Continuing Education Options for Nurses

Many graduates of nursing programs leave school and enter the work force only to realize that continuing education is not only a good idea to remain at the forefront of the field, but in most states is also a requirement to renew a nursing license. Options in the field can range from continuing education required to remain licensed, to advanced practice nursing degrees that further career opportunities, such as a Master’s of Science in Nursing or Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

Required continuing education can consist of a variety of options, from attending lectures or talks to participating in events or attending conferences. Classes, both online and on campus are also available at any nursing school. Requirements vary by state, and the number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) can range from 5-30 or more in a period of one to three years. These educational requirements ensure that nurses keep their skills sharp, keep up with technological advances in the field, and learn new methods of performing job responsibilities. Once CEUs are completed, the accredited paperwork must be submitted to the state’s nursing licensure governing body, before or at the time of license renewal.

For nurses interested in expanding career opportunities in the nursing field and returning to school for an advanced degree, there are also many options. To become an LPN or RN, an associate’s degree is required. Those with associate’s degrees can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, or enroll in an LPN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN accelerated nursing program through a campus-based or online nursing school to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

With an MSN, along with specialized training in the desired field, one can become an advanced practice nurse. Opportunities at this level include: nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse midwife, and certified nurse anesthetist. Another plus to obtaining a MSN is that nurses can specialize in an area of nursing, such as psychiatric care, mental health, geriatrics, etc.

Doctorate degrees are also available for those who are interested, and do not necessarily need to be in nursing. Career opportunities that are available with a doctorate in philosophy, education, science, or nursing science include those in the nursing research and nursing education realms. Also available are doctor of nursing practice and doctor of nurse anesthesia practice degrees that are beneficial for a nurse who desires to own an autonomous practice, hold an advanced clinical role, or become an administrative leader.

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