Some states require you to get continuing education (CE) credits to maintain your license; others don’t. But in either case, it’s absolutely essential for you to continue learning throughout your professional career. As you know, healthcare advances occur every day, and it’s your job to stay on top of them.
Luckily, you have a lot of options when it comes to CE. There are all-day seminars, weekend conferences, online classes and journal articles with send-in quizzes. But don’t just pick the most convenient option; pick the most meaningful option. Remember, the purpose of CE is to learn something new, not to rack up easy credits.
Begin by identifying gaps in your knowledge. If you’re an OB nurse who works with postpartum moms, it might make sense to take a lactation consultant course. If you’re a med-surg nurse with an interest in diabetes, check out some CE programs detailing the latest thinking in diabetic management. If you don’t know what you’d like to learn, browse around. Something is sure to catch your interest.
Once you know what you want to learn, begin looking at where and how. Finances are a legitimate concern, so check the cost of any program, then check to see how much your facility will cover, if anything. (Keep in mind that CE expenses may also be tax-deductible.) Beyond that, consider your personal style of learning. Do you do best with hands-on activity? Are large lectures your thing or do you prefer small groups? Are you comfortable with computers?
Then consider your personal situation. Are you pressed for time? Looking for a weekend away? Hoping to network with other nurses? Added together, all of these answers will help you select a CE program that’s just right for you.
Please note: Some states even send out required CEUs via mail that are to be completed in order to keep your license active. Oftentimes the hospitals themselves will offer courses for continuing education that may be relevant to the specialty that you work in. Be sure to ask the manager if any such opportunities exist in your own department.
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!