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5 Reasons to Invest in Your Continuing Education

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Continuing education might be required in your state. However, have you ever considered the benefits of continuing education that far surpass merely maintaining your licensure? Discover five reasons you should invest in your continuing education.

5 Reasons to Invest in Your Continuing Education

Continuing education - these two words either excite you or send you into a state of boredom-induced slumber unmatched by pretty much anything else in life. Nurses are required to complete continuing education to maintain their licensure. However, experts tell us that there are more significant benefits to continuing education than just keeping our ability to practice the craft of nursing.

Here are a few reasons you should spend your time and money investing in your future.

Maintaining Licensure

Every state in the U.S. has a different set of expectations for nurse continuing education requirements. Some states mandate a certain number of continuing education. Others have specific courses or topics they require to address issues that happen in the state, such as child abuse, domestic violence, or laws governing your practice.

Providers of continuing education courses must meet specific rules to ensure that information is current and meets laws and nursing practice as it changes. This safeguards you from completing materials today that was outdated years ago. Be sure your up to date on what you need to know about nursing licensure.

Improving Safety

Your patients expect to be safe when in your care. No one wants to be responsible for adverse drug events, falls, or other unsafe patient situations. While it is impossible to eliminate errors altogether, it should still be your goal.

When nurses participate in continuing education that focuses on best-practices, patient-centered care, and safety prevention - errors lessen and patient satisfaction increases.

Fostering a culture of lifelong learning in nursing is one of the pivotal practices that keep patients safe. In fact, when the 1999 To Err is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System was published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), it showcased some scary numbers about patient safety:

  • Up to 98,000 patients die each year due to preventable medical errors
  • Medical errors cost up to $29 billion each year nationwide

You might think that the IOM would have been looking for high-tech ways to rectify these numbers. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the IOM joined forces to establish eight recommendations with goals for the next 20 years. Half of the strategies created to fix the issues found were based solidly in education. The four learning strategies included implementing nurse residency programs, increasing the percentage of nurses with a baccalaureate degree, doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate, and engaging nurses in lifelong learning.

I believe that this study illustrates the strength of continuing education in nursing. When nurses are empowered to increase their own understanding of the profession, patients are safer and more satisfied with their care.

Meeting Certification Requirements

Have you considered becoming certified in a nursing specialty? Accrediting bodies often have their own requirements you must meet to maintain your certification. You might need to complete courses on specific topics or areas to achieve the necessary requirements.

For example, if you’re like me and have a certification in Case Management, you’ll need to show that you’ve completed 80 hours of approved continuing education specific to being a case manager. Many courses will meet the requirements you need for your certification while also keeping you compliant with your state board of nursing.

Gaining New Skills and Meeting Changes

Healthcare is becoming more innovative every day. From new drugs and treatments to the use of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, there’s so much to learn. Instead of waiting for hands-on training opportunities to come to you on the job, consider enrolling in a CE course that provides an overview of skills you know you’re going to need.

It’s essential to remember that not all new skills are technical. While learning how to use equipment or how to assess for specific diseases is necessary, sometimes the skills you need most are interpersonal. If you’re struggling at work with communication, time management, or you’re considering moving up the career ladder, there are courses to help you gain the knowledge you need.

Advancing Your Career

Whether you’re considering certification, returning to school, or just want to stay up on the latest research - all of this learning will help to advance your career. Continuing education is an excellent place to start if you’re considering changing your specialty. You can choose a few courses to take to learn the basics of just about any nursing niche out there so that you can find out if it might be right for you.

Continuing education might be mandated. However, if you can flip the script on how you approach continuing education requirements you might find that there are many reasons to invest in your professional development.

How you do feel about mandated continuing education? Do you enjoy it or do you just complete it because it’s required to maintain your certification?

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Melissa is a Quality Assurance Nurse, professor, writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. You can see more of her work at www.melissamills.net.

83 Likes, 6 Followers, 87 Articles, 18,927 Visitors, and 233 Posts.

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Thank you for this very good article which clearly explains how/why continuing educations courses can be used to improve one's practice, benefitting both patients and nurses.  

My state requires a significant number of continuing education contact hours for license renewal compared to a number of states, some of which have no continuing education requirements at all.  I believe continuing education should be mandatory in all states for license renewal, and I am surprised that the state BONs' do not unanimously require this.

Even though my state requires a higher number of C.E. contact hours than many other states, I believe that this amount is still the minimum amount necessary, and that it is necessary to take significantly more than this, which I do.

I have heard some nurses say that continuing education courses don't really improve nurses' practice overall as one can choose easy courses and the quality of the courses is variable.  Naturally, if one takes the easiest route to taking continuing education courses one is unlikely to improve one's practice very much.  In my experience, one gets out of taking continuing education courses exactly what one puts into it.  If one takes good quality courses that challenge one and teach one new information, one is far more likely to improve one's practice than if one just takes continuing education courses that are easy for one.

Edited by Susie2310

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17 hours ago, Susie2310 said:

Thank you for this very good article which clearly explains how/why continuing educations courses can be used to improve one's practice, benefitting both patients and nurses.  

My state requires a significant number of continuing education contact hours for license renewal compared to a number of states, some of which have no continuing education requirements at all.  I believe continuing education should be mandatory in all states for license renewal, and I am surprised that the state BONs' do not unanimously require this.

Even though my state requires a higher number of C.E. contact hours than many other states, I believe that this amount is still the minimum amount necessary, and that it is necessary to take significantly more than this, which I do.

I have heard some nurses say that continuing education courses don't really improve nurses' practice overall as one can choose easy courses and the quality of the courses is variable.  Naturally, if one takes the easiest route to taking continuing education courses one is unlikely to improve one's practice very much.  In my experience, one gets out of taking continuing education courses exactly what one puts into it.  If one takes good quality courses that challenge one and teach one new information, one is far more likely to improve one's practice than if one just takes continuing education courses that are easy for one.

Susie2310 - You much some excellent points. If nurses take the path of least resistance and complete basic courses to get the CEs, then they certainly won't get much out of the process of completing CE's. As nurses, we must embrace the idea that we are and will always be life-long learners. 

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ~Melissa

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Cont ed is so very important. Medicine and nursing change so quickly - what was once standard practice only 2-3 years ago is now obsolete. 

As a provider with two certs, I have to have 150 hours of CME to re-certify and they must all be related to my practice. This is important to keep my practice current. 

Great article - thanks. 

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4 hours ago, traumaRUs said:

Cont ed is so very important. Medicine and nursing change so quickly - what was once standard practice only 2-3 years ago is now obsolete. 

As a provider with two certs, I have to have 150 hours of CME to re-certify and they must all be related to my practice. This is important to keep my practice current. 

Great article - thanks. 

I agree with this completely; changes in medicine and nursing happen frequently and it is important for nurses to keep up with changes in medicine and nursing that affect their practice. One example that comes to mind is revisions to ACLS guidelines and treatment of patients with ACS.

Edited by Susie2310

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On 2/4/2019 at 6:16 AM, Melissa Mills said:
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Continuing education is an excellent place to start if you’re considering changing your specialty. 

 

How you do feel about mandated continuing education? Do you enjoy it or do you just complete it because it’s required to maintain your certification?

Continuing education allowed me to acquire a specialty certification while simultaneously meeting the requirements of maintaining my state licensure. I've always loved the idea of lifelong learning. 

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