DiversityNursing Blog

The Importance of Continuing Education

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Aug 17, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

nurse_iStock_000018260521.jpgNursing is one of the many professions that is changing rapidly. Lifelong learning for Nurses is essential. As a Nursing professional, it is a requirement of maintaining your license to participate in continuing education (CE). You need to stay up-to-date on patient care, healthcare trends, treatments and techniques.

According to Nurse.org, most states require Nurses to complete some form of continuing education every two to three years as a condition of licensure. Even if your state board does not require any education for continuing competence for renewal, you may still be required by your employer or Nursing association for job-specific certifications (i.e., Nursing specialties, magnet hospitals, etc.). Specialty certifications such as medical-surgical, critical care, neonatal, etc. have specific requirements for continuing education. Make sure to check with your own hospital and any associations to which you may belong to find out if you have further requirements above and beyond that of your state Nursing board.

Nursing Professional Development specialists or NPD specialists are available to advise Nurses about certification and licensing requirements, and they can also address a Nurse’s need for additional instruction. Furthermore, NPD specialists ensure that the Nurses under their supervision always demonstrate competency.

Trisha Coady, HealthStreams Vice President of Clinical Development, discusses how lifelong learning benefits patients and outcomes. She said, "Nearly 70% of the healthcare workforce is involved in direct patient care. That’s 3.1 million of HealthStream’s 4.5 million subscribers, who complete over one million courses each week. If each of those healthcare professionals could prevent harm or death for only five people in their lifetime as a result of acquired knowledge, over 15 million lives would be saved."

Coady also advises healthcare managers to incorporate and promote a strong focus on learning. Trisha said, "Decisions made after 20 years of experience differ drastically from what we would make in our first year after college. To get there, we’ve likely pursued formal education or courseware, attended conferences, volunteered on committees, leveraged peers and mentors, etc. There will always be a need for mandatory, regulatory or focused training, but I also believe it’s just as critical to offer opportunities for self-development."

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Topics: continuing education

Here's What I Learned By Going Back To School

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, Mar 16, 2017 @ 02:29 PM

5882146398_7014d39636_o.jpg.736x0_q85.jpgHave you noticed some people were born knowing what they wanted to do for a career? Not me, I didn’t have a clue. One friend in particular, never wavered. He knew from the time he was a young boy, he wanted to be a doctor. He achieved his goal and he’s an excellent one too!
 
Some people change their career path and have to go back to school. Others go back to school to advance in their current career. Whatever the reason may be, going back to school can be overwhelming and a big deal for many reasons
 
Jennifer Mensik, PHD, RN, FAAN gives us a personal look at her educational journey and shares with us a few things she learned along the way.
 
Have you gone back to Nursing school? Maybe started out in a completely different career and switched to Nursing? What’s your experience?
 
Diversity Education Award

Everyone has a reason for going to nursing school and often different reasons for continuing education beyond that. I am one of the few RNs I know at my age who decided to become a nurse when I was in high school. Living in Washington state at the time, I participated in the Running Start program, which allowed me to take college prerequisite courses at the local community college. The tuition was covered by the high school; I just paid for books. I completed my nursing school prerequisites and applied to the associate’s degree in nursing program my senior year of high school.

As a sophomore in high school, I wanted to be a nurse practitioner. I knew once I was done with my ADN, I would transfer to Washington State University for my BSN. I had even chosen my NP program. I am quite the type A personality and had my life planned in 10th grade! Interestingly, my high school counselor always questioned my decision to go into nursing. And  while progressing through nursing school, I actually did change my mind. Because I have a type A personality, changing my planned path was difficult. It was one that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, but I am thankful for today. I often reflect and tell others about what I learned along my 12-year journey. Here are the most important pieces of my self-reflection.

Pay attention to what piques your interest

As I started my RN to BSN program, I was still bound and determined to be a nurse practitioner. However, I really didn’t like pathophysiology nor pharmacology. I slugged through the material because I needed to learn it. But then came a leadership course. And as I was reading articles, I fell in love with the content. What I noticed was that many authors, all RNs, had MBAs. This made me pause. This was something I had not considered, primarily because I had never been exposed to it. As I finished my BSN, I decided I was going to get my MBA and not be a nurse practitioner.

Many of us get preconceived ideas of what we want to do based on what we know at the time. And many of us continue down a path because we do not pause to really determine if that is what we should still do. As you think about your next steps and what you want to do, pause and think. What piques your interest? Life is too short to not do what you love.

"Many of us get preconceived ideas of what we want to do based on what we know at the time. And many of us continue down a path because we do not pause to really determine if that is what we should still do.”

You get back what you put into it

During my MBA program, I couldn’t afford the time commitment to be on campus at times, so I chose an online education. At the time, many people were weary of online programs, thinking they lacked rigor and quality. This is where you need to make your own decisions. Regardless of the program type, I have seen students do the minimum work and try to sail through courses, checking off boxes, just to get the degree. As a faculty member, it is so disheartening to see. Why are you selling yourself short? It saddens me every time I overhear nurses say they didn’t learn anything when they went back to school. I am very leery of those individuals.

During my online program, I read everything and worked hard on my papers. I knew this would prepare me to be better at whatever I did. Today, I can tell the difference when I speak with someone who put in great effort to learn compared with the one who did not. It’s difficult to fake knowledge. You either know something or you don’t. So do not just treat this as a hoop to jump or check marks on a to do list. Your time is worth more than that, so spend it learning well. The time and money you are spending on education should make you better — a better nurse, a better person and an example for others. Maybe even an example to your children.

The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know

Once I graduated with a doctoral degree, I proudly used my new initials after my name. What was interesting is that overnight, many people saw me as an expert. The perception was I had a doctoral degree, so I must know what you I’m talking about. In many ways through my dissertation I had become an expert in a particular area. But cue imposter syndrome! I feared I was really a fraud. I had to remind myself that there was no way I would ever know everything. There is so much to learn! You literally could spend every day of your life reading research articles and never know everything. What I learned wasn’t that I knew more than others; what I learned was the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.

So, realize that whatever stage you are at in your career or education or years of experience, there is a world out there much bigger than you or I could ever know!  Pause and think — are you happy with what you are doing and where you are going? Are you taking advantage of learning? And realize that no one knows everything. We are all lifelong learners.

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Topics: nursing school, continuing education

Continuing Education

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, May 03, 2013 @ 03:45 PM

BY ELIZABETH HANINK, RN, BSN, PHN

Continuing Education

How do you approach continuing education? Do you seek out courses that will truly enhance your skills as a practitioner? Or do you simply look around a week before the renewal deadline and pick an online course you think you can complete in a short amount of time? Is price a deciding factor for you — getting the most hours for the lowest cost or only considering courses offered for free at the most convenient facility?  

We have all probably fallen into several of the above practices at one time or another. While California’s requirement of 30 CEUs per year can hardly be considered onerous, somehow continuing education falls to the bottom of our lists of priorities. Also, some courses are very expensive. Often, a single day at a seminar that offers 7.5 contact hours will run over $200. With the increase in license fees — now $140 — it is quite possible to spend a hefty chunk of money just keeping your license current. Nonetheless, there is real value in many of the courses offered, and we owe it to ourselves to make the most of our continuing education.  ➲

Research the Providers
Because the Board of Registered Nursing certifies course providers, not individual courses, the key is to look for a good provider, either one you know from past experience or one that comes recommended.
Courses generally need to be related to either direct or indirect client or patient care, like patient education strategies, cultural and ethnic diversity or skills courses like stoma care. Indirect patient care may include courses in nursing administration, quality assurance and nurse retention, as well as instructor courses for CPR, BLS or ALS.

Multiple Formats
You can find good courses in any of several formats:

Online:  There are wonderful online companies that offer excellent material and the advantages of time flexibility and low cost. California is very generous in allowing all 30 required hours to be completed online; not all states are as accommodating. Almost every online course offers the option of a hardcopy text if you want it,  and buying one for a few extra dollars is a good, inexpensive way to build up a reference library.  Many online courses also offer the option of retaking the final test several times over a lengthy period (although I have never come across a continuing education test that was even remotely difficult). Several courses also offer a webinar component that allows for greater participation. Virtually all professional organizations offer online courses to their members.

All-day sessions:
 Usually taught by an expert in a particular field, these classes do not offer as much flexibility or as low a cost as online courses, but can be much more rewarding. Many all-day courses are very hands-on, with tons of take-home material and opportunities to ask the instructor questions — a luxury rarely afforded by online courses. Many all-day sessions target nurses in a particular practice area and presume a certain amount of basic knowledge of the subject matter. (All continuing education courses require that the information provided be above and beyond that required for licensure.)

Fun classes: Some courses promise entertainment, as well as education. Trips to resorts and cruises come to mind, offering sun, scenery, shows and good food — and learning, to boot. Who wouldn’t like that? This is, of course, the most costly option you can choose, but it might be a good way to combine work with pleasure.

Staying Close to Home
Your employer can be a very good source for a wide variety of continuing education programs. These courses are often free to employees and inexpensive for others. Sometimes sponsored by medical equipment vendors or drug companies, many classes of this type are short-term and highly specific. Very often, supervisors are quite accommodating about scheduling if the class is offered in-house — especially if the class is directly related to the care you give. Cross-disciplinary offerings are frequent in hospital settings, and as long as the class is Category I, you can even take courses directed at the medical staff. 

Nurses often make the mistake of thinking that if an instructor is local, he or she has nothing useful to say. But you might be surprised at the credentials of some of your fellow employees. Both day-long and short lunch-hour seminars can be a boon to your professional development and easy ways to rack up the CE hours.

BRN Requirements
As you look for courses to take, don’t forget these essential BRN requirements:

• You cannot take courses designed for nonprofessionals or that focus primarily on self-improvement, like weight reduction or yoga (although some stress-management courses are allowed).

• Providers cannot allow for partial credit, although it is acceptable to break up multiple-day seminars into separate offerings, each with separate CE hours. Staying for only half the day will not cut it.

• If you take a course in California, it must have a California BRN provider number. If taken out of state, courses offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center are acceptable, as are out-of-state courses offered by providers approved in another state — as long as the course are taken outside of California.

Exceptions to the Rule

The board also excuses certain licensees from needing to accrue CEUs:

•  Advanced degree candidates: If you are in the process of obtaining a higher degree, you can count some of your academic courses toward your CE requirement using the following equation: one semester unit equals 15 CEUs, one quarter unit equals 10 CEUs. 

• Hardship or disability: You may also be excused from some or all of your continuing education requirement if you can prove a personal hardship, such as a physical disability last more than a year, or if you are solely responsible for a totally disabled family member for more than a year.

•  Practicing outside California: If you are employed by a federal agency or in military service and are practicing outside of California, you can maintain your license without CEUs (although those organizations usually have their own requirements).

Other Considerations
Not working right now, but want to maintain an active license? You will need the CEUs, just like everyone else. But you can also choose inactive status; if you go on inactive status and then resume active status within eight years, you will only need 30 contact hours in total to be reinstated.

Don’t forget: It is not enough to take the course and earn the hours. You must retain proof of completion for at least four years, just in case you are one of the randomly selected ­­­­­­nurses whose CEUs the BRN decides to audit and verify.

Whatever your individual circumstances, don’t waste this opportunity for career growth. Choose your courses wisely and try to avoid having to select your CE hours based on expediency. This is the only post-licensure education some nurses will receive. Get as much as you can.   

Resources: 
The California Board of Registered Nursing website

Topics: nurse, RN, advice, continuing education

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