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Learn All About It: Continuing Education for Nurses

Learn All About It: Continuing Education for Nurses

Manage Your CEUs

By Peter Vogt, MonsterTRAK Career Coach

If you’re like most healthcare professionals, you’ll want to renew the licenses and certifications you worked so hard to attain. That typically means completing a certain number of continuing-education units (CEUs) every year or two (or three or four or five, depending on the requirements of the licensure and certification bodies in your state and profession).

If only fulfilling your CEU requirements were as easy to do, as it is to say.

When you’ve completed several years of postsecondary education, you’re pressed for time and energy, and when your wallet might not be as cash-heavy as you’d like, it can be difficult to find a place for continuing education in your life. Add in the widespread procrastination factor – “I’ve got five years to get all this stuff done. What’s the rush?” – and you’ve got a recipe for CEU paralysis.

Fortunately, you can adopt a few simple strategies to effectively manage your CEU activities, and even enjoy them along the way.

Divide and Conquer

Remember the stress you felt in college when you had to write that 15-page paper overnight even though you’d been given four months to finish it? Multiply that anxiety by 10 and you’ll get a sense of what it must be like to have had, say, three years to complete your CEU requirements – and to have little or nothing to show for it at the two-and-a-half-year mark.

As is the case with most major tasks, you’ll reduce the pressure you feel and perform better if you take a methodical, piece-by-piece approach to completing your CEUs. Suppose your state licensing board requires you to complete 25 hours of CEUs every two years. Twenty-five hours over two years is 12.5 hours per year, and 12.5 hours per year breaks down to roughly one hour per month. If you can devote about a half-day (and a little money and energy) each month to continuing-education activities, you’ll more than meet your CEU requirements by the end of two years.

Carefully Explore Your Options

You may be aware of only a fraction of the continuing-education opportunities you could pursue. Be sure to explore your options thoroughly.

Talk to colleagues to find out what continuing-education activities they’ve found most useful. Read your professional publications closely, particularly the advertisements and the “upcoming events” sections, to get ideas about options on the horizon. Contact your own professional organizations to see what conferences, seminars and courses they will be offering in the coming months. Sign up to receive continuing-education catalogs from nearby colleges and universities that offer classes related to your field or specialty.

Mix Things Up

You’re far more likely to be motivated in your CEU activities if you’re participating in educational programs that actually interest you.

Invest a little time and energy in activities that are a bit off the beaten path for you. If there’s a certain technique, procedure, approach or issue that has always intrigued you, earn some CEUs while you learn more about it.

Try to mix up the learning methods you use. Your options are no longer limited to in-person seminars or classes, or read-and-test correspondence courses. What are the online or distance-education options for obtaining CEUs in your discipline? You can find out by contacting professional organizations or your alma mater, or using an online resource like MonsterLearning.

Just be sure that any online or distance-ed course you take will count toward your CEU total for your particular licensure or certification body. If you’re not sure, ask beforehand and get the answers in writing.

Continuing education doesn’t have to be a useless hassle. Indeed, it can be the fulfilling learning experience the licensing and certification bodies intend it to be — if you’re willing to plan and persist as you pursue your CEUs.

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