The healthcare field is constantly changing and progressing, with new theories on diseases, technological advances, patient care trends, new and revised protocols, medical breakthroughs and research findings. Added to that are the vast amounts of information affecting how nurses practice and provide patient care.
Nursing instruction is a rigorous and precise educational process, providing a broad foundation of medical, nursing and scientific knowledge. Still, nursing practice requires a commitment to continuing education and the ongoing pursuit of the most up-to-date and accurate information available. Understanding this new information should boost nurse competence, knowledge and skills, which in turn likely will lead to better patient care and positive patient outcomes.
Ongoing Changes in Healthcare
Nursing school programs seek to provide students with the most current facts and data available in the nursing field. However, the information may quickly become outdated in the healthcare setting, as new and improved procedures, treatments, medications and technology are introduced.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations may provide training regarding new equipment, clinical techniques and protocols but it is the responsibility of nurses to obtain the knowledge needed to update their skills.
Typically, nurses are required to successfully complete a minimum number of CE hours within a specified time-frame in order to maintain and renew state licensure. Some U.S. states specify mandatory course topics to be completed; others allow nurses to choose topics of interest.
A wide variety of CE courses are offered in a range of formats. Some professional nursing journals offer articles for CE credit, including some which are free and others that require a fee. In addition to the option of completing CE credits, subscribing to these journals can be a good way for nurses to stay aware of changes in their specialty or in general nursing practice.
Nurses also may choose to attend professional development programs or seminars either within their healthcare organization or in private settings. Some institutions may pay for registration or reimburse nurses who complete these seminars for CE credits. Organizations might give nurses time off to attend programs and seminars, although others may require nurses to attend on their own time.
Collaboration with colleagues is another way in which nurses can continue their learning. Nurses also may be able to take advantage of specialized training and education programs offered by their own organization.
Online CE courses have become a more popular method of continuing education for nurses, in some cases offering greater affordability and flexibility. Among the potential benefits: access to a broad variety of nursing topics; up-to-date courses; and courses that can completed at a convenient time and place and without geographical barriers.
Nurses interested in taking CE courses online should be sure to choose a state-approved education provider.
Maintaining Excellence through Continuing Education
It is the responsibility of professional nurses to complete continuing education in order to maintain a level of competence and improve patient care and outcomes.
In an ever-changing healthcare environment, a nurse’s job is constantly evolving. Making a commitment to provide quality patient care means being willing to continue learning every day.