There are many different continuing education opportunities available for nurses. Here are a few that we feel are the most valuable.
As nurses, our education doesn’t stop the minute we walk across the stage at graduation. Au contraire—that’s just the beginning! Most states require that we continue our education every two to three years through what are known as continuing education credits in order to maintain licensure.
That means that even after you’ve obtained your nursing license, you’ll probably still have to take occasional courses or engage in professional nursing activities to earn credits and ensure that your license is active. Obtaining CE (continuing education) and CME (continuing medical education) credits will be absolutely vital. Even if your state doesn’t require continuing ed, you might still want to grow your skillset and make yourself extra-marketable with new learning opportunities.
Why Continuing Education Is Important:
Obtaining continuing education credits for nurses isn’t just a requisite for staying licensed in most states. It’s also necessary for passionate nurses who want to stay on top of their game. The fact of the matter is that the healthcare industry is ever-changing, and building upon your educational foundation helps you stay up to date on the latest technologies, trends, and studies so that you can provide the best possible patient care.
Nurses who do not continue their medical education beyond traditional nursing school risk being left in the dust and may become stagnant in their career and limited in terms of salary. Of course, nurses who advance from LPN to RN and RN to NP (or another higher nursing license) significantly raise their earning potential with each new milestone. Many nurses will also need to obtain additional certifications, such as ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support), and BLS (Basic Life Support). But even still, there is so much more nurses can learn.
Whether you’re looking for unique continuing education (CME) opportunities to make your resumé sparkle or simply need a few ideas for your required credits, the following opportunities should be prime considerations. If you need credits for licensure, be sure to look for continuing education that is approved by your area’s American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
1. Obtain Your Master’s Degree – If you really want to take your career to the next level, consider working toward a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. For registered nurses, this is the next level in education required to nab some of the higher-paying nursing titles, like nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or nursing consultant. Obtaining your MSN may open the doors for many new opportunities and may even allow you to practice independent primary care, depending on where you live. Nurse practitioners, for example, can practice independently in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Many major nursing organizations have begun to push independent practice in order to prepare for the looming physician shortage.
2. Go to a Conference – Continuing medical education (CME) conferences can be a whole lot of fun for veteran nurses who are sick of the same old CE courses, especially if they go in a group with friends or colleagues. If you work for a major hospital or health care system, there’s a good chance that your employer will happily cover the costs of attending an annual nursing conference for you. Some of the bigger nursing conferences include the Global Nursing Education Conference, the Advanced Nursing Conference, and the Family Nursing Conference. Check on each event’s agenda to find ways to earn credits or attend simply because you care about the future of the profession.
3. Sign Up for an Online Class – Courses are the most common way most nurses obtain their credits, in large part because they are interesting and convenient. While nurses in decades past had to go to brick-and-mortar credentialing centers to take continuing education courses, you can now take all sorts of accredited classes online. One of the best parts about this kind of continuing ed is that you can tailor it to what interests you and what would best bolster your career. Take courses relevant to the changing medical landscape and learn all about hot topics like medicinal marijuana, web-based patient care, and stem cell research, for example. Furthermore, obtaining ACLS, PALS, and BLS certification is not only easy--you’ll also be able to earn 4 to 8 CME credits once the online course is successfully completed.
4. Volunteer in the Community – While you may not receive credit units for licensure from volunteering, it is one of the best ways to continue your nursing education while you’re off the clock. Good nurses know when and where they’re needed the most and will enthusiastically spring into action in the event of a tragedy or a natural disaster. Volunteer nurses are also vital to the health and well-being of those in developing countries. Chances are, there’s a need for volunteer nurses in your community. You might consider volunteering your services at a local school, a veteran’s organization, or a women’s shelter.
5. Travel for the Greater Good – Nurses are needed around the world, especially in areas that have basic and limited health care. In fact, more than 1.3 million people around the globe lack access to basic health care, so there is plenty of need for trained medical professionals, especially nurses. Consider going on a medical mission to help bring quality care to underdeveloped areas. Not only will you be able to enrich yourself by seeing new parts of the world, but you will also be able to deliver much-needed care to those who need it most. You can volunteer as a travel nurse with various organizations, including Medical Missions, Doctors Without Borders, and the Red Cross. Because let’s be honest, not all heroes wear capes, some wear scrubs!
6. Take a Class at a University – Who doesn’t want to go back to college for a day or two? Many nursing and medical schools offer continuing education opportunities for healthcare professionals to stay up to date on their training. These programs are often open to nurses at any level of their career and don’t require a specific degree or enrollment in a degree-tract program. For example, the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing offers some continuing education classes free of charge to help nurses maintain and enhance their knowledge without high tuition costs. Though not all university courses offer CE or CME credits, these high-quality courses can be extremely beneficial.
Becoming a Better Nurse
Nurses are lifelong learners, which is one of the reasons why continuing education for nurses is so important. There’s no denying that seeking new continuing education opportunities help better us as healthcare providers and as people. Luckily, with a projected job growth of 16 percent in the next six years, our jobs as nurses are relatively secure, but we must do all that we can to increase our knowledge and help better the profession for the future.
eMedCert is a simplistic online ACLS, PALS, and BLS certification/recertification platform that makes it easy to get continuing education. Visit our website or contact us today to start advancing your knowledge.
This guest post was created by Adela Ellis. At eMedCert, we strongly encourage all forms of guest posting. If you are interested in publishing your work on the eMedCert blog, please contact our editorial team at [email protected]