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Continuing Education For Nurses

Continuing Education for Nurses


Continuing Education – an ongoing Nursing Requirement


Registered nurses in many states are required to engage in a certain amount of continuing education in order to gain recertification of their nursing license.  In California, a registered nurse must renew the license every two years and must have taken thirty contact hours in a course relevant to the practice of nursing.  One semester credit equals fifteen contact hours – so the requirement seems to amount to one college class per two year licensure period.  That ratio may differ for distance learning or for technical institutions as opposed to community colleges or universities.  Again in California, the educational institution must be recognized by the Board of Registered Nurses.



Varying Requirements for Continuing Nurses Education


 In Louisiana, there is an annual requirement for continuing education but it is a miniscule five contact hours per year.  In Michigan, the requirement is 25 contact hours every two years.  In North Carolina, thirty contact hours is required.  Every state has certain criteria that must be met for recertification of a nursing license and continuing education is almost always one of those requirements. 


The various State Boards of Nursing oversee the recertification requirements.  Schools must seek recognition as a qualified institution for providing accredited continuing education courses.  The State Boards also establish the criteria for re-establishing an active nursing license after a period of inactivity.  Nurses who wish to restore their credential to practice must go through a recertification process that usually has an education component and may include a reentry exam, depending on the period of time that the license has been inactive.


Continuing Education and Medical Technology


Aside from the recertification process, there are good reasons for registered nurses to be engaged in continuing education of one sort or another because of the constant developments in medical technology.  Nurses who are advanced clinical specialists are particularly sensitive to this issue as they are often primary care providers.  A nurse who specializes in gastroenterology, for example, is obligated to keep up with the latest scanning technology and the exams that are conducted with newly developed equipment.  Emergency nurses are increasingly called on to make decisions on treatment and must be able to utilize every piece of gear that is available to them in the treatment area.


Sometimes the technological application is relatively simple, but vital in the course of patient treatment.  For example, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were among the first hospitals in the United States to acquire a technology that allows nurses to electronically scan bar codes on medications at the patient's bedside before administration.


The new MedPoint system is designed to help prevent medical errors. While the hospitals have used bar code checks at the distribution point for pharmaceuticals for several years, the extension of the practice to the bedside is new.   Every staff nurse will need to learn how to operate and read a bar code scanner.  That is not a difficult assignment – supermarket checkers can do it – but it will minimize bedside medication mistakes which are much more common that anyone would wish to believe.

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