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The importance of continuing education as a nurse

Photo: The importance of continuing education as a nurse
Once qualified, nurses have a duty to continue their education so that they can remain aware of and keep up to date with medical advancements and new research. Knowledge is a powerful tool in healthcare and a well-educated nurse can be the difference between a patient’s life and death.

Following up with education also offers nurses broader career opportunities; some nurses find themselves moving from a hospital job into research. A degree or extra qualifications offer the opportunity to move into specialty careers or to work as a nurse practitioner as part of a family practice.

While studying for an extra qualification, nurses can improve their decision making and critical care skills, which makes them eligible for senior nursing positions such as Nurse Unit Manager, Clinical Nurse Specialist or Director of Nursing.
Carrying on with education doesn’t need to be difficult. Many schools offer evening classes or online nursing programmes so that students can study at a time that suits them. Some study programmes also allow students to stay in touch with their professors using instant messaging, online messaging boards, and have live classes performed on webcam (1).

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) is the statutory authority which regulates the practice of nurses and midwives in each state and territory of Australia. In order to develop professional codes and guidelines, the NMBA requires each registered nurse completes a minimum number of CPD hours which are relevant to the nurse’s context of practice.

Some examples of active CPD learning include (2);

  • Keeping a practice journal
  • Acting as a tutor or mentor
  • Participating in committees for quality improvement
  • Undertaking supervised practices for skill development
  • Writing educational material for publication, such as books or journal articles
  • Reading professional material
  • Developing guidelines and protocols
  • Presenting or attending conferences, lectures or seminars
  • Contributing to research

Nurses need to keep evidence of their CPD learning but will only be required to submit a declaration that they have completed their CPD hours. If nurses are randomly selected for audit, they will be required to submit evidence of their CPD for the last three years (2).

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Clinical learning

Clinical learning hours ensure that nurses are able to build on their clinical skills; many learning programmes award a certificate of completion to nurses who complete their learning hours. Clinical learning directly involves patients and their problems, so that students can receive as much clinical exposure as possible by having maximum contact with patients early on in a nursing career. Students can build on their confidence and understanding of history taking, physical examinations, clinical reasoning, decision making, and professionalism (3).

Clinical learning motivates students as they are able to actively participate in their education. It is also a way for students to model their behaviour, professionalism, and attitude on their teacher, usually a senior nurse or doctor. Clinical learning allows currently practising nurses to build their professional development and increase their chances of advancing their career as they learn on the job.


Sources:

  1. Nurse Together
  2. Nurse Point
  3. The BMJ

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