Some say why continuing education? I have been doing this job for years and never needed it before; it’s a waste of my time. Is it? I am a big believer that I learn something new every day whether I try to or not. The medical field is ever changing and as nurses we should naturally want to keep up. To put it in perspective let’s look at other professions where as consumers we value keeping up with the times. What if a mechanic relied only on their professional education received 20 years ago? How would your brand new 2011 hybrid fare against the skills learned to work on a 1990 Chevrolet? How about computer repair and the advances made their in the last 20 years? A tech with no advancement would be baffled at the usb drive and still looking for the floppy drive. Those are just things that we can technically live without yet we expect top quality service with current information and technology to get us back on the highway be it the interstate or the information highway. We should be eager and willing to want to keep up with the times and learn about new treatments, assessment techniques, and disease pathophysiology to best treat our patients. www.nursingworld.com
discusses the topic of continuing education and lists the following:
The Code for Nurses (ANA, 1985) outlined nurses' ethical responsibilities. Several of the statements directly relate to all nurses' responsibility to maintain professional knowledge and competence in their practice:
Plank 4 - The nurse assumes responsibility and accountability for individual nursing judgments and actions.
Plank 5 - The nurse maintains competence in nursing.
Plank 6 - The nurse exercises informed judgment and individual competence and qualifications as criteria.
Plank 7 - The nurse participates in activities that contribute to ongoing development of the profession's body of knowledge. (p. 1)
To be a good competent nurse we must strive to continually educate ourselves. It matters not whether it is formal education or reading on our own via professional magazines, book or the internet as long as we continue to grow in our knowledge and understanding as medicine advances. If we examine our personal practices I am sure most of us probably far exceed the continuing education requirements and it’s a matter of paying attention and logging. 15 hours a year is a little more than an hour a month. I and most other nurses I know spend at least an hour a week researching a new medication, treatment, or symptom relating to a patient.
If you like I prefer to gain formal hours of education in addition to fulfilling the day to day needs of patients there are many ways to go about it. On the large scale there is the possibility of pursuing a higher degree or certification in a specialty. Price and time might be an issue for many making it an unfeasible option. Several hospitals in your area might offer workshops after which a continuing education certificate will be issued. These may range from a one to two hour session or an all day seven or eight hour session getting you half way to your annual goal in one day. There are also many options from home to completing certified education units. Professional nursing magazines provide articles to be read with a quiz to follow to be mailed in with a fee following which a certificate of hours will be issued. At $20 - $30 or more an hour this can get pricey quickly. There are webinars available anywhere to free or for a cost where you watch an online presentation for CEU’s. Being a member to online nursing communities such as the ANA will sometimes present free webinar options. My personal choice of CEU’s is reading articles of interest online and submitting a quick quiz then immediatiely receiving a certificate of completion of CEU’s. There are websites such as http://www.nursingcenter.com/prodev/ce_online.asp
where for $34.95 a year you can complete up to 100 hours of your choice of CEU’s. Personally I prefer to go the free route. A Google search of free continuing education for nurses leads to a variety of choices. I regularly use nurse.com. Under the education tab click on self-study CE courses and you will see a long list of options on the left hand side. Click on View Free CE Courses and you will see several hundred possibilities divided by specialty or area of interest. The positive to this site besides being free is that upon completion you can instantly print your certificate and the website keeps track of your units completed in case you misplace your documents. If you are a motivated self learner with basic computer skills this for many is the best option. Free, no time constraints, and able to be tailored to personal needs and interests.
In the next few weeks I will be personally completing 15 hours from nurse.com to demonstrate the ease of the site, quality of information presented, and how I feel it applies to my nursing practice. If I have this requirement anyway why not make sure I use it to truly make me a better more informed nurse. Again feel free to follow along, comment, or ask questions as I continue along in this journey.