Nurses are highly trained health-care professionals who must be licensed in their state of practice in order to gain employment and career advancement opportunities. Because of this requirement, it is essential that a nurse keeps his skills and knowledge up to date by taking further or continuing education, or refresher courses where appropriate.
- Skill level:
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Check with your state board of nursing for any compulsory education requirements. Some nursing boards specify that as part of initial licensing or license renewal, certain skills, knowledge or nursing competencies must be re-evaluated through refresher or certified update classes. For example, the California Board of Nursing requires registered nurses to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education classes and submit proof of this during license renewal applications. Arizona, Hawaii and Georgia have no continuing education requirements for registered or licensed practice nurses (RNs or LPNs), while Illinois requires 20 contact hours of continuing education every two years for both RNs and LPNs. Minnesota RNs must prove they have completed 24 hours, while LPNs should have finished at least 12 hours every two years.
Decide if you want continuing education (CE) or further education.
Continuing education courses are designed to update the skills and knowledge within a particular topic of a specific nursing speciality. For example, neonatal nurses who look after newborns in acute or critical care nursing facilities can take CE subjects such as Congenital Heart Disease in the Neonate or Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia. A few state boards of nursing have specific CE criteria, such as Kentucky (for LPNs), Nevada and New York. Kentucky LPNs must take CE in courses such as Dementia in the Elderly, HPIAA and Confidentiality and Infection Control for Healthcare Professionals. These courses vary in duration from one to three hours.
Further education means enrolling in a college nursing program to acquire higher degrees or other forms of certification. Such qualifications include the RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), RN to MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) and the Doctorate in Nursing.
Search for education providers. Continuing education providers include private companies such as Gannett Healthcare Group's CE Direct program, which can be taken entirely online. Alternatively, refresher courses across the U.S. can be found at places like Santa Ana College in California, South Dakota State University or the NRP Nurse Refresher Program in Boise, Idaho. The national American Nurses Credentialing Center also provides a Nursing Skills Competency Program which includes courses such as the Certified Lactation Counselor offered through the Healthy Children Project or the Diabetes Management Certificate Program taught by the University of Southern Indiana.
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