Continuing Education for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN

Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN

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Advance practice nurses have either a master’s degree, a post master’s certificate, or a doctorate in nursing which is practice focused in one of four specialty areas. These specialties are Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Anesthetists. Most states consider the APRN license as a separate entity from the RN license. License renewal for APRNs is also subject to state board of nursing rules and varies by state.

To simplify matters however, many states have combined the APRN renewal date with the renewal date of the RN licensure. In most states, the continuing education requirements are the same for RNs and APRNs. Many states also impose a minimum number of hours of practice during the renewal periods for APRNs. And some states have extended the usual renewal time frame from every 2-3 years for RNs to 5-year renewal periods for APRNs. It is the responsibility of the nurse at any level to know the requirements and to abide by those rules in order to renew licenses in a timely fashion.

The International Council of Nurses defines APRNs as a “registered nurse with the expert knowledge, complex decision-making skills, and clinical competencies necessary for expanded practice.” The healthcare system relies heavily on advance practice nurses to fill the gap in the shortage of physicians as primary care or specialty healthcare providers. In many states, APRNs can prescribe medications and often work independently without physician oversight or supervision. This is extremely helpful in rural communities. This is not a new concept. Nurses have been filling this gap for centuries but having an advanced degree in specific nursing practice is an improvement in the concept. 

Continuing Education Goals 

Continuing education for all nurses is a vital part of nursing practice. It is a well-known fact that nurses never learn everything they’ll need to know in nursing school. On-the-job training is a standard part of the first 2-3 years of a nurse’s career. It’s a very challenging time especially for those who thought their education ended when they passed the NCLEX. The truth is nursing is a lifelong education process. Medicine and healthcare are not exact sciences. New theories, medication, treatments and practices are always on the horizon. Keeping up with the changes is essential. 

Take for example the current COVID19 crisis. There have been many snake oil devices, treatments and theories that even in a short time have been proven ineffective and even harmful. The rush to develop and test a “warp-speed” vaccine has many worried that it might not be as effective as will be needed in order to return to a safe level of “normal.” Treatments such as hydroxychloroquine seemed to have some value at first, and then have proved to be deadly in some cases. Education and information are an essential part of battling and ending the pandemic. 

Setting the Bar High

On a “normal” day-to-day level of nursing in a non-pandemic world, continuing education provides the education and information needed to help nurses impart the best practices and expect improved outcomes for their patients. Nurses are the primary source for patient education and therefore need to be up on the latest diagnostics, treatments, cures and prevention methods available. For advance practice nurses, this is naturally even more true. Nurses are the most trusted and respected professionals and need to have high standards for their practice. 

To fill the needs for continuing education for nurses, NursingCE.com is also developing a host of continuing education courses designed specifically to meet the needs of the APRN community. Some of the courses currently available include studies of osteoporosisseizures and epilepsytickborne diseases, and psychotic disorders. There are a host of other courses soon to be added which include subjects such as marijuana and CBD, pediatric fevers and Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, any of the CE courses on NursingCE.com are available for APRNs as well. Again, make note of specific requirements by state. There are also a number of courses specific to a state for annual requirements such as HIV and AIDS, prevention of medication errors, workplace violence, domestic abuse and human trafficking.

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