Pros And Cons Of Mandatory Continuing Nursing Education

Length: 10 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Nursing Paper: #83974577 Related Topics: Florence Nightingale, Critical Care Nursing, Lifelong Learning, Adult Education
Excerpt from :

Mandatory Continuing Nursing Education

There is a rapid expansion of techniques and knowledge in the field of health. Researchers James Morrison, James Kelly and Carl Lindsay have approximated that the half-life of knowledge gotten in school of medicine is about 5 years. Thus, in just 5 years 50% of what a physician learns in a medical school will be irrelevant. With such a huge increase in knowledge base, it is important that clinical professionals, such as nurses, dentists and physicians constantly update or enhance their skills. For nursing practitioners, constantly improving education is important for proper and effective nursing care. The quantity of knowledge / information required to care for patients who are critically ill can't be simply gained through experience in the ward or at the patient's bedside. The current stress on competency in healthcare means that experience alone is no longer enough. The current environment requires a constant emphasis for a nursing practitioner to constantly improve their education. Nursing practitioners have a legal and professional duty to update their skills and knowledge and to apply that knowledge at their workplace (Dickerson, 2010).

Pros and Cons of Continuing Nursing Education


Mandates Education: Health technology and nursing practices are always changing. Almost every other day there are new healthcare innovations, medical breakthroughs, and threats of emerging illnesses. For the purpose of keeping up with the new trends in the field of medicine, continuing education is important for a nursing practitioner. Competence will help a nursing practitioner keep abreast with the new trends. Patients will be poorly served if nurses weren't required to further their studies. Thus, it is rational that continuing education be required.

Enhances Patient Outcomes: Through continuing education either via clinical trials, videos, webinars, or reading journals, nursing practitioners are able to enhance patient outcomes, which is their ultimate objective.

It Shows Professionalism: As nursing practitioners, work is ever changing. Putting these changes to the best use can only be done through dedication to learning.

It Enhances Networking: By attending seminars or reviewing journals, nurses are able to interact with other healthcare professionals. This interaction improves their knowledge and experience, and through this, they are able to enhance, shape and guide their practice.


Cost: Continuing with education can be expensive. For example, it is expensive to pay for staff to attend a nursing conference or seminar and for them to be away from the patients' side. Moreover, subscribing to journals and purchasing teaching videos requires a lot of money. Finally, incorporating a change, either new innovation or a way of doing things, can be expensive, since it might require the purchase of new equipment or re-training of personnel.

Time: Incorporating a change requires a lot of time, as does continuing education. Continuing education means that nurses have to spend a lot of time away from patients to complete their credit hours, and in most cases, this is frowned upon.

Learning and education are always important. However, since one is learning through continuing education, this doesn't necessarily mean that there will be an improvement in practice. Some opponents of continuing education might opine that more knowledge/learning doesn't equate to better services/practices. Arguing the validity of continuing education credit hours taking a lot of time and is often intense. The pros and cons presented above are only examples of the kind of arguments that can be brought forth to debate the validity of continuing education. Without a doubt, continuing education can enhance patient outcomes. However, it is rational for one to challenge the idea that continuing learning in the field of nursing is a must for continued licensure (Ward, 2013).

Impact on Competency

As a nursing practitioner, one can only guarantee better patient outcomes through commitment to continuing education and the application of new knowledge and techniques gained through such education. Nurses who take care of critically ill patients ought to be competent to carry out tasks and make tough choices that could mean either life or death for the patients they are caring for (Krugman M., 2008). The demand for safe practice and competence forces individuals in the nursing profession to meet the goals of high quality...


It is obvious that nursing practitioners can't afford to continue practicing only with their basic education. Neither can they depend on obsolete policies gained from educators who insist on using outdated principles and "facts" from the twentieth century. Additionally, gaining experience at the patient's bedside on a day-to-day basis doesn't necessarily mean that a nurse is current. On the contrary, it has been revealed that incorporation of new knowledge into nursing practice can take as much as seventeen years in certain circumstances (Balas & Boren, 2000). The time taken in integrating new knowledge into practice is scary. Another argument that has been put forth to support continuing education is that continued learning has in fact been listed on a report by the Pew Commission as one of the twenty-one competencies for current health care professionals (Bellack & O'Neill, 2000). All nursing practitioners who have specialty certification ought to show evidence of participating or attending continuing education programs, if they want to renew their certifications/licensing. Therefore, continuing education is evidence of specialization in nursing practice (Skees J., 2010).

Impact on Knowledge and Attitudes

The IOM (Institute of medicine) in a 2010 report that reviewed available literature looked at the impact of continuing education on clinical outcomes. Even though there were challenges in assessing outcomes, the report revealed that continuing education can enhance clinical outcomes, change attitudes and behaviors, and improve knowledge base. Continuing education has also been proved to enhance the professional conduct of nurses and also to increase their knowledge in patient management and their overall nursing practice (Gallagher, 2006). According to Florence Nightingale, nurses should always learn constantly, not just through experience and observation, but also through seeking new evidence and knowledge (Nightingale, 1859). Florence had recognized that the then accepted way of nursing conduct was not the best and she worked hard to come up with new ways of creating better nursing environments. This is similar to the current situation. Commitment to continuing education is a professional duty that nurses have to fulfill in order to ensure enhanced patient outcomes (Witt, 2011).

Relationship to Professional Certification

States are turning to certification as an indicator of entry level competence as they control advanced nursing practice. Certification in such instances is thus not a voluntary procedure, however, it is composed of a regulatory requirement to guarantee public safety and enhance public health. As an outcome, certifying bodies are expected to show that their previous certification exams truly display entry level skills and that their recertification procedures display constant competence.

Ever since the late 1970's, the primary assumptions concerning the utilization of certification to guarantee competence and its inherent value have been increasingly questioned. There is a shortage of empirical data from nursing and other related fields that validate the predictive power of certification as well as recertification examinations that has resulted to the assertion that certification does not possess an impact on patient outcomes. Nonetheless, ANCC's (American Nurses Credentialing Centre's) Institute for Research, Education and Consultation (IREC) lately completed the initial phase of a 3-part certification research effort, which picks out various promising results associated with the patient outcomes. A study was conducted on a randomized sample of more than forty thousand certified nurses in Canada and the U.S. whereby nineteen thousand responded. Upon the completion of the study, the nurses compared their pre-certification and post certification practice. In the description of their post certification practice: fifty one percent revealed more confidence in their practice; thirty five percent reported more confidence in their decision making capabilities; twenty eight percent revealed greater confidence in their complication identification capabilities; twenty three percent revealed greater effective communication as well as cooperation with other healthcare practitioners; and six percent reported less adverse errors and events in patient management than prior to their certification. Ann Cary, a PHD registered nurse, the principal investigator of the survey, mentioned that the data from this survey is paramount to an initial comprehension of the nature of quality outcomes and patient safety factors, which might be optimized via certification (Trossman, 2000).

Relationship to ANA Scope and Standards of Practice

Various methods of ensuring competence have been discussed by ANA through its expert panel and recommendations made. Founded on the premise that the huge majority of the nation's 2.6 million registered nurses are practicing in a competent way, the Expert Panel, engaged during the year 1999, came up with the subsequent presuppositions related to "continuing competence:"

1. The aim of guaranteeing continuing competence is the protection of the public and improvement of the profession via the professional development of nurses.

1. The public possesses a right to anticipate competence throughout the careers of nurses.

1. Any procedure of competency assurance ought to be shaped and guided by the nursing profession.

1. Assurance of continuing competence is simply the shared responsibility of the regulatory bodies',…

Sources Used in Documents:


ANA. (2000). Continuing Competence: Nursing's Agenda for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C: American Nurses Association.

ANA. (2011). Provision 5 -- Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements. Retrieved from American Nurses Association:

Balas, E., & Boren, S. (2000). Managing Clinical Knowledge for Healthcare Improvements. Stuttgart, Germany: Schattauer Publishing.

Bellack, P., & O'Neill, E. (2000). Recreating nursing practice for a new century: recommendations and implications of the Pew Health Professions Commission's final report. Nurse Health Care Perspect, 21, 14-21.

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