNA if you have questions about jointly providing.
Conflict of Interest Assessment:
Does the content of this activity have a relationship with any products consumed by or used on patients?
If you’ll be discussing topics that may touch on treatments (current drugs, homeopathic options, etc.), equipment (bolsters, lifts, beds, etc.), or other topics that may run the risk of relating to products, answer YES. *Please note, even if you’ve instructed speakers not to discuss any particular brand of products but they will be discussing treatments, drugs, or products, there is still a risk of conflict of interest and data needs to be collected.
If you’ll only be covering topics such as leadership skills, recognizing symptoms, and self-care for healthcare workers, answer no.
Nurse Planner – Provide the name, credentials, email address, phone number, and state of licensure for the nurse planner. This is the person MNA will hold accountable for adherence to all accreditation criteria.
List the members of the planning committee and faculty or others who have the ability to control the content of the educational activity.
- Be sure the planning committee consists of at least two people – the nurse planner and one person with expertise in the content of the learning activity. Even if the nurse planner is also a content expert, there must be two people on the planning committee. Document information as required on the application itself, then complete a conflict of interest form for each member of the planning committee, unless the box has been checked indicating that these forms are not needed.
- Note that employees of commercial interest entities as defined on page 2 may not serve as members of the planning committee or as presenters for a continuing nursing education activity.
- On the table in the application (there will be a spreadsheet for you to download, edit and then upload), enter the name and credentials of each person, that person’s role(s) in the activity, the name of any relevant commercial interest entity with which the individual has a relationship, and the type of relationship that person has. You will find additional information about how to identify these relationships on the conflict of interest form.
Educational Design Criteria
A. What’s the problem?
For a Single Activity: What is it that nurses are not currently doing that they could or should be doing? What are they doing that they should not be doing? Professional practice gaps reflect the difference between what learners currently know, have the ability to do, or perform in practice compared to what they should know, have the ability to do, or perform in practice. An educational activity is designed to close that gap.
For a Conference: What is creating the need for people to come together? What practice issue(s) are currently a problem? What are opportunities for improvement for this group of people?
Description of the professional practice gap: Professional practice gaps reflect the difference between what learners currently know, have the ability to do, or perform in practice compared to what they should know, have the ability to do, or perform in practice. An educational activity is designed to close that gap. Prior to developing an educational activity, it is necessary to identify the gap and determine the reason for its existence. What is the problem in practice or opportunity for improvement? A problem in practice may be that nurses are not using appropriate infection control practices, so the rate of patients getting catheter-acquired urinary tract infections is too high, compared to benchmark data. An opportunity for improvement may exist because learners are not aware of new guidelines for managing the care of stroke patients. The first step in planning an educational activity is to ask, “What is the professional practice gap, and why does it exist?” In this section, you identify the problem the activity is designed to address; this is not the “purpose” of the activity.
B. Evidence to support the existence of the problem
For a Single Activity: Why does this problem exist? What data tells you that this is a problem? You might look at information from your organization that shows there is a need for improvement, then provide benchmark data to show that things could or should be better. For example, nurses in this facility do a procedure with 80% accuracy; the national average is 92%. You might identify that nurses and other members of the healthcare team are not working together to coordinate care, leading to a higher than expected rate of avoidable readmissions. Another example might be that nurses are not comfortable teaching parents about pediatric immunizations, leading to a low immunization rate in your community.
For a Conference: Why does this need exist? What data do you have that says that it would be valuable for these people to come together? This will probably be a broader data base than for planning an individual activity, because you are typically engaging people from a regional, state, or national perspective.
Evidence to validate the professional practice gap: Why is it that learners are not doing what they should be doing? Why do they do something they shouldn’t be doing? Do they not know what to do? Do they not know how to do something? Do they not have the ability to perform a skill? Do they not have the ability to transfer their knowledge and skills into the practice setting? Why is the current practice no longer acceptable? (e.g. new guidelines have been published). Briefly describe the evidence you have that supports why the practice gap exists.
C. Educational Need
For a Single Activity: What needs happen first in order to improve this situation? Do people need to know something? Perform skills better based on what they already know? Use what they already know and can do in the practice setting? Choose the level of educational need that best matches what you’re trying to do in this educational activity to address the problem.
For a Conference: Same as above – is the gap related to knowledge, skill, or practice? For a conference, in most cases, the focus will be on knowledge acquisition.
Educational need that underlies the professional practice gap: Check the box indicating the level of learner need for the education: knowledge, skill, or practice. When multiple levels of need are identified, focus on those that are most fundamental to addressing the problem in practice. For example, learners must have knowledge prior to being able to develop appropriate skills. The level of educational need should be supported by your data in “A” and “B”.
D. Target Audience
For a Single Activity: Who does the problem affect? Who needs the education? This might be nurses only, but we encourage you to look at team-based learning whenever possible. Quite often, making sure the team is working together is what’s needed to address the problem.
For a Conference: Who will be attending the conference?
Description of the target audience: Who will be participating in this educational experience? All nurses? Specific groups of nurses, like RNs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? Members of different professions – medicine, pharmacy, pastoral care, social work, and nursing?
E. Desired measurable outcome
For a Single Activity: What do you want learners to know or be able to do at the end of the activity? Is it a gain in knowledge? Successful demonstration of a skill? Be sure you can measure this – you need to be able to show that your education has improved practice or professional development. An example of a desired measurable outcome for an activity would be that 100% of nurses accurately explain the CDC-recommended pediatric immunization protocol.
For a Conference: At the end of the conference, what new information do you expect people to have? How are you going to measure their gain in knowledge?
Desired learning outcome: What will learners know or do differently once they complete the educational activity? How will this change close (or at least lessen) the professional practice gap that created the need for the activity in the first place? The outcome should be specific to the identified level of educational need – if the gap was in knowledge, what measurement will tell you that the learner has gained knowledge (example: score 100% on a post-test)? If the gap was in skill, what measurement will tell you that the learner has gained skill (example: demonstrate steps in completing a procedure with 100% accuracy)? Note that we do not require objectives for an educational activity, and an outcome is not the same thing as an objective. The outcome is a measurable statement of what the learner will know, show, or be able to do when he/she reaches the end of the activity.
F. Description of evaluation method
For a Single Activity: How will you determine whether people gained knowledge or improved skills? Evaluation MUST occur at the level of need that was identified above. There is not a specific form or process that is required, but we look to see that the evaluation measures progress in addressing the problem that was identified in the first place. An evaluation method might include a post-test, verbal description of what was learned, a form where people answer specific questions about the content, a post-test, active participation in a case study, or a skill demonstration.
For a Conference: Same as above. The intent of the evaluation process is to determine the extent to which the problem has been “fixed”, or at least reduced. Be sure you are collecting data to validate that the conference (not each individual session) has achieved its purpose. Again, a form is not required – you can collect data I whatever way works best for you.
Description of the evaluation method(s) – evidence that change in knowledge, skills, or practice of the target audience will be assessed: How will you determine that the educational activity has been successful? How will you measure change in knowledge? In skill? In intent to change practice? Explain what process(es) you will use to collect this data. You are required to evaluate the activity at the level of need that was identified in item “C” – knowledge, skill gain, or intent to change practice. You are not required to have a specific “evaluation form” for learners to complete, and a “one size fits all” evaluation tool will not suffice for every activity. Think instead about the specific questions you want to ask or the evidence you need (post-test or skills demonstration, for example) to show that the practice gap has been closed for the learner. Please do be aware that, at the conclusion of your activity, you are required to submit a summary of the evaluation data to MNA.
G & H. Content and References
For a Single Activity: What will the session include, and what current, best-available evidence supports the content? Provide a one or two paragraph description of the content and include supporting references. References should have specific article, book, or web page titles and dates.
For a Conference: Provide an overview of the conference – not each individual session. For example, “there will be three plenary sessions focusing on effective communication strategies. Interspersed will be breakout sessions on topics of verbal and nonverbal communication, use of social media, public speaking and presentations, and publications.” It is not necessary to describe each session in detail. List the references that have been used to support this content. Detailed reference lists for each session are not required, but do provide specific article, book, or web site titles and dates for the references you submit.
Content of activity – a brief description of the content: What will the activity look like? What content will be included? For example: “the session will be a one-hour webinar on the 2017 CDC guidelines for administration of pediatric immunizations. It will include information about the administration schedule, physiological effects, side effects, and contraindications. Attention will be paid to the importance of incorporating this information in patient teaching for parents of pediatric patients”. If you are planning an event with multiple sessions or a conference, use this to describe the overall content for the sessions; do not provide content descriptions for each individual session.
Current references and resources: List the references or resources used in developing the course content. Typically, references should be dated within the past 5-7 years in order to reflect best available current evidence on the topic.
I. Learner engagement strategies
For a Single Activity: How will learners be actively engaged in the educational process? Lecture or PowerPoint by themselves do not actively engage learners. There must be some way learners actually participate. This can include question/answer sessions, reflection, small group work, and many other options.
For a Conference: Same as above. Because this is a conference, some strategies you would typically use with a smaller group will not work as well here. However, it is still required that there be opportunities for learner engagement. It helps to navigate this with speakers in the planning phase of an activity – they are not being asked to “give a talk” or “make a presentation” as much as to facilitate learning during their sessions.
Learner engagement strategies: How will learners be active (rather than passive) participants in the event? We know that learners are more likely to retain knowledge and transfer knowledge to practice if they are actively involved in the educational experience. To continue with the example above: “Learners will have the opportunity to engage in question/answer dialogue about the information, will take a 5-question quiz to assess their knowledge, and will participate in patient teaching role plays to assure that they are teaching current and correct information”. Please note that lecture and PowerPoint presentations by themselves are not examples of active learner engagement.
J. Criteria for successful completion
For a Single Activity: What is it that the learner has to do in order to get a contact hour certificate? This should be linked to the problem you’re trying to address. For example, if the problem is that nurses don’t know the pediatric immunization schedule, you might require that they pass a post-test about pediatric immunizations with 100% accuracy.
For a Conference: What is it that the learner has to do in order to get a contact hour certificate? For a conference, awarding credit commensurate with participation is common. That way, people get credit for the session(s) they attend. Do remember that you need maintain in your records the number of contact hours each person earns.
Criteria for successful completion in order to earn contact hours: This is an important step that must be undertaken as part of the planning process. This helps to avoid on-the-spot dilemmas like someone arriving 15 minutes late for a one-hour learning activity and asking if he/she can still get contact hours. Check the item that applies to your activity, or describe an “other” plan. Once determined, the criteria for successful completion must be shared with the learners prior to the beginning of the educational activity.
Advertising/Marketing IMPORTANT Information
PLEASE NOTE: It is not acceptable to refer to your activity with the terms “accredited” or “accreditation”, to reference ANCC other than in the prescribed statement, or to use the ANCC or MNA logos on any of your activity materials, including marketing.
- If advertising is released prior to submission of the application, you may not mention anything about seeking approval or awarding contact hours.
- If advertising is released after an application has been submitted but prior to approval, the following statement may be used:
This activity has been submitted to Montana Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. Montana Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as an approver of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
For more information regarding contact hours, please call (name of your organization as noted on page 1) for more information.
- If the advertising is to be released after approval is received, then use the statement prescribed in your approval letter.