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Why Continuing Education is Important for Nurses

By Emily O'Brien On Dec 17, 2021

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Employers encourage nurses to participate in continuing education (CE) courses regularly. Their continuous pursuit of knowledge ensures patients get the best possible care, and ongoing learning can also fulfill personal ambitions of prolonged growth. Although some states require RNs to engage in some type of continuing education regularly—annually, biennially, or every three years—it’s not mandated nationwide.

By taking advantage of specialized, evidence-based CE opportunities, nurses can stay current on the latest technologies and treatments. CE offers are created to bolster, advance, and support healthcare professionals’ comprehension, expertise, and clinical skills. Whether nurses are looking to enhance their skills to grow their career or prepare for a certification, CE courses enrich potential and to help ensure the best patient outcomes.

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Classes are designed to help nurses:

  • Stay up-to-speed with the latest developments and new technologies
  • Provide the finest care, improving patient outcomes
  • Advance careers
  • Diversify skillsets

Keeping up and staying sharp

Catherine Kleiner, PhD, RN, is the director of Nursing Research, Innovation and Professional Practice at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She says, "Nurses need to continue their education to stay current, as healthcare is ever-changing. New scientific discoveries happen every day, and understanding how these impact disease processes and care for patients is critical to provide the best care. This education can occur in the classroom, but it can also occur in other venues, including webinars and publications."

CE often includes a variety of offerings, such as unit-based programs, conferences (in-person or virtual), and self-study courses.

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Aydrian DeDiemar, EdD, RN, director of Nursing Professional Development at Children’s Hospital Colorado, says, "There is always new evidence emerging from research. It is imperative that nurses continue to learn how to best care for patients through continuing education. A classroom setting for learning is only one mode of educational delivery—nurses should and can engage in learning that meets their unique learning styles and needs."

Educational topics encompass these areas and more:

  • Workplace environments
  • Organizational excellence
  • Leadership development
  • Certification review
  • Clinic expertise

Accessible courses

Sometimes it’s hard to find the mental bandwidth to attend conferences and workshops in person. Staying current on best practices and the latest technology is easier than ever these days, thanks to the growth in online learning platforms over the past several years. Many programs let you watch the entire class at once, or access sections at a time to work at your own pace.

Kleiner says, "There are many topics that are relevant, including updates in treatment for specific medical diagnoses, changes in recommendations for treatment, new ways of providing care such as telehealth, and many more. Research is always being conducted on diagnosis, treatments, and care delivery. Nurses need to remain current in their area of expertise to be able to provide the best care."

CE combats burnout

Nurses give it their all, day in and day out, which is why it’s understandably a profession where people can wind up feeling drained or burnt out. CE is a constructive way to re-spark passion for the nursing field. With diverse continuing education unit (CEU) offerings, nurses can choose topics that excite them and reinvigorate their love of the medical industry.

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"Nurses who receive advanced degrees and certifications become experts in their areas of study, Kleiner says. "Nurses have a variety of opportunities for continuing their formal education, allowing them to become experts in that area of nursing. Specialization in nursing could address a specific population such as pediatrics, a specific diagnosis such as diabetes, or a type of role such as a leader or researcher. Experts in nursing lead changes and advance the profession to ensure expert care is delivered by all nurses."

Financial benefits

A more informed workplace cultivates a safer and healthier environment. While CEUs are not required in all states or by all employers, having them is always worthwhile, especially when looking to advance in the field. Obtaining CEUs shows interest and determination, and can increase one’s salary or entice another prospective employer. Managers who support nurses’ continuing education via funding or offering additional resources frequently see loyalty increases in employees.

Apply for your next nursing job today!

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