Continuing Nursing Education – Worth Our Time and Energy

March 15, 2018

By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart Learning Contributor


Nurses are constantly learning.  It is part of the daily routine.   New equipment arrives, an unfamiliar diagnosis is written, regulations and policies change, or an ethical or cultural dilemma interrupts the day. Keeping up with current nursing practice can be challenging, but it is the nurse’s responsibility to do so.

One of the many ways nurses learn is through continuing nursing education.  As licensed nurses, continuing education requirements are part of licensure renewal for nearly everyone.  But, the benefits go beyond just the licensure requirements.  Continuing nursing education is integral to a nurse’s professional development.  It builds on the basic education that was required for licensure, and also on past and present professional work experience.  As knowledge and competence in nursing practice increase with continuing nursing education, so does the ability to critically think and manage normal events or unusual situations that arise.   Ultimately, the end result is an overall improvement in the quality of nursing practice.  And, the major beneficiaries of that improvement are the patients, residents, clients, families or others cared for by nurses.

If your employer doesn’t provide continuing nursing education (CNE) opportunities at work, it can be a challenge to complete the required hours, particularly if the deadline for license renewal is looming.  The challenge is twofold:   finding approved courses, and getting them completed on time.

There are a variety of sources outside of the workplace to obtain continuing education credit, such as live classes or online independent self-study courses offered by professional associations or approved continuing education providers.  Online courses may be appealing for those with busy schedules, as the learner decides the date and time they want to take the course.  Most online courses also allow the flexibility of pausing the course and returning to the same place later to finish.

When choosing a continuing nursing education provider, consider the availability of courses that meet state requirements, if any, for topics that must be covered during each renewal period.  Florida, for example, has very specific course requirements as part of the required CNE.  It is also important to check that courses have been approved for CNE, usually by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC).   State boards of nursing may also grant CEU approval for individual courses taken toward license requirements in that state.

Many nurses have had the experience of a looming deadline for license renewal, and knowing that additional education hours are still needed.   Unfortunately, procrastination can set in if continuing education requirements are seen as just another unpleasant chore, rather than an opportunity for personal and professional development.   Continuing education is worth our time and energy.

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March 20, 2018

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