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Nursing Is a Lifelong Learning Profession

For most people, learning does not stop with school. Whatever the interest or need, there is no end to free online courses, reading material and talks to promote personal growth. Ongoing learning is also important for success in almost every career. For registered nurses (RNs), lifelong learning is part of the profession. In fact, it is a necessity.

Lifelong learning is so essential to nursing that it is required by the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Continuing education (CE) is also required by most states for license renewal.

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can be part of a nurse's ongoing education and career advancement. For example, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) offers an online MSN in Nursing Administration that prepares graduates with the leadership and management skills to advance their practice in a variety of healthcare settings.

Why Is Lifelong Learning Necessary for Nurses?

Nursing is about quality care. Meeting that expectation means keeping up with the necessary skills and knowledge to protect patient safety. This is the driving force behind continuing education requirements for nurses.

Healthcare is constantly evolving. Continuing education helps RNs update their skills and knowledge on a regular basis to improve patient outcomes. It may also promote career advancement, given that RNs who keep pace with emerging technologies typically find themselves in demand.

Consider the ongoing advances in healthcare technologies. For example, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) do more than replace time-consuming paper charts. They facilitate care coordination, a potential lifesaver for patients with complex needs. A few other examples include:

  • Patient-Generated Health Data (PGHD)
  • Telehealth services
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Whether in technology or another area, CE helps RNs meet the challenges of a healthcare system that is changing by the minute.

How Do CE Requirements Work?

Nurses are not alone in their commitment to lifelong learning. A Pew Research Center study found that 63% of those with full- or part-time jobs took a course or received training in the past year to improve job skills or expertise.

These learning activities may relate to keeping a job. But the value of lifelong learning goes beyond licensure. As a Nurse Journal article points out, continuing education can help RNs:

  • Stay current in evidence-based practices
  • Minimize legal risks (by adhering to current nursing practice)
  • Land promotions or more desirable positions
  • Earn a higher salary
  • Gain professional and personal satisfaction

All RNs take the same licensing exam. From there, licensure requirements vary from state to state. The Texas Board of Nursing, for example, requires RNs to complete 20 contact hours of continuing nursing education in their area of practice for license renewal.

Online courses and live webinars are common choices for continuing education. An employer may also offer onsite training or coursework that qualifies for CE hours. Attending seminars at conferences is another option. As a bonus, conferences can be a great way to build a professional network.

Of course, there is added value in meeting CE requirements by earning an MSN. In Texas, for example, RNs may earn continuing education hours by successfully completing academic courses for a degree in nursing.

RNs who graduate from MSN programs can expect to have wide-ranging job opportunities, including leadership roles. Earning an MSN can also put RNs on a path to pursuing a doctorate, which can prepare them to educate and inspire new generations of nurses. 

Learn more about TAMIU's online MSN – Nursing Administration program.


Sources:

American Nurses Association: Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements

Pew Research Center: Lifelong Learning and Technology

Nurse Journal: The Nurse's Continuing Education Toolkit

Texas Board of Nursing: Education - Continuing Competency Requirements

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