Nursing continuing education is necessary to meet the public standards for a qualified, highly skilled workforce. The fundamental goal for education has always been to provide an intricate learning process that enhances verbal and written communication. This is exemplified in nursing education, as the adult learner evolves from baseline levels of learning to a nurse who has mastered the medical language and developed nursing skills.
The Societal Need for Continuing Education
As the needs of employers changed, the motivations of employees changed as well. Employees realized that acquiring new skills increased employability, mobility, and promotion. In addition, there was a public need and sense of urgency for knowledge acquisition in healthcare. These motivations resonate with the contemporary needs and interests of adult learners. Out of this mutual interest in continuing education of the employee and employer emerged “…efforts to bring employers and workers together in continuing education, learning in the workplace, and putative forms of vocational education and training” (Hake, 2010).
Nurses are leaders, and as such, they must maintain a consistent pattern of advanced learning through nursing continuing education. A nurse who scaffolds knowledge through continuing education, such as courses offered at FastCEForLess.com, and enhances their skills through work experience is better prepared to care for patients. These nurses exhibit higher levels of competency in technical and nontechnical skills, knowledge of various disease processes, and overall work performance. They also are more likely to have advancement in employment and higher-earning wages.
Employers also want to have nurses with advanced knowledge. The benefits for the employer who invests in continuing education for nurses include having nurses that are highly skilled, increased nurse retention, and the reputation of the employer being magnified in a positive manner.
Core Principles of Adult Learning
For nurses to learn effectively, training must be designed in a way that meets the following core principles of adult learning:
Adults are autonomous and self-directing, meaning that they live under a large degree of self-governance and to their own laws, beliefs, and values.
They need to know the benefits, values, and purposes of a learning program. They need to know why they are learning what they’re learning. If they cannot appreciate the purpose or value, they will be reluctant to engage in the learning intervention.
Learn by Doing
Adults learn through direct experience. Therefore, their training and learning interventions must include active and practical participation and offer implementable techniques and methodologies that will immediately improve their everyday lives.
The content of a training program must be meaningful and relevant to the nurse/adult learners, their lives, and their business. They must very clearly see why and how this is important to them personally and how it applies to their life.
The immediate use of the learning needs to be clearly understood by the learner. If they can’t see how they personally can apply the learning to their own life and roles, it is suggested that motivation towards the training intervention will be significantly reduced.
Adult learners need to be able to draw upon their past experiences to aid their learning. Training needs to be contextualized to use language with which they are familiar.
All the Senses
Adult learners need multi-sensory learning and teaching methodologies. The learning interventions should be appropriately proportioned with delivery techniques that meet the needs of audio, visual, reading/writing, and kinesthetic preferences.
Adult learners are often engaged in learning because a problem needs to be solved. Practicing skills in a controlled environment allows them to grow self-efficacy in new tasks that prepare them to act autonomously outside of the learning environment. The more an adult learner can practice new skills, competencies or the application of knowledge, the more transformational impact the learning intervention will have.
The intrinsic, personal desires and ambitions of an adult learner need to be considered when planning and delivering adult learning programs. As learners get older, their cause for participation in learning programs often moves from external drivers (such as getting a promotion) to internal drivers, like simply learning out of pure pleasure or interest in learning something new.
Effective adult learning programs have been planned for learner feedback and consultation. Adults need to feel as though they have a sense of responsibility, control, and decision-making over their learning. They need to be involved in the planning, evaluation, and consultation of their own learning process to be fully on board with its successful execution.
In terms of education, this requires the flexibility of the learning situation, the learning program, and most importantly, the educator to actively involve the participant in a way that allows them to have a degree of control over what they do, or, in fact, how much they learn. (Cordiner, 2021)
Every nurse should be mindful that healthcare is continuously evolving. “Providing high quality patient care is the goal of the professional nurse. Therefore, the nurse must regularly keep up with new techniques and technologies and expand their knowledge and skills” (Health Management, 2017)
Nursing continuing education courses, whether taken online at www.fastceforless.com or in a classroom setting are designed to engage the nurse in all or part of the eight core principles of the adult learner. The courses are designed to provide a specific number of continuing education hours to meet the objectives of each course. As the nurse progresses through each step of the learning process, they scaffold their learning by using previous experiences as building blocks to learn new information. The overall goals of nursing continuing education courses are to enable the nurse to learn something new.
Although the basic thread of knowledge regarding patient care is consistent throughout healthcare, every area in nursing has its own specific core knowledge requirements needed to be an effective nurse, and each requires that a nurse obtain knowledge beyond nursing school, hence the importance of nursing continuing education.