How to Optimize Your Approach to Nursing CEUs

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How to Optimize Your Approach to Nursing CEUs

Continuing education units, or CEUs, are an important part of any nurse’s education. They may not be required to earn a nursing license, but they are necessary in order to renew the license. This being the case, CEUs are a reoccurring obligation for most nurses. However, some don’t realize just how many options they have, or what they could be doing to ease the workload. With CEUs being completed in tandem with a typically busy schedule, it pays to be able to streamline the process.

For example, some nurses could be spending all kinds of time finding accredited courses in their area, when they could easily find state-specific, accredited CEU courses on sites like Nursing CE Central. This is just one of many ways to make the learning process easier; keep reading to learn more!

Pay attention to state board of nursing requirements

It’s pretty simple to establish which types of courses get accredited as CEUs – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those courses will be accredited. However, unless you do your homework beforehand, you might end up spending time and money on a course that doesn’t actually count towards your CEU requirements. 

To prevent this from happening, always start by asking a course provider if they have a provider ID from either the state board of nursing, or the ANCC. If they can give you that information, you’re good to go. If not, it’s time to look elsewhere for the courses you need.

This advice also applies to the subjects you’re studying. Some states ask nurses to devote a few contact hours to specific topics, such as ethics or substance abuse. If you were taking CEUs for the first time and didn’t have this information, you could end up taking classes you didn’t need, or even fail to comply with CEU requirements because of an honest mistake. 

Consider both local and online options

Some nurses already know where to find the best CEU courses, while others put together a unique list for each license renewal period. If you’re the kind of person who likes to explore their options, looking online for CEU courses might be a good way to branch out. Even so, these courses aren’t necessarily the best choice for everyone. Let’s get into the pros and cons of both options:

  • Online CEU course pros
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Flexibility is probably the greatest advantage with online CEU courses. A nurse’s schedule is usually both busy and unpredictable, but an online class could accommodate even the craziest work schedule. There are also many free courses available online, which is perfect for anyone on a budget. Speaking of which, regardless of how much you’re paying in tuition fees, the cost of transportation will automatically drop to zero with online courses.

  • Online CEU course cons

Most online courses involve the use of teaching platforms or other technologies, which may not be ideal for some nurses. If they’re having to learn how to navigate these platforms, this could interfere with how they learn the material. Plus, the self-paced nature of many online CEU courses could spell trouble for those who tend to procrastinate.

  • Classroom CEU course pros

For some people, the ability to communicate with classmates and teachers is key; without that, they feel disconnected from the course. Classroom-based courses also have a distinct structure in most cases, so this can keep procrastination-prone students on track.

  • Classroom CEU course cons

Their structure can be an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage. If a nurse has to leave work during the day to attend class, staying consistent could be difficult. Also, any classes would have to be within reasonable driving distance; this can limit options for those in less populated areas.

Plan way ahead

Aside from the fact that this will definitely keep you from missing the renewal period deadline – which is a deadline that should definitely not be missed – there are a couple of other reasons why planning ahead works to your advantage.

  • A scenario that many nurses find themselves in is when the license renewal deadline is coming up, and they have to quickly find whichever CEU courses are available in order to ensure compliance. This approach may technically get the job done, but it’s just barely adequate compared to what it could be. Ideally, you’d be periodically enrolling in the CEU courses you actually wanted, rather than the ones that would let you finish in time. Continuing education is a tool that can have a positive impact on your nursing career, but only if you’re careful to choose the right courses. And if you’re planning ahead, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.
  • If you want to truly leverage the potential of your CEU courses, you need to give yourself time to absorb all the material. But if you’re cramming multiple courses at the eleventh hour, you’ll probably forget most of it within a few months. If you can pace yourself and take one course at a time, however, that information is more likely to stick with you for the long term.
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Use CEUs for all they’re worth

It’s obvious why nurses would view CEUs as primarily the required coursework for keeping their licenses current, but CEUs can be so much more than that. Viewed as a continuing education opportunity, they can be used to earn certifications or develop areas of specialization. What impact could this have? For one thing, it can increase a nurse’s motivation and passion for their job, which would increase the quality of care that they provide to their patients. For another, it could make them eligible for pay raises, promotions, or even better jobs at other organizations. There’s a lot of potential in CEUs, but you have to be intentional about how you use them.

The takeaway

Completing CEUs isn’t an easy task by any means, but it can be made easier with a few helpful strategies. Given the right approach you can conquer CEU requirements like a pro, and drive your career forward at the same time.