Just as you had continual education to obtain a position as a Registered Nurse, so you must continue your education as a nurse. The nursing continuing education requirements vary from state to state. On average, most states require twenty to thirty hours of continuing education for a nurse in a Registered Nurse (RN) position, currently employed or working at least part-time in the nursing field. This renewal is usually required every one to two years, depending upon the state in which you are employed.
The variance is great between states. For example, Louisiana bases CE (continuing education) requirements upon employment. If you are employed full time, you must complete five hours of education (called “contact hours”) per year; if you are part time, it extends to 10 hours, and if you work only 160 hours or less per year (effectively unemployed for most of the time, at least as a nurse), you must have 15 contact hours.
Contrast that with states such as Illinois, which requires 20 hours every two years regardless of employment, or Maryland, which demands “approved refresher courses” each year, or Oklahoma, which has no CE requirement whatsoever.
With so much variety, you may be tempted, if you are “shopping for a state,” so to speak, to pick one such as Oklahoma, thinking to yourself that you can lean back and bask in the shade of an RN certification that is, for all intents and purposes, permanent.
We really don’t advise that, nor do we adhere to the idea that you should only fulfill minimum requirements of per annum hours of contact and training.
And we’d like to tell you why.
Extended Nursing Continuing Education, and Why It’s a Good Idea
You have encountered minimalists all your life: the people who do the required work and absolutely no more, the ones who take the extended lunches, ask you to fill out the form and call back tomorrow, and generally make up the mediocrity squad at their place of work. Well, nursing continuing education requirements don’t allow for minimalists.
We’d like to think, if you’re reading this article with an eye to being a better RN, you’re better than a minimalist. So we have some reasons why you should continue your education as a nurse far beyond the requirements:
-It makes you more saleable. There is nothing more attractive to a boss in a teeming job market than the individual who can show a lot of experience; it means you can easily and quickly fit into the routine, and you won’t cost the hospital a lot of money in training.
-It makes you more knowledgeable. Added expertise and learning benefits you, gives you an edge in care and responsibility and sets you apart from the ordinary RN.
-It literally gives you better patient empathy. Patients are fine with a good bedside manner, but they respond to a professional who knows what is going on.
Convinced? Good. Now, where do you get this continuing education?
Nursing Continuing Education and Where You Find It
Most professional settings, including hospitals, crisis centers and any other medical facilities will offer what some businesses call the “go-getter” wall. You may have seen it; it’s the wall, bulletin board or announcement space that tells you about all those upcoming workshops, seminars, webinars and continuing professional meetings that will offer you exactly the kind of continuing education, new knowledge and cognitive dissonance you want to advance in your profession.
You’re bound to find something to make you more saleable, knowledgeable and empathetic.
Job Outlook for the Educated Nurse
If you doubt the efficacy of continuing education, here’s a nugget from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics: the average salary of an RN is $60,000, whereas the average salary of a Nurse Leader (someone who put in more time than you) is $85,000 and higher. Could you use an extra $25,000 a year?
Nursing Continuing Education Requirements should not be painful; they’re a step to a better future as a better nurse.