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Blog>Guides>Guide to Nursing Continuing Education in 2021 and What It Means for You

Guide to Nursing Continuing Education in 2021 and What It Means for You

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Overview

  • Continuing education (CE) helps nurses provide better patient care
  • CE can also benefit a nurse’s career, opening new opportunities
  • Some states require CE to maintain nursing licensure
  • There are many formats and types of CE courses available

Introduction

Healthcare is constantly evolving with medical advances and the introduction of new technology to help streamline care and improve patient outcomes. As a nurse, it’s important to stay on top of these changes so that you can deliver the best quality of care. Continuing education (CE) gives you the knowledge you need to keep up with your evolving role.

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Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) refers to a type of CE designed for nursing professionals. CNE programs are shorter and more focused than the broad nursing education completed to become a nurse. They may also focus on niche fields, like integrating electronic health data for how to deal with opiate addiction.

CNE programs generally don’t award a formal degree upon completion. Rather, you’ll usually get a certificate and formal documentation attesting to the fact that you’ve completed a set number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs). CEUs may also be called Continuing Education Credits (CEC). In addition, most states require nurses to complete a minimum amount of contact hours via CEU courses to maintain their nursing accreditation.

Luckily, many accredited CE providers are available, making it easier than ever to access the continuing education courses you need. Read on to learn why CE is so important for nurses, how it can benefit your career, and what options are available to healthcare providers in the nursing field.

Why Is Continuing Education Important in Nursing Work?

Continuing education helps maintain high-quality patient care by ensuring nurses are maintaining their knowledge and practical skills. It also encourages professionals to stay up to date with emerging innovations and developments in the field. First and foremost, CE helps maintain the high standards of care that patients deserve.

Is Nursing Continuing Education Mandatory?

Usually, CE isn’t optional — it’s a requirement. You may need to meet certain continuing education requirements to keep your nursing license valid throughout your career. Some states may mandate a minimum amount of credits or contact hours for nursing license renewal. The requirements for continuing education depend on where you live.

For example, in Maine, nurses aren’t required to complete CE. However, in South Carolina, registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP), and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are required to complete 30 contact hours every two years. In contrast, North Carolina’s requirements vary depending on whether you’re an RN, NP, or LPN.

Meanwhile, in New York, CE requirements cover specific areas, such as infection control and child abuse recognition. Florida similarly requires highly specific types of CE training, including HIV/AIDS care and domestic violence topics.

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Check with your state board of nursing to determine the CE requirements needed to maintain accreditation in your area. The requirements in Kentucky or Utah will vary from those in Alabama or Iowa. It’s important to do location-specific research.

Further, note that your employer may also have in-house requirements regarding CE. If you’re currently working as a nurse, verify with your employer whether there are any courses available — or mandated — that you should take.

Types of Nursing Continuing Education

Nurse continuing education can take various formats, including live classes, online courses, conferences, webinar participation, and self-study education packets. Before enrolling in a CE course, confirm that it’s accredited and accepted by your state nursing board. For example, the Nevada State Board of Nursing has a list of accepted CE providers online.

Popular nursing CE providers include the:

Some topics you may find offered by nursing CEU education providers include:

  • Pain management
  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • Cultural competencies (such as recognizing and addressing population health disparities)
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Opioid epidemic-related issues
  • Mental health topics, like anxiety disorders
  • Child/partner abuse recognition
  • Chronic disease-specific courses (including diabetes and chronic kidney disease)
  • Concussion diagnosis and treatment
  • Hospital infection prevention
  • Hypertension care
  • Human trafficking recognition
  • Stroke care

The list above is a sampling of the continuing medical education (CME) topics you may encounter. Further, note that the selection of courses available will evolve. For example, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, courses on mental health and personal protective equipment (PPE) usage became increasingly relevant.

How Continuing Education Benefits Your Nursing Career

Above all, taking CE is about giving your patients the best nursing care possible. However, it also offers benefits for nurses. Below are some advantages as a healthcare professional:

  • Seize the opportunity to explore new fields in nursing that you may not be familiar with, such as geriatrics, wound care, and hospice care.
  • Gain specialization in a field of expertise, such as forensic nursing or nursing education (if you want to help train the next generation).
  • Boost your resume, expanding your career opportunities in the nursing field.
  • Opportunities to apply for higher-paying jobs by acquiring new skills.
  • Demonstrate to current and possible future employers that you take your job seriously and are always striving for excellence.

Finally, you will enjoy peace of mind and confidence knowing you can offer a gold-star standard of care.

How to Include Nursing Continuing Education on Your Resume

If you participate in professional development courses to enhance your nursing practice abilities, make sure to add them to your resume. Add a section for continuing education under your main education section (where you list your nursing degree, undergraduate degree, etc.).

Make sure to include the course title, the course provider, and how many CEUs it included. If the course was in-person, note the location, as well. If it was a digital course, be sure to specify this. This section should cover the key FAQs that potential employers may have about your CE credentials.

Find Top Nursing Jobs in Your Area on Joblist

Your continuing education as a nurse can open up many new opportunities for you. Take advantage of it. When you’re ready for your next nursing job, Joblist can help! Use our platform to search for opportunities in your area. We also offer practical career advice covering topics like writing resumes and cover letters on the Joblist blog. Check it out today!

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