In 2010, The Institute of medicine of the National Academies published their recommendation for the field of nursing for the ensuing decade. Ongoing professional development and higher education for nursing that is relevant and accessible was one of these recommendations. This paper examines the different ways nurses can access continuing education and their perceptions of this training.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies published their comprehensive report on the future of nursing in 2010. The report cited several issues facing nursing and the medical field and the committee made several recommendations for the nursing field. The role of the nurse is changing as dramatically as the field of medicine has in the last few decades. The committee urges nurses to practice to the fullest extent of their training, to participate in ongoing training and higher education and “be a full partner along with physicians and other healthcare workers in redesigning healthcare in the United States” (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies 2010).
The committee states in their sixth recommendation that nurses should “engage in lifelong learning” (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies 2010). Research in medicine and health changes on a daily basis an in order for nurses to stay current in recent research and practices, they need to continue their education and seek out training opportunities. The committee charges the responsibility for training on nurses, health care organizations and institutions of higher learning. The recommendation is that healthcare organizations and universities foster continuing education, organize and execute the training programs (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies 2010). The responsibility to seek out continuing education is on the nurse in order to remain current with their practice and with state laws.
There are differences in perceptions of continuing training and education between nursing groups. Older nurses are more selective and can be resistant to training that they do not perceive as relevant to their practice (Poole, Poel and Cate 2012). Younger nurses tend to regard training opportunities and rate continuing their education in order to earn a higher degree as high priorities in their careers (Poole, Poel and Cate 2012). Regardless of the individual nurse’s motivations for training, the classes should be relevant and accessible.
There are many opportunities for nurses to participate in training. On-line development courses have become increasingly popular because of their flexibility which is critical in the nursing profession where scheduling can be chaotic. Nurses who are employed by organizations who value continuing education and require the development of continuing education plans report higher job satisfaction (Ousey and Roberts 2013). On line classes should be offered by universities and other accredited institutions and should also involve a supervisory component of a certified trainer (Ousey and Roberts 2013). This practice ensures that nurses are acquiring the new knowledge and applying it correctly in their practice. Nurses need to be selective in choosing their on line training classes; chosen classes should be in line with their current practice and challenge them (Ousey and Roberts 2013). On line classes are convenient but they need to be meaningful.
A more informal method of staying current in nursing practices are nursing journal clubs. Lachance (2014) conducted a thorough review of literature on the efficacy of nursing journal clubs. These informal gatherings are similar to book clubs except the members are all nurses who read nursing journal and meet on a regular basis to discuss current trends (Lachance 2014). Reading academic and professional journals will bring new information to light and help nurses stay current as well as facilitate the sharing of experiences in their own practices (Lachance 2014). Although this is an informal method it provides guidance to nurses and can help to guide the direction they may like to move in when choosing traditional development classes.
Continuing education in order to earn a higher degree is another road that nurses can take to continue their development and increase their knowledge. This is also in keeping with the recommendation that eighty percent of nurses have a baccalaureate degree by 2020 and doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate degree by 2020 (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies 2010). Universities are offering flexible classes and scheduling in order to attract students, many of whom are not traditional day time students but people who work. Nursing programs recognize that scheduling in the field of nursing occurs twenty four hours a day and offer classes throughout the day and evening including on line classes that can be accessed anywhere. Returning to school to pursue a higher career is challenging but highly rewarding for nurses: professionally, personally and financially.
Continuing education is changing to meet the needs of nurses and in keeping with new developments in the medical field. Academic based education has generally been the focus of nursing training but the focus needs to shift towards practice education (Yoder and Terhorst 2012). There needs to be an emphasis on the use of technology, using learner centered and collaborative methods and designing professional development that is based in best practices (Yoder and Terhorst 2012). Nurse educators and trainers are responsible for developing training according to these guidelines to ensure that nurses are receiving quality training that will benefit them professionally.
The Institute of Medicines recommendation that nurses continue to receive appropriate training and professional development benefits many people. Nurses will improve their skills and knowledge, the organizations they work for will have quality staff and patients will receive up to date and appropriate care. Continuing professional development improves the professionalism of nursing and leads to positive outcomes. Meaningful and relevant courses should be offered to the nursing community and nurses should be motivated to seek out appropriate training opportunities that are tailored to their needs and practice.
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