Nurses work in highly-demanding and fast-paced environments. Every day, they must effectively communicate with other healthcare personnel while making quick decisions regarding patient care. Newly posted nurses may experience some challenges, especially in their first nursing position. But as much as advanced nurses may have skills and experience to deal with various workplace situations, the healthcare industry keeps changing. And this is where continuing education comes in. Undertaking a professional development course will help both new and seasoned nurses to enhance their skills and advance their careers. Continuing education also comes with the following benefits:
Improve Your Lifestyle
One of the reasons why you should pursue further education is that it will increase your career earnings. Even if you don’t acquire an advanced nursing degree, continuing education programs can propel you to higher-paid positions at your workplace, which will ultimately result in more earnings. For instance, if you have an associate degree in nursing or ADN, you can go back to school and acquire a bachelor of science in nursing or BSN. And in some cases, your employer might reimburse the costs that you will incur while studying. You will also receive a pay increase, once you’ve acquired that degree. As you can see, it’s a win for you, whichever way you look at it.
Increase Chances of a Promotion
Some nurses don’t bother to continue with their education, based on the assumption that their current level of education and certification is enough to land them a decent job. While that might be true to some extent, there is a high chance that you will need a higher educational level, if you need a promotion. Assuming that a higher position has opened up at your workplace, the human resource officer or your employer will definitely consider the individual with a higher education level. Unless you are planning on spending your entire nursing career at the basic level, continuing your education will open up more opportunities while increasing your chances of ascending the career ladder.
Assuming that you’ve already completed your basic nursing certification and landed a job, going back to school to enhance your skills might not be the most exciting thing in the world. After all, you can comfortably pay your bills and live a decent life. However, going back to school means you are sacrificing your leisure time now for a better future, and you can’t do it without self-discipline. The self-discipline that you will acquire when you go back to school will come in handy, in various aspects of your life. For instance, most people join gyms at the start of every year, but only a small percentage manage to continue exercising the entire year. And this mostly boils down to lack of self-discipline. With self-discipline, you will accomplish plenty of things in your life. It will help you to weed out all the things that don’t add any value to your life such as playing video games or watching TV over the weekends and focus that energy towards something more productive. And as you might probably know, self-discipline is what separates greatness and mediocrity.
Keep Up with Future Authorizations
In the future, there is a high chance that nurses might be required to be holders of a bachelor’s degree before they can acquire licenses and certifications. In fact, in the State of California, all registered nurses are required to complete at least thirty contact hours of continuing education after every 2 years, if they want to maintain an active license. This, in effect, means that it’s compulsory for nurses in this jurisdiction to undertake continuing education, if they are to remain licensed nurses. Also, the education provider must be recognized by the Board of Registered Nursing. This continuing education is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of a registered nursed, beyond their current level. Apart from keeping up with future authorizations, continuing your nursing education will also make it easy for you to transition from one nursing field to the other.
Expand Your Knowledge Base
Knowledge remains one of the most important resources that you can possess as a nurse. Expanding your knowledge base means that you will be in a better position to improve the lives of your patients every day and provide better services. Furthermore, medical advancements and new infectious diseases are being discovered almost every year. Also, scientists are discovering new treatment methods and medications continually. As a nurse, it’s important to stay in touch with these advancements, so that you can give your patients the best and most recent treatment and care. And you can only acquire this information by continuing to educate yourself. Continuing your nursing education will help you to determine the information that is currently applicable to your profession and what is no longer applicable. And as a result, you will be a better nurse than someone who is only relying on what they learned 20 years ago.
Boost Your Career Opportunities
If you are a nurse who has already obtained a master’s in nursing degree (MSN), you have more opportunities at your disposal, compared to someone who only has a diploma. For instance, you can transfer from a healthcare facility to other fields such as research, where you will have more freedom to do your job. Also, acquiring a higher nursing degree can also open up opportunities in specialty areas like oncology, or pediatrics. Apart from job flexibility, greater opportunities also come with a significant pay rise. In short, there is more to nursing than just working in healthcare facilities. Therefore, you just need to step out of your comfort zone as a nurse and continue to further your education.
Provide Reliable Information
Your patients and your colleagues will ask you questions constantly. As a healthcare provider, it’s important for you to provide accurate and reliable answers to such questions. For example, if you did your nursing certification ten years ago, it’s not easy to remember everything that you learned in class then. And some of those things might be vital to your profession. Besides that, regulatory requirements and standards are updated regularly. Therefore, it’s important for all nurses to be fully conversant with such changes. Furthermore, it’s in your best interest to know how such regulations and standards might affect your nursing career.
Boost Your Social Skills
The world is now a global village, thanks to increased digital connectivity. And as a nurse, it doesn’t mean that you will always work in your local healthcare facility. Also, life is quite unpredictable, which means you might find yourself offering services in another community with a different culture than what you are used to. Going back to school to further your education, will give you a chance to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. And as you interact with them, you will get an opportunity to improve your social skills. Therefore, if you happen to be posted in another area, you will find it easier to cope with the new environment, as opposed to someone who has never stepped outside their community.
Securing Your Future
As much as the healthcare industry is quite healthy, it doesn’t mean that nurses are immune to layoffs. In fact, Alberta Health Services recently announced they are planning to lay off at least 750 registered nurses (RN) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPN). You might be wondering what this has to do with your education. Well, if an institution has to lay off some people, there is a high chance that they will start with those in the lower cadres such as those with a diploma before they turn their attention to those who have a nursing degree. Therefore, if you had already stepped up from a diploma to a degree, you will be safer when it’s time for layoffs, compared to an individual who never made any efforts to continue their nursing education.
As much as you might be completely satisfied with your lifestyle and your job, you should not stop educating yourself. The nursing profession is constantly changing, which means that you also need to improve your skills continuously, through lifelong learning. Furthermore, the job market is increasingly becoming competitive. While you might have to make a few sacrifices, continuing your education can increase your income, enhance your qualifications, boost your confidence, secure your future, widen your social network and improve your personal discipline, among other benefits. Whether you are a seasoned nurse or you’ve just landed your first job, learning should be a lifelong process.