The Advantages of Continuing Education for Nurses

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC - 03/12/19

For most nurses, continuing education is an important requirement of nursing license renewal. Continuing ed can be perceived as a bothersome chore to dispense with in the easiest and cheapest way possible; however, it isn't just about getting those CE credits – it can also be about learning, growing, and developing as a nurse, no matter your workplace milieu.

Continual Education is Key

We may call it “continuing education” but I like to call it “continual education”. From that perspective, we acknowledge that nurses not only need CE credits, but they also need to increase their knowledge, learn new skills, and keep abreast of research and news in the world of healthcare of which they’re an intrinsic part.

While some nurses may only take easy online CEs that can be completed by barely even reading the article accompanying the requisite quiz, others may actually seek out CE courses that are interesting, intriguing, or otherwise offer a compelling reason to absorb something meaningful for their professional development. Online CE platforms like can be extremely helpful and convenient when you find courses most suited to your needs.

For those who want to learn something outside of their normal ken, seeking out CE courses focused on unfamiliar territory can make the entire enterprise seem more worthwhile. For example, a dedicated ICU nurse might choose to register for holistic courses that offer her insight into unknown areas of integrative healthcare. A course in color healing, music therapy at the end of life, or motivational interviewing might give this ICU nurse new food for thought beyond her usual comfort zone.

Similarly, a practicing holistic nurse who rarely interfaces with mainstream allopathic medicine might register for CE courses on electrolyte imbalance, cardiac physiology, or ECG interpretation as a means of relearning aspects of human physiology and traditional nursing care.

No matter how you slice it, learning throughout your nursing career is prudent, as well as a good reason to instill new knowledge in your very own nurse’s brain.

Conferences, Seminars, and Webinars – Oh My!

Aside from online CE courses, other opportunities for nursing-related learning come in the form of conferences, seminars, and webinars. These are all extremely viable forms of continuing education, although live conferences and seminars obviously can’t be accomplished sitting in front of your home computer, wearing pajamas and sipping coffee.

Attending a conference involves commitment: you need to travel to your destination, book a hotel, find food, face meeting new people, and navigate the social aspects of the event. Some nurses are lucky that their employers pay for them to travel for out-of-state conferences, and more could likely take advantage of such an opportunity for professional growth.

Conferences are a wonderful venue for networking with like-minded people, learning new concepts or skills, and building your knowledge base. They’re are also a way to earn large amounts of CE credits in one fell swoop – there’s nothing like leaving a weekend nursing conference with 10, 15, or more CEs under your belt.

Seminars are likely to be one-day learning events in your local area, sometimes offered in hotel conference centers. In this context, you don’t earn as many CEs as a three-day conference, but you can still accumulate some credits without the need to travel far.

Webinars are also a means to earn CE credits and learn something new from the comfort of your home or workplace. Some webinars are only offered one time as a live event, but many feature “playback” sessions where you can watch the presentation, take the test, and still earn your credits.

Learn and Earn 

In the end, most nurses likely earn CEs from web-based platforms like – this is the most convenient way to get your CE credit and is most convenient when done according to your personal schedule.

Learning new information and earning continuing education credits is mandatory for most boards of nursing here in the United States. Unless your area of specialty practice requires that you complete certain types of courses, the sky’s the limit and you can earn CEs relating to anything approved by a governing body overseeing continuing nursing education. From spiritual counseling and healing with essential oils to infection control and renal therapies, it’s yours for the taking.

Earn your CE credits by taking courses that speak to you and the knowledge you seek to accumulate. Your time and your nursing license are precious, so choose CE opportunities that will move the needle for you in terms of your career and professional development as a nursing professional.