Continuing education is an integral part of being a healthcare professional and how you can stay current with the latest research and technologies. As a nurse, staying up to date with the latest medical evidence is vital to providing the best and highest quality care for your patients. Creating an effective schedule for nurses to complete their continuing education requirements can be challenging. Still, with the right strategies and tools, it is possible to make the process much easier. In this blog post, we will look at how to create a schedule for nurses to complete their continuing education requirements without the usual stress it entails.
The number of continuing education credits and how often nurses must complete them varies by state for recertification. For example, in Washington state, nurses must renew their license yearly with proof of working at least 90 contact hours and submit evidence of 45 hours of continuing education credits every three years. However, in Arizona, nurses must renew their licenses every four years with proof of working 960 contact hours as a nurse within the last five years. Additionally, the state does not require continuing education credits because they require refresher board exams and courses that replace ongoing education.
As you can see, just two states are drastically different in the continuing education they require of nurses for recertification. This variation only increases when considering other states and international nurses, making it crucial to check your state’s board of nursing for their requirements.
As continuing education requirements can be confusing, it can be helpful and even morale-boosting for organizations to assist with a schedule and other tools. Accordingly, here are some tips and tricks that managers can implement when creating a continuing education schedule for their staff nurses.
Nurses with board-approved continuing education programs at their organizations are more involved and often have higher job satisfaction. This program is usually a full-time job and includes daily, weekly, monthly, and annual events such as conferences and on-demand and virtual learning opportunities. These in-house programs can be incredibly valuable for nurses because they offer free and accessible education, whereas outside continuing education is often costly and must be scheduled around work. Having education programs helps organizations keep nurses engaged in their continuing education more regularly.
People are more mobile and spend more time online nowadays than ever before. Those trends only skyrocketed with the COVID-19 pandemic as many things moved online and remained there. Continuing education is one of those things that can continue online to help nurses engage at all levels, no matter their schedule. It’s crucial to have options, including in-person groups and classes, live webinars, and on-demand online courses. Having these different modes of delivery provides increased access and caters to diverse learning styles.
Many nurses scramble to finish their continuing education at the last minute, just before their due date. Milestones and check-ins throughout the year can show the passage of time and keep a project or goal on track. Helping nurses set goals for continuing education milestones, such as having five hours completed in quarter one and five in quarter two, prevents them from stressing and rushing at the end of the year.
Rewards and positive reinforcement inherently boost motivation and morale. The vital part is offering rewards that nurses want and for things you need them to do. Provide an extra day of PTO for the nurse who finishes their continuing education first. Making the reward rewarding can encourage employees to do better work, which they can apply to complete their continuing education hours.
Finally, have some other nurses support you. Nurses learn best from other nurses, and having someone at their level to help them with their continuing education will make it feel less like a chore. Having two or three nurses helping you to run the continuing education schedule can remove a significant burden and provide them with a higher level of autonomy.
With these best practices, you’re ready to start developing the schedule. To do this, you can use various software to help. StaffGarden is an example of this type of software that creates clinical-focused and management-related solutions by developing a “Clinical Success Cloud.” This software provides transparency and accessibility to the staff nurses participating in clinical ladders and professional development.
They also collect data for managers to help secure specific resources for their staff. Their program Grow is a cloud-based, mobile, and intuitive platform that managers can use and customize for their staff nurses to develop clinical ladders, continuing education programs, and more. Overall, Grow provides an easy point of entry for nurses and managers to participate in the professional growth of their staff.
Nurses often struggle to maintain their licenses, certifications, and clinical knowledge. The requirements vary based on state and can be confusing at best. A continuing education program can help your staff stay current on their requirements. This program can exist in your organization and offer various educational opportunities over multiple delivery modes. Throughout this program, super users can encourage staff and perform check-ins to ensure all nurses are on track with their requirements.
Software like Grow from StaffGarden is perfect for developing this program for your staff. If this sounds like something you need for your unit or yourself, you can schedule a demo today.
Arizona State Board of Nursing. (n.d.). Renew Your License. https://www.azbn.gov/licenses-certifications/renew-your-license
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Washington State Department of Health. (n.d.). License Renewals. https://doh.wa.gov/licenses-permits-and-certificates/professions-new-renew-or-update/license-renewals/renewals-online
Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C
Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, yoga teacher, and nurse writer who specializes in articles, blogging, and copy. She has been in nursing since 2014, working in intensive care, women’s health, and primary care as a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. She has written for a variety of publications including Rncareers.org, Moxie Scrubs, Aspen University, and more. She is also the winner of the 2020 Shift Report writing contest for Next Level Nursing. Her specialty topics include mental health, health and wellness, yoga philosophy and practice, and community health. She also serves as a mental health coach primarily to other nurses and healthcare workers concerning healthy lifestyles and mental health.