Continuing Education in Washington reviewed - page 4

by klwtiger 6,462 Views | 36 Comments

“I can’t afford to go back to school”, “I have been a nurse for over 20 years, why do I need more education?” How am I going to get 45 hours done?” These are all things that I have heard from fellow nurses upon learning about... Read More


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    In thinking of what I would do next to complete continuing education requirements I wanted to try something different than just read and answer so I did a Google search for interactive continuing education for nurses. I was directed to RN.com that had a handful of courses available for free as well as some that can be purchased. Another option they offer is a subscription for unlimited CEU’s for a year for approximately $35. Again I do not find it necessary to pay for continuing education with so many free options available. I also immediately noticed on this site that among even the free choices, there are a few options for more than 1 hour which is nice if you have the time to get more than an hour in at a time and it is on one subject matter.

    I first chose a unit on Critical thinking for 2 contact hours. This unit was interactive slide show based meaning rather than just scrolling through and reading the slides were colorful with bulleted information that was clear and easy to understand. There were case studies that were simple yet really demonstrated the point being made. The course examined three major uses of critical thinking, how to use critical thinking to approach a patient problem, collaborate with other disciplines, and teaching new nurses to develop their critical thinking skills when precepting. The most useful thing I gained from this course was the reminder that critical thinking is an ever present process that when used properly streamlines and improves patient care. As I prepare to enter a patients room to do an assessment or address a problem I quickly think of what I already know about the patient and the disease process. This will help me streamline their assessment focusing on the areas most important to them then branch out as the findings lead. If I am assessing someone with a respiratory then to start with blood pressure , Finger stick, or skin check might delay an important finding or lead me in the wrong direction. I would first do a thorough respiratory and infection directed assessment and branch out from there. If I find the patient to have low O2 sats or a high fever I can find those values and address them sooner than if I were to start with BP or start ant the head and work to the foot which can delay the simple interventions such as administering O2 or Tylenol then proceeding with the assessment. Another valuable piece to the puzzle that often gets over looked is reflection. Especially in a n emergent situation it is important to mentally debrief and think over what went well and what did not. The next time a similar situation occurs I can than remember what worked well and avoid what did not and will have broadened my knowledge base to know what to look for if a similar patient needs my attention.

    Aside from being more interactive this made the unit more engaging and held my attention, the assessment tool was longer and more specific. It was 15 questions with a 75% required for passing. Which is usual but I found myself taking my time to really think about the answers which assisted in really reviewing the unit. I was able to pass on the first try though if I did not I had the option to review my wrong answers (though the right answer was not reviewed) then re take the exam for credit. A certificate was then made available which I could email and/or print out and add to my file. The unit took me approximately 90 minutes to complete, 15 minutes to take the test for a total of 105 minutes for which I received 2 contact hours. I will definitely be using this web site as a future option.
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    To bring my total up to 13 hours, I completed a 3 hour course on Heart Failure also from RN.com. This course was also interactive and had the addition of mini quizzes along the way which did not count in grading though did assist in solidifying the information presented. Although this course was worth 3 hours credit the entire process took me about an hour and a half. I can see this taking significantly shorter or significantly longer depending on how quickly the learner reads and grasps the information as well as level of prior knowledge of the subject matter. Heart failure in general is of course not new information for me although the way this was presented was so clear and concise some confusions I had were cleared up and I overall feel I have a better grasp on the subject. The unit covered symptomology, diagnostics, treatment including surgery, medications and life style changes and medications. The post test was again longer though more straightforward yet in depth to other units I have completed and I was able to pass on the first attempt as well as review the answers I had gotten wrong for additional clarification. This unit was presented by the same source as the critical thinking course and I definitely plan on continuing to seek learning opportunities from them in the future because of the thoroughness and clarity of the information they present. It was put together by the masters of nursing education program through Georgetown University.
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    One of the things I discussed early on in this process was the value of a certified continuing education unit versus participation in an independent reading activity or work in-service which does not have to meet any standards but rather somehow advance your knowledge in nursing. I began thinking about the validity of this and wondering if it was plausible that a person could complete an independent activity and gain more than someone with a fancy certificate showing completion of a certified unit. I then looked at the next unit I was planning to complete which was Infection Control for 3 hours. I thought in all my nursing education and in-services at work and basic knowledge, I wonder if I could complete this course without completing the required reading? I then took the test without even opening the unit and passed easily with an 84%. This was quite an eye opener in that I realized a person could easily look for CEU’s online that they have a good base of knowledge in and if it allows the user to go straight to the test they could easily complete their required hours with fancy certificates to show for it without ever having learned anything. On the contrary if a person spends time researching something regarding them or a patient, attends in-services, or sits down to read a nursing magazine article they will have in actuality gained more knowledge than the person with the fancy certificates. As is in most situations in life it comes down to integrity. The purpose of the requirement is to ensure nurses are continuing to further their medical knowledge for the good of the patient but like most other things there are loop holes and ways around the system.
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    Officially I have now completed 15 certified continuing education units and now have the fancy certificates to show for it. Although I did not really need the units since I am currently in school, I did gain a lot of knowledge through this process and not just about the topics I studied to get the units. I learned I did better with the more interactive units, second on the webinars and lastly on those based on reading just a plain long article. I was able to focus better, grasp the information as well as retain it and did better on the first try of the post test. There is a vast array of ways to complete the requirement be it independent or attending an official workshop or in service. In all the most insight I gained was that like in most things in life, what effort you put into something will equate what you get out of it. Some topics I was able to really able to take to heart and some were more time passers that may or may not apply. Overall if the requirement is a good thing or not, is yet to be seen. There are ways around it as demonstrated in the last 3 hours of credit I obtained, not much might be gained by it if it is information that may not apply, and if you are anything like me or many nurses I know our knowledge of nursing is ever expanding and in no way can be measured or tallied by a log sheet or certificate. How many times in a week do we look up a new medication or disease process or research alternative treatments for a patient not responding well to conventional ways? If I kept track of each of these instances that actually added to my knowledge I would need a pretty big notebook. Hopefully if nothing else those that have followed me along on this journey will learn there are several ways to complete the requirement that are free and will add to the knowledge base of the learner.
    I want to thank you all for following along and engaging. So far this thread has almost 500 visits, which is exciting. If I helped demystify the process for even one fellow nurse then I have succeeded in what I set out to do. Although in an official capacity my work here is done, I plan on continuing to follow this thread and interact. I am still looking into the possibility of using care of a loved one as fulfilling the hours required for nursing practice, I have not found the right person yet though I assure an answer will come hopefully sooner than later.
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    Quote from tntrn
    "In a three year period it is required to have completed 531 hours of active nursing practice. This can be in a professional paid or volunteer capacity. The requirement only states that it must be performing duties required of licensed personnel."

    This part bothers me, a lot. If a nurse decides to take time away from nursing to start a family, or if a nurse must take an extended medical leave (let's say for cancer treatment) I feel this requirement creates a hardship. If one cannot work, one probably can't volunteer either.
    As someone who has had to take lengthy breaks from nursing for health reasons I diagree. It really is a low number of hours that can be spread over 3 years or done all at once. As heartless as it sounds do we really want people returning to work after a lengthy absence without having refreshed or maintained their skills at all?

    The roll out of this does include some exceptions for newly graduated nurses. Even if one were unable to obtain employment immediately following graduation they have 3 years in which to complete required hours.
    Last edit by kids on Dec 10, '11
    klwtiger likes this.
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    I do want to say thank you to klwtiger for starting this thread and posting so much information about Washington's new requirements, it is a new requirement and the information can be overwhelming for people who are new to it.

    I hold licenses in multiple states, each with their own practice and CEU requirements.
    I keep a notebook tabbed by quarterly and file paystubs/payroll print outs, certificates and personal exercises there. It's just another part of the monthly book keeping for my household. When WA announced the changes I simply added them to the mix.

    The vast majority of us, in any given state, will never be asked to produce our documentation. By staying on top of it from the outset you'll never (if chosen for audit) be in the position of trying to scramble for your supporting documentation.
    klwtiger likes this.
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    I have the answer regarding receiving nursing hours credit for caring for a loved one. If the care given requires having an RN license then it can be used as credit towards required practice hours. If it is general caregiving then it can not be used and if the proper number of hours is not obtained, a nursing refresher course would be required.

    Personally if I took 3 years off completely removed from nursing I would not feel safe giving care. I would probably be a nervous wreck and scared of making a major mistake or not being able to keep up with the changes and advances that had occurred in my absence. A refresher course might be just the jump start I would need to get my confidence going and the cobwebs brushed off my skill set.


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