Why Continuing Education for Nurses Is Important

by Premier Medical Staffing Services on July 13, 2021 in Career Development


Looking for information on continuing education for nurses? First, read this guest blog post from Raelene Jessica and then check out the links below. 

As we enter the second year of restrictions and lockdowns, healthcare workers are still in high demand. Nurses are being spread thin and it has caused a critical shortage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 1.1 million new nurses are needed by next year (2022).

Because they will continue to play such a significant role in the future, nurses can benefit by looking into continuing education (CE). Though it may seem difficult right now due to extra workload and restrictions, there are several options for busy nurses that provide long-term benefits.

How Nurses Can Pursue Continuing Education

continuing education for nursesSome colleges offer weekend and night classes for in-person learning. For instance, St. Catherine University offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that limits daytime commitments. Such courses offer a hands-on teaching method that can be helpful for those who are hoping to refresh their skills.

While many schools offer this type of program, they will probably also provide an accelerated path with shorter hours and limited days. This may mean it takes a little longer to complete the program. Nurses looking to enroll in these classes can also inquire whether their past nursing school credits are recognized, thereby fast-tracking them. Just keep in mind that physical schools may offer state-specific continuing education units (CEU) that may or may not be recognized by the region you work in.

Before the pandemic, registered nurses (RNs) tended to work on average 14 hours a day, so it goes without saying that alternative schooling is the best option – even more so now.

Online nursing degree programs are particularly flexible options that many are looking into. With all the coursework being done online and assistance available 24/7, most students can complete the curriculum in just two years. Maryville University’s online MSN program helps nurses who are farther along into their career specialize in in-demand areas (e.g., adult-gerontology primary care nursing, psychiatric mental health nursing, family nursing). These programs help propel the students into leadership roles in the healthcare industry.

When looking for an online program, make sure that is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) and/or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Before the pandemic, registered nurses (RNs) tended to work on average 14 hours a day, so it goes without saying that alternative schooling is the best option – even more so now.

Advantages of Continued Education for Nurses

Competitive Compensation

Aside from improving your quality of work, continuing education also makes you eligible for higher salaries. CEUs, especially when they are not mandated by your state government, prove your knowledge, initiative, credibility and drive.

Employers would much rather pay a few nurses a higher salary than swell their ranks with multiple specialists who aren’t as well rounded. For instance, take psychiatric nurses. Since as early as 2019, 75% of all U.S. counties have had a shortage of mental health workers. This has allowed psychiatric nurses to demand higher compensation, especially following 2020. Today, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) has named this nursing specialties as one of the highest paying, with annual salaries averaging $139,000.

CEUs, especially when they are not mandated by your state government, prove your knowledge, initiative, credibility and drive.

Maintain Your Nursing License

In many states, nurses are legally required to complete CEUs to maintain their medical nursing licenses. The specifics vary by state, and these include how many hours must be completed and how frequent these must be taken. For example, in New Mexico, licensed practical nurses (LPN) are required to complete 30 hours of approved CE at least 24 months before the expiry of their license. Meanwhile, in Washington, the requirement is 45 hours of CE every three years (AAACEUs). If you’re planning to move states, it is especially important to know and satisfy your CEU requirements.

Reignite Your Passion

A 2021 study from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia revealed that burnout remains a top reason for resigning (Medical Xpress). Another survey from the American Nurses Association (ANA) showed that “among nurses aged 34 years and younger, 81% report feeling exhausted, 71% report feeling overwhelmed and 65% report being anxious or unable to relax.” At that stage of fatigue, it can be easy to forget the passion that drives you to serve. Taking a CEU can reinvigorate you and get you excited again. Since most CEs are quite diverse, you can even take this chance to expand your medical interests past what you’re used to.

Admittedly, while there are many flexible ways for nurses to pursue CE, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. However, furthering your career is also a form of self-care that you deserve. Try discussing this interest with your supervisor, too. Often, hospitals will even help adjust your schedule and/or cover tuition fees. The role that nurses play will only get bigger, and your contribution is invaluable.

Continuing Education Resources

Continuing Education Courses from ANA
Free CE Activities from AACN
Free Nursing CEU Courses from Nurse.com
Nursing CE Requirements by State

Raelene JessicaThis blog post was guest authored by Raelene Jessica, a long-time student and writer with a special interest in health and wellness.

Raelene grew up in a family that valued holistic health more than any other and hopes to influence others to improve their health through her writing.


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