The Importance of Continuing Education for RNs

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After graduating nursing school, you quickly realize that your learning hasn’t ended, but has really just begun. However, while a ton of invaluable hands-on learning takes place on the job, continuing education plays an important role in supporting your growth, both personally and professionally, throughout the course of your career.

As an RN, you may understand that continuing education is important on a high level, but may not be sure as to the specific reasons it is beneficial to your career. Yes, many states require a certain amount of continuing education hours to be completed each year to maintain your nursing license. But there are several more reasons to prioritize continuing education in your career.

7 Top Benefits of Continuing Education for RNs

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In addition to being a requirement in many states for maintaining your nursing license, continuing education has numerous other benefits, including the seven below.

  1. Stay Up-to-Date – The medical field is continually changing as new research findings are released. It is important to get refreshed on information you already know, as well as learn new information that pertains to your area of practice. By being proactive about investing in your education, you will always have the most current medical information, knowledge and skills.

This will not only help you, but make you more valuable to your employer (see more below). Additionally, your patients will benefit because you will have the most accurate and current knowledge, helping you to provide the best care possible.

  1. More Valuable to Your Employer – Nurses who are up-to-date on evidence-based practices and the latest clinical developments are more valuable to their employers. Being dedicated to continuing education shows your commitment to your profession and obtaining the latest knowledge and skills leads to better patient outcomes, better decision making and increased safety.
     
  1. Gain Diverse Knowledge – Continuing education credits for registered nurses cover a wide range of topics. You can select courses that are relevant to your current area of practice and, if there’s a certain specialty area that interests you, you can look for continuing education courses that will provide you with more comprehensive knowledge in that area. This is a great way to explore an area you’re interested in to see if you’re passionate enough about it to pursue certification in it.

The wide variety of continuing education courses available for nurses range from topics such as leadership and communication to patient safety and infection control. Courses also exist for all types of specialty areas, including cardiology, emergency, neonatal, maternal-newborn, critical care, pediatrics, pharmacology and more.

     4.  Better Pay – Education level and continuing education are two areas that are often factored into employee evaluations. Having additional education credits can often result in a bigger annual raise or even boost you to the next pay level.   

  1. Better Career Opportunities – Continuing education is the perfect way to increase your professional competence without going back to school for an advanced degree. You’ll be more marketable when applying for a new job or looking for a promotion and will stand out above your competition.
     
  2. Improved Problem Solving Skills – While continuing education increases your clinical knowledge, it can also improve your problem-solving skills and help you make better professional decisions.
  3. Improved Leadership Skills – In addition to improving your problem-solving skills, continuing education courses can also help you to improve your leadership skills. You can take courses to learn better strategies for managing staff or to help you attain the skills you need to get a promotion or move into a managerial position.

 Choosing Continuing Education Courses

With the plethora of continuing education courses at your disposal, it can be difficult to know which ones will best meet your needs. Start by looking at the learning objectives for any course you are considering and determine if the course can help you work toward your professional goals.

Then decide on the best format for your personality and schedule. For example, if you work the night shift, online courses that you can take at any time will most likely be the most convenient option for you. If you’re an auditory learner, online courses with video components and/or in-person classes will most likely be more beneficial than a course that is completely text-based.

Continuing education is an important component of being a lifelong learner. When you proactively dedicate yourself to your education, you, your employer and your patients will reap the benefits time and time again.

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