The American Nurses Association calls professional nursing a life-long learning process. Licensed nurses at every level must continue to look for new opportunities for training and education in order to enhance their academic and clinical experience and improve the quality of their practice. Nurses commonly enroll in accredited training programs and continuing education courses so that they can fulfill the requirements that are needed to renew their licenses.
There are even continuing education opportunities for nurses at the masters and doctorate levels. This is especially true for advanced practice nurses (APNs) who have specialized skill sets. Continuing education is particularly important for APNs who not only have to keep their skills sharp but must also keep up with scientific and technological advances in their specialty field.
Continuing education and clinical experience also provide you with a way to strengthen your resume and help you find the best career that is available at your level. Advancing your education makes you more valuable to your employer and on the job market if you ever want to look for a new job.
While many continuing education programs are optional, some are required by state law, by certifying organizations and by healthcare employers. The California Board of Registered Nurses, for example, requires RNs to complete 30 hours in continuing education courses every 2 years. The specific requirements where you live will probably be different, but almost every state has official continuing education standards for nurses.
Sometimes a continuing education or advanced training program will be specific to your specialization. Other times, however, they are general courses on topics like research, patient care, coping with death or interpersonal relationship skills.
Common continuing education courses
Continuing education courses offer a variety of ways for you to train for jobs at a more advanced level or to simply improve the skills that you use in your daily practice. These courses can be refresher classes on basic medical techniques and terminology or they can be training in advanced practice or new medical technology.
Wound care courses teach nurses about the essential aspects of wound care. You will practice strategies for cleansing wounds, identifying the signs of infection and discovering factors that prevent healing. In this course, you will develop the skills that you need to treat acute and infected wounds and identify the phases of healing.
Risks of anesthesia
This course allows advanced practice nurses to pursue further training in fields that involve the use of clinical anesthesia. In this course, you will learn how to track a patient’s physical reaction to these drugs before, during and after medical procedures. You will also develop the skills that you need to use a patient’s medical records as a tool to assess their risk for anesthesia-related health complications.
Humor and nursing
This course is usually open for all types of nurses and helps them to understand how humor can build strong patient relationships and even promote health. During the course, you will learn about the positive physiological effects of laughter and get practical tips on how to include humor in your everyday clinical practice.
Taking your continuing education nursing classes online
If you want continuing education resources and training online that goes beyond what your workplace offers, you will find a number of online programs and resources that are offered by universities and independent continuing education course providers. If you work in a hospital, simply ask your nurse educator about these options.
Another excellent online training resource is the Nursing Continuing Education Directory (NCED). This convenient website compiles and organizes hundreds of continuing education resources for nurses from a variety of sources. The directory includes information on continuing education courses for RNs, LVN/LPNs and advanced practice nurses.
The NCED’s collection of resources is organized by general nursing fields like cardiology, critical care and oncology. Simply click on your area of specialization and you will find a long list of available classes. The directory includes the name and price of the course as well as a link to the website of the organization that provides it.
The American Nurses Association also offers independent study modules that help professionals deepen their knowledge and adapt their skills to new science and medical technology. Students who complete courses from this nationally recognized nursing organization demonstrate their clinical expertise and experience in their specialization.