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How to Stay Current in Nursing

Posted on: January 21, 2020

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Whether it’s new technology impacting how nurses provide patient care, fluctuating methods of payment, or medications, changes in healthcare are inevitable. While many can become comfortable after working in a position for a few years and settle into how a routine for how tasks are always done, that’s not usually possible in nursing. Patient care techniques learned in nursing school, or healthcare technology used a few years ago, may no longer be relevant.

It can be challenging for nurses to keep up with advances in healthcare. With the variety of methods available to help nurses stay current in nursing topics, skills, and methods, it doesn’t have to be.

Keep Your Curiosity Alive

Nurses must be committed to lifelong learning in order to keep their nursing skills relevant and ensure readiness if a new employment opportunity presents itself. Curiosity may have led you to nursing school, or to explore different areas of nursing. That curiosity doesn’t have to be quelled once you’ve found a specialty you prefer, or even if you’ve been happy in the same position for a few years.

Take the time to review daily tasks with a fresh eye and question why some things are done the same way year after year. Consider if anything could be done differently instead of accepting the way tasks have always been done. You don’t have to look far to broaden your perspective and keep your nursing knowledge relevant. A few ways include:

  • Ask to shadow another nurse in an unfamiliar specialty to see if it stirs your interest.
  • If you find that there’s an area of nursing you’d like to focus on, consider getting your certification.
  • Volunteer to float to other nursing units for a change of pace and to prevent getting stuck in a rut.
  • Find a mentor, or become one to a new nurse, to broaden your professional network.
  • Learn while networking with other nurses by attending conferences, or by joining professional nursing organizations.

Most states require a specific number of continuing education units (CEUs) for nursing license renewal. Choose topics of interest, or ones outside of your usual day to keep your skills sharp, and to expand your knowledge. CEU options are available online, provided during in-person conferences, or in CEU booklets packaged to meet your state requirements.

Make it Convenient

No matter what topic you’re interested in, it’s easier than ever to keep up to date with nursing information. A quick online search can provide a variety of readily available journals, articles, healthcare blogs, and nursing news. Or use a search engine and identify specific topics of interest to search and set a time aside each day to review the latest news. Most avenues of social media offer endless options for nursing information—as long as you’re careful to vet the source to ensure accuracy. Many reputable nursing sources have several social media options to acquire relevant information, such as the American Journal of Nursing.

If you use different social media platforms in your personal life such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you may already know which ones you prefer and can follow nurse leaders, or experts in your nursing field. If you’re pressed for time, podcasts, webinars, or the use of nursing apps can allow you to expand your knowledge on your commute, or during your lunch break.

Try Out Travel Nursing

Perhaps you’re more of a hands-on learner, or you want to explore how different areas of the country, or other healthcare facilities, provide nursing care. Travel nursing could enable you to try out new technology, while expanding your knowledge, and employment options.

Although some key components about providing care may stay the same, rapid advances in technology have resulted in an evolving healthcare environment. If patient care methods never changed, then improvements in patient outcomes, and the nursing environment, never would’ve occurred. Keep your curiosity alive in your day to day nursing practice by asking curious questions, thinking outside of the box, and finding convenient ways to stay current with your nursing skills.

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN
About Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN

Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her work has appeared in numerous health system websites and healthcare journals. Her experience as a fiction author helps her craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com.