If you are a nurse, you know that continuing education is a key component of keeping your license active. Although states differ in terms of the number of continuing education courses a nurse must complete each year, most mandate continuing your education activities of some kind if a nurse intends to be re-licensed. But why is it important for nurses to participate in continuing their education activities?
First, participating in nurse continuing education gives nurses the opportunity to keep abreast of industry developments. Health care is a rapidly changing field, and staying ahead of the curve can be a challenge. By regularly participating in nurse continuing education activities such as hospital in-services, college courses, online courses or other activities approved by their states’ licensing boards, nurses can ensure that they are informed about and trained in the latest technologies and that they are up to speed on industry best practices. This can be particularly important in areas such as immunology and infectious disease, where advancements are sometimes especially rapid and driven by current events. Nurses are always the first line of defense in the face of a widespread public health threat-adequate training for nurses in up-to-date treatment methods and infection avoidance are absolutely essential in treating a disease and preventing its spread. Other examples of the types of courses generally offered by hospitals include terrorism awareness, domestic violence, wound care and even foreign languages.
Second, pursuing nurse continuing education can allow a nurse to expand into new areas of nursing, offering him or her a wider range of career options and potentially better pay. In today’s health care environment, there is an increasing demand for nurses with a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) or higher. College courses that are part of an advanced nursing degree program will generally help to fulfill a nurse’s state-mandated continuing education requirement, and will get her one step closer to being able to capitalize on this ever-growing demand. Online degree programs are making it easier than ever for working nurses to pursue advanced degrees at their own pace, increasing their earning potential and advancing their skills as they continue to practice.
Most importantly, participating in nurse continuing education helps nurses to better perform their most important role-caring for their patients. Like doctors, nurses make important decisions about patient care every day. Without access to the most thorough, most up-to-date information on the options available to care for their injured or ill patients, nurses may miss key opportunities to intervene. As a trusted caretaker, a nurse is charged with understanding a patient’s condition and knowing how best to respond to his needs. By participating in continuing education activities, a nurse demonstrates her commitment to continual growth within her chosen profession and her dedication to providing her patients with the best possible care.