Never Stop Learning: Continuing Education for Nurses

NursingJuly 27, 2022

Once you’ve obtained your nursing degree, you’re ready for the work world. But that doesn’t mean the learning stops. Most states require continuing education (CE) every two to three years for nurses to maintain their license. Even if New York doesn’t require particular CE, your workplace might, and specialty areas such as critical care or neonatal have their own requirements. 

In New York, the state requires nurses to complete CE on infection control and identifying and reporting child abuse, but it’s important to check with your workplace for its requirements. There are many elective courses you can take to bolster your education, including classes on charting, pediatric respiratory infections, diabetes, heart health and more. 

A couple other acronyms to be aware of: CNE and CEU. CNE means Continuing Nursing Education. These are courses designed specifically for nurses. CEU means Continuing Education Units (or Credits). One CEU credit is the equivalent of 10 contact hours—or 10 hours of instruction.     

Why is Continuing Education Important?

Staying current in nursing means learning the latest developments in your field to best care for your patients. CE helps you do that. Besides the state-required CE coursework, you may be able to decide on the other topics, depending on what your workplace wants. The CE you choose will depend on the type of nursing you do and your career goals. You can find CE opportunities through nursing schools, professional associations, and possibly your own workplace.  

How to Make Room for It

CE courses usually need to be taken within a specific window as defined by the state. But it can usually be taken through many different formats, including attending conferences, in-person classes, online classes, self-study, and webinars—which gives you flexibility. The fastest way may be an online self-paced course. 

If you need to take courses required by a professional association to maintain your certification, that’s usually separate from the state board CE requirement. That might also mean a peer review process to approve the coursework. Ask the association what’s required. 

Who Pays for it? 

CE courses range from free to several hundred dollars. Your employer may pay for your CE, share the cost with you, or reimburse you. Your hospital may actually be a CE provider and offer it to you for free. If your employer doesn’t cover costs, you may be able to pay for it with a nursing scholarship. Make sure the CEUs you take are accredited or approved. They should be accredited by a known organization like the American Nurses Credentialing Center. 

If you’re interested in nursing as a career, visit St. Paul’s School of Nursing program page or call (855) 822-3018 to speak to one of our admissions representatives or to schedule a campus tour. St. Paul’s has campuses in Queens and Staten Island.