Importance of Continuing Education

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Nurses completing coursework

After earning licensure, nurses, including advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), are required to complete continuing education (CE) coursework throughout their careers. CEs help nurses brush up on essential skills, learn about new healthcare procedures and keep up with technological changes.

In 2011, a landmark study by the Institute of Medicine underscored the need for highly educated nurses in the United States. The study called on nurses to focus on advancing the profession and patient care. Since the study was published, registered nurses (RNs) and other healthcare leaders have been pursuing lifelong learning as an integral component of healthcare education.

“The ways in which nurses were educated during the 20th century are no longer adequate for dealing with the realities of health care in the 21st century. As patient needs and care environments have become more complex, nurses need to attain requisite competencies to deliver high-quality care,” the IOM, now called the National Academy for Medicine,” said in its report, “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education.”

The move to increasing levels of education for nurses is expected to continue in the years to come. RNs hoping to advance their careers have multiple opportunities for lifelong learning, including online master’s in nursing coursework, that can lead to a variety of MSN careers.

Why Take CE Courses?

Most states require nurses to complete CE every two to three years as a condition of licensure. Licensing renewal requirements differ by state, so nurses should check with their state licensing board to ensure they are compliant. Some employers also require nurses to complete CE for job-specific certifications.

Many APRNs also take CE courses to become certified in a specialty area, including:

The Nurse Journal said certifications provide opportunities for new professional experiences and show that nurses have expert knowledge in a specialty.

“Continuing education for nurses not only keeps nurses up to date on the latest advances in care and treatment, but it affords nurses an opportunity to explore other areas of nursing such as home health or hospice, wound care, pain management, geriatrics and case management and a host of other niches,” Nurse Journal said in “5 Most Common Types of Nursing Certifications You Should Have.”

Importance of Continuing Education in Nursing

In a blog post on, Kathy Quan, RN, recalls a moment when she realized the importance of continuing education for nurses. A fellow nurse had decided, based on outdated information, to administer an injection that had been designated unsafe because the location was too close to the sciatic nerve. Quan said she tried to explain the issue with the coworker.

“But she insisted that was what she was taught (many years before) and therefore it was correct, and she was going to follow what she had been taught,” Quan said in, “The Importance of Nursing Continuing Education – Nursing CE.” “I had to intervene and counsel her later. She was flabbergasted to think that nursing techniques would ever change.”

CE is vital to nursing because medicine and healthcare are continually changing and evolving, Quan noted, adding that it is also vital to evidence-based practices and positive patient outcomes.

Benefits of Continuing Education

At the same time, CE can help make nurses more marketable, which may lead to a bump in pay, said Brittney Wilson, who writes The Nerdy Nurse blog. Wilson said CE courses are a reliable source of information.

“Regulatory requirements are updated frequently, and it is important to be aware of these changes and to know how they might impact your nursing practices,” Wilson said in “7 Benefits of Continuing Education for Nurses.”

“Also, oftentimes parts of nursing assessments are phased out and replaced over time. It is important that you know what assessments are relevant to your patients and have not been replaced as a standard of care.”

For nurses who pursue MSN degrees, CE courses can be particularly important. As leaders in healthcare, nursing colleagues and patients look to APRNs for accurate information. Duquesne University provides an educational foundation for RNs as they pursue higher levels of learning, including an online master’s in nursing. Duquesne University offers three areas of specialization ­—Forensic Nursing, Nurse Education and Faculty Role and Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner. The school also offers MSN concentrations in Forensic Nursing, Nurse Education and Transcultural Nursing.

About Duquesne University’s Online MSN Program

Duquesne University’s MSN degree program prepares RNs for careers in leadership and to set new standards of care. The online MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate degree programs allow nurses to continue their careers and personal lives while earning an advanced education.

Duquesne University provides one-on-one faculty support to encourage success at every step.  Graduates are eligible to sit for certification boards, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner certification examinations. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.



The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education: NAM

Maximizing Mandatory Education Programs: Wolters Kluwer

The Importance of Nursing Continuing Education: Nursing CE

5 Most Common Types of Nursing Certifications You Should Have: Nurse Journal

Continuing Nurse Education:

7 Benefits of Continuing Education for Nurses: The Nerdy Nurse