When it comes to choosing Nurse Continuing Education (nurse CE) courses, the good news is, the options are almost limitless.
Beyond an almost infinite amount of topics from which to choose, there are now more ways than ever to access these courses and activities. Then again, for some nurses, unlimited options can be bad news. The vast array of options can leave nurses suffering from “too many choices” paralysis:
- “Should I take the two-day seminar or the one-hour webinar?”
- “Is the actual book better than the downloadable article?”
- “Should I expand my general knowledge or sharpen a particular skill?”
Use these five basic questions to make it easy to set your course and navigate the sea of nurse CEs.
- What are your specific requirements for re-licensure and certification? This is, of course, the most important and most practical consideration. Deadlines for meeting state nurse CE requirements generally coincide with your nursing license renewal. The content accepted for nurse CE, and the hours required, will vary. Be sure you know the nurse CE requirements and renewal deadlines for your state license(s) and any Nursing certifications that you may have.
- What are your education goals? Aside from specific licensing and nursing certification requirements, what is your overall plan for your career? Are you a novice who wants to develop your nursing competencies within your specialty? Are you an expert who wants more advanced training? Maybe you’d like to branch out and study something different that you always wanted to learn. This is where you can plan your nurse continuing education path and choose learning activities that can shape your career.
- What can you afford? If your employer funds CE, take advantage of it. But remember to get approval: Some employers provide nurses with a CE stipend each year and others offer free nurse CEs but may have restrictions as to which nursing CEs are eligible. Many employers offer discounts through relationships with CE providers. If you are financing your nurse CEs yourself, shop around. There’s a wide range of pricing, and cost is not necessarily commensurate with value. You can find great content that is not expensive.
- Which content is most valuable? Researching nurse CE providers and their offerings doesn’t have to be confusing, since the good ones make it easy to see their value. First, ensure that the provider is recognized or accepted by your licensing or certification body. For example, a provider with ANCC accreditation has met rigorous standards for developing courses. You can also review the organization’s website, check the Better Business Bureau, professional organizations, or ask your employer or colleagues for recommendations. Providers who are well-established and whose authors and presenters are experts in their fields are your best bets. Look for reviews or samples of the book, articles or seminars you’re interested in to help evaluate quality.
- Does this fit my schedule? Can you take a day or two off for a seminar? What about travel time? Would an online webinar or downloadable article be more practical? And how much time do you have to complete the course? There are so many convenient ways of accessing nurse CEs, there is no excuse for not finding one to fit your lifestyle.
By using this incremental checklist to determine your nurse continuing education plan, you will complete your CE requirements in no time to ensure your license(s) and certification remain current!
Plan ahead, take advantage of all the great nursing courses out there, and be proud of your accomplishments. With each nurse CE you earn, you’re expanding your knowledge, improving your skills and promoting better patient care.