Healthcare is a technologically advanced, rapidly evolving field. No sooner is the latest therapy devised than the next advancement is on the horizon. For the good of their patients, it’s up to nurses to keep up. The good news is that there’s an emphasis on education in medicine, and opportunities to learn are always within reach. Today, nurses have a wide range of ways to keep up with the latest, no classroom required. Choose the options that best fit your learning style to help keep you in the know.
How Do Nurses Stay Up to Date?
Nurses turn to a wide variety of places to increase their knowledge, learn about new technologies, and continuously build the skills needed to offer the quality of care patients deserve. Nurses can look to professional associations, journals, blogs, social media, videos, podcasts, continuous education courses, events and colleagues to stay up-to-date.
Professional associations support the interest of a particular field and its members. Professions such as nursing oversee themselves, setting standards for education and ethics and conferring certifications.
The American Nurses Association (ANA), for example, partners with the Standards for Excellence Institute. Together, they develop best practice models, serving as a resource for members and state nursing boards. They collaborate on rule making and education standards.
Their sister organization, the American Nurses Credentialing Center is responsible for promoting advanced training in specialty fields, elevating the image of nursing in healthcare and creating the next generation of nurse leaders.
Membership in organizations like the ANA offers a front-row view of changes in healthcare as they develop. Continuing education programs satisfy state board requirements for licensure and give nurses at all levels certification opportunities that further professional competency and advancement.
Journals and Blogs
Peer-reviewed journals are how most research information reaches professionals, they’re a nurse’s source for the latest developments in the field. Nurses can choose from tax-deductible publications dedicated to topics from gerontology and cardiology to psychiatry and infectious disease. Available in print or online, articles cover the latest technological and treatment advances and offer tips for integrating them into a nurse’s practice.
Professional blogs often mirror the content in journals, providing a format for group discussion. But blogs also delve into personal development and how to troubleshoot issues on the job while encouraging networking and peer support.
Keeping up with the hundreds of topics available, can be a challenge, so a nurse can consider setting up an RSS feed to track content. It helps a nurse sort through the clutter by showing them only headlines from their subscribed sites.
Social media can feel like quicksand, it’s easy to get distracted or mired in conversations that don’t contribute to learning. But there are also forums dedicated to sharing ideas, and many include the same authors a nurse can find in journals. It’s a way to both stay up-to-date and connect.
A nurse benefits from others’ expertise, and they’ll learn from colleagues. Subscribing to groups of interest lets nurses see the group’s latest posts first, so information doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Video and Podcasts
There are more ways to communicate in addition to the written word. If a nurse learns best by listening, they can stay up-to-date with podcasts. Podcasts are available on most popular platforms, and they’re convenient, a nurse can listen hands-free, on-demand in the car on their way to work.
Video presentations are especially useful for learning hands-on tasks or for brushing up on techniques that aren’t used often. If the last time a nurse started an IV line was in school, a video demonstration is a helpful refresher.
Continuous Education Courses
Most states require continuing educating (CE) credits for continued licensure, ensuring nurses remain as up-to-date in their field as they were when they graduated from school. Requirements vary with some states mandating formal classes or at least some in-person attendance at approved seminars. Others allow all learning to be online.
State and national professional associations are among the best sources for CE courses. Because they help write the rules, the material covers timely topics and meets board standards. Why invest time in classes that are obsolete?
Professional nursing conferences are where cutting-edge developments are introduced. More than a lecture or course, they’re like a World’s Fair for the industry. A nurse will see new equipment and learn about novel concepts. Conferences are an invaluable blend of learning, networking and fun.
Because employers depend on attendees to bring fresh perspectives to their organizations, many will pay for tickets. Members of professional associations have an opportunity for discounts and an early look at the program. A nurse can join work groups for close-up reviews of specific issues.
While a nurse is there, they should make it a point to meet speakers and conference leadership. Introducing themselves and exchanging contact information with the people making an impact in their field can create professional opportunities.
Formal learning has an essential place in nursing, but colleagues are among the best sources of information. A busy hospital may employ hundreds of nurses, each with their own skillset and knowledge to share. Sometimes, staying current on the latest trends is a simple as asking.
Most employers recognize the need for networking among their staff, and they encourage peer-to-peer learning. Some offer mentorship programs that pair new graduates with seasoned nurses and skills fairs that enable staff to stay up-to-date with practical techniques.
Why is Staying Up-To-Date Essential for Nurses?
There are no shortcuts in healthcare, peak performance requires a lifelong love of learning. Staying current in the field of nursing has many benefits including professional competency, liability protection, and career advancement.
Benefit #1: Professional Competency
Nurses are front line care providers. Giving patients the quality care, they deserve, requires advanced skills. Staying current is a must for all nurses, regardless of degree or experience. Patients and employers demand it.
Nursing associations are encouraging all states to adopt annual continuing education requirements for registered nurses. It gives the profession credibility and supports nurses in their autonomy. As healthcare becomes more complex, nurses are taking leadership roles, so professional competency is crucial.
Staying up-to-date also enhances self-confidence. Learning new tasks isn’t easy, but once a nurse has mastered them, it feels like they can conquer the world.
Benefit #2: Liability Protection
As nurses, licensure is required for public safety. People have the right to know the staff who care for them have the knowledge and training to do their job. If something goes wrong, a nurse could be liable, if their actions didn’t meet professional standards.
An average liability claim, against nurses, can cost insurers more than $200,000. In an ever-changing field, staying abreast of best practices protects nurses and their employers from liability.
Benefit #3: Career Advancement
Advancing in any career requires experience, but the more skills a nurse can demonstrate, the faster they will get ahead. In nursing, most management positions include supervising other professional staff. Nurse managers serve as clinical resources, and to teach, they must learn.
Surveys of human resource professionals consistently show that continuing education plays a significant role in promotions. Finding a job as a nurse is never hard, but a dream job is something that is earned.
Keeping your skills relevant is important in any field, but when lives depend on it, it’s critical. Once, continuing education meant sitting in a classroom and losing a day’s work, but now it’s as easy as downloading a program from home. As medicine advances, so should you. It’s fundamental to quality care and career success.
Are you looking for ways to stay up-to-date once you become a nurse? Want to learn more about becoming an LPN? The Practical Nursing program at Gwinnett Institute provides training to prepare college graduates to enter the nursing profession as an LPN. Classroom theory, challenging assignments, skill labs, simulations, and clinical experiences help to prepare college graduates for an entry-level nursing position.
After graduating from the Nursing diploma program and successfully passing the NCLEX-PN licensure exam, nursing students will further their career to become a licensed practical nurse. There is an overall need for LPNs in response to the aging baby boomer population.
*While Gwinnett Institute provides test preparation and review assistance to college students, it cannot guarantee any college student will be able to take or pass any type of licensure exam. College students must be mindful throughout their entire training program that licensure is a prerequisite for employment as a nurse and to diligently prepare themselves to meet this important requirement.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming an LPN at Gwinnett Institute.