If you’re a nursing school student, or enrolled in an online nursing program, continuing education and career advancement may be the last things on your mind. To be sure, you probably already have your hands full, learning all the new material being thrown at you and keeping up with papers, clinical rotations, and everything else.
But once you have obtained your nursing education, passed your certification exams, and begun your career in nursing, whatever shape that may take, it will be time to think about furthering your education. And that time will come sooner than you may think. Although you’ll be learning something new just about every day on the job, you’re also going to be required to keep up with formal requirements for continuing education.
Some education opportunities may be voluntary and optional; others will be necessary just to stay current in you job. Some further education is undertaken by nurses who wish to advance in their careers, switch specialties, or obtain advanced degrees, such as RN to BSN. So what about seminars and conferences? Are they a worthwhile use of your time?
Whether it’s a one-day or multi-day event, a nursing seminar or conference can be a worthwhile investment in your career. Topics range from hands-on demonstrations of new techniques in an interactive setting, to seminars focused on developing leadership skills. Benefits of attendance are numerous.
Continuing Education for Self-edification
Obtaining continuing education and acquiring new skills are the point of most nursing conferences and seminars. Conference attendance can be a good way to gain exposure to any number of new medical devices, procedures, ideas, technologies, etc. Conferences can serve as a one-stop shop of sorts for experienced nurses who are interested in staying current and gaining new hands-on skills.
When it comes time to take your career to the next—or at least a different—level, it can be helpful to include your conference attendance record on your résumé. Conference attendance and continuing education (CE) credits indicate that you’re interested in your profession, invested in your career, and willing and able to stay up-to-date. These obvious signs of dedication to your career can make all the difference when prospective employers are evaluating piles of applications for new positions.
Of course, seminars and conferences are also great opportunities for networking. Make new friends, develop new contacts, share questions, concerns and ideas—it’s all easier to accomplish when you step out of your individual workplace bubble and interact with other like-minded professionals. Nursing can be a difficult and demanding profession, and few of your non-nursing friends or family members are likely to truly grasp what it’s all about as readily as a fellow nursing professional. Sometimes, just having the opportunity to interact with strangers who know what you’re going through can be refreshing. It might even help put any problems you’ve been struggling with in perspective.
Continuing Education Units
In some localities, nurses are required by law to obtain continuing education units (CEU) according to a pre-determined schedule, in order to keep their license to practice active. Check ahead of time to see if a seminar you’re considering fulfills one or more of these requirements. And remember that in any event, any effort you make to stay informed and educated will serve you and your career.