NEW YORK NURSE: March 2009
Do you want to maintain cutting-edge nursing skills, develop a new area of expertise, or just show your employer that you take your practice seriously?
Earning continuing education (CE) credits does all of that and more. “For patient safety, we are obligated to keep current by continuing our education once we’ve received licensure,” says Roni Cummings, associate director of NYSNA’s Education, Practice & Research Program. “But there are many professional benefits as well.”
Some states make continuing education mandatory for nurses, usually between 24 and 30 contact hours every two years. In New York State, RNs are required only to complete three contact hours in infection control every four years and two contact hours in child abuse identification at the time of initial licensure.
Even though additional hours aren’t necessary to maintain licensure in New York, CE is still a smart idea. “RNs who don’t want to be left behind know the value of earning contact hours,” said Roni Cummings. “For example, if you are interested in shifting your practice to a new field, getting plenty of CE on the subject can help you get the position you want.”
Continuing education can be important to nurses who are returning to the field after many years. “Techniques that impact patient safety can change quite a bit over time,” says Cummings. “CE can help nurses stay up to date in best practices and can boost their confidence about coming back to nursing.”
When choosing a course, pay attention to the source. Just as hospitals are accredited to provide care, providers of nursing continuing education should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). RNs can be assured that the information being taught is current, reliable, and accurate.
NYSNA is accredited as a CE provider by the ANCC, the largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization in the world. A subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, the ANCC also sponsors the Magnet Recognition Program, which recognizes hospitals for quality nursing care.
As an ANCC-accredited provider, NYSNA is audited periodically for adherence to national standards. NYSNA also is certified by the ANCC to approve CE offerings by other organizations – a list of approved courses appears in every issue of New York Nurse.
Just a few years ago, nurses earned most of their contact hours in classroom settings. With nearly 75% of U.S. households now having access to the Internet, distance learning has come into its own. Many websites offer CE for nurses – but accreditation is still a key factor.
The only site where courses have been approved by the New York State Nurses Association is eLeaRN™, (www.elearnonline.net), which currently offers dozens courses at reasonable rates. And you get a 15% discount if you’re a NYSNA member! And there continue to be opportunities to earn contact hours in a more traditional way. It’s possible to take in multiple education offerings during the NYSNA Annual Convention, which will be held this year on Oct. 8-11 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
NYSNA’s Economic & General Welfare (EGW) Program offers a wide range of courses for bargaining unit members, many of them right where members work. See the list of upcoming workshops on page 17.