If you’re a nurse who’s in the planning stage of completing their CEU (continuing education unit) requirements, you’re in the right place. Not only will you find some common-sense tips below, but you may also find a couple of recommendations that you hadn’t considered before. Even if your state doesn’t require you to complete CEUs, your employer probably does; it’s standard in most healthcare facilities. That being the case, it’s important to know what you’re doing before you actually start taking classes.
For example, some nurses only take classroom-based courses, when they also have the option to take online CEU courses from sites like NursingCECentral.com. Not only is it more convenient, but it’s also usually cheaper. If you’re wondering whether you could optimize your approach to nursing CEUs, just keep reading!
Use CEUs for more than just fulfilling requirements
While it’s true that CEUs are necessary whether or not you care about the topics you’re studying, why treat them as just a means to an end? This is a mistake that some nurses make, and it’s easy to understand why. CEUs are generally crammed into a schedule that’s already packed, so one of two things may end up happening:
- Nurses wait until the last minute to sign up for the required courses, and then pick from whatever is available. This technically fulfills their state’s CEU requirements, but it can also provide them with irrelevant course material.
- Nurses go for the easy courses, rather than the most relevant ones. This definitely creates less conflict with a crazy work schedule, but it also means that they aren’t taking full advantage of what CEUs have to offer.
Aside from the fact that nurses can learn plenty of helpful information from CEUs, these courses can go beyond just that. They can also serve to advance a nurse’s career by making them more eligible for advancement, or by bolstering their skills in a chosen specialization.
Let’s assume that you’re already motivated to finish up your CEUs well ahead of the deadline, so you don’t risk something going wrong and jeopardizing your license renewal – so far so good. Beyond that, though, there are a couple of advantages to planning way ahead for the courses you’ll be taking.
- Multiple studies have shown that cramming is a far less effective study method than steady, reasonably paced learning. Completing the CEUs is all that’s needed to ensure your license renewal, but you put in a lot of work – don’t you want to remember what you just spent all those hours studying? If you take CEU courses one at a time, instead of doing everything at the end of the license renewal period, you’ll have a much better chance of truly absorbing the information.
- As mentioned above, waiting until the last minute to enroll in CEU courses isn’t the best game plan. Since this is what so many other nurses do, everyone ends up competing for a limited number of CEU courses. Nurses who specialize in oncology may end up taking a course on urology, or something else that they’ll never be able to use. These courses will still serve the purpose of fulfilling state requirements, but that’s about all they’ll do.
Don’t limit yourself to a single course format
It may feel easier to just go with what’s familiar, but that isn’t always the best way. If you’ve already found some CEU course providers that work well with your schedule and learning style, then you probably won’t need this advice. But if the CEU courses you’ve been taking have never seemed like a good fit, maybe it’s time for you to consider other options.
For example, perhaps you’ve been sticking with classroom-based courses until now – and they’re always a struggle to complete. Classes that meet at a set time each week aren’t necessarily easy to accommodate, given how unpredictable a nurse’s work schedule can be. Then there’s the fact that some people simply don’t learn best in a classroom environment, which could be another hindrance to the learning process.
The good news is that there are several other options, such as seminars, conferences, certification courses, and online courses. Not only could they be a better match for your learning style, but having a more personalized approach to CEUs could keep you motivated throughout the process.
Online courses could be a particularly good fit for nurses completing their CEU requirements. They don’t involve scheduled classes, and there are usually fewer deadlines as well. Of course, that could be a drawback for someone who isn’t familiar with certain technologies, or for someone who tends to procrastinate. Even so, online CEU courses should definitely be considered by any nurse who’s interested in exploring their options.
Follow your state’s CEU requirements to the letter
You already know why nurses have to complete CEUs – it’s so that the state board of nursing will renew their nursing licenses, which will allow them to keep practicing as registered nurses. As such, there’s quite a lot riding on them completing their CEUs correctly.
What’s the practical application here? When in doubt, consult the state board of nursing. They’ll tell you when the deadline is, how often you have to complete CEUs, how many of them you’ll need, and more. Plus, the state board of nursing (or the ANCC) is in charge of accrediting CEU courses; without their approval, you’d just be taking a continuing education class for your own edification. With some courses, it’s easy to establish whether or not they’re CEUs; with others, you may have to double-check on their accreditation status. In any case, remember that “close enough” doesn’t apply here. You’ll be expected to jump through all the hoops, so it’s best to plan on doing that from the beginning.
Fulfilling CEU requirements takes a lot of work, but you may be able to make the process smoother with the right strategies. Plan your approach carefully and be intentional about which courses you take – before you know it, you’ll have successfully completed your required CEU courses.