When is the last time you completed CEU requirements – and how happy were you with how it went? Unless you’ve gotten the process totally dialed in, it might be helpful to consider a few tips to make your studies more efficient. The fact is that there’s a lot of information to keep track of when you’re taking CEU courses; if you’re complying with all the regulations set by the state board of nursing, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. That being said, why not try to fine-tune your approach to CEU courses? It could be as simple as taking online courses from a site like Nursing CE Central, where you can choose from state-specific courses rather than curating your own list. Whatever you decide to do, it’s always good to know that you have options.
Give yourself plenty of time
For many people, this is just a common-sense practice that happens to fall by the wayside. If you think of it as an actual strategy, though, its benefits might seem more desirable. After all, out of all the busy working professionals, nurses are among the busiest. Even if they don’t mean to delay the completion of CEUs, that’s often what happens by default. However, if they could see the advantages of starting early more clearly, maybe that would provide the extra motivation they needed to avoid procrastinating.
- There will be more classes available if they start enrolling early. Let’s say that a nurse lives in a state with a two-year license renewal period, which gives them plenty of time to complete the required 20 contact hours. At any given time during this two-year period, there are plenty of CEU courses available. However, once they start getting towards the end of the renewal period, more and more nurses will be enrolling for any and all available CEU courses. If our hypothetical nurse does the same, they’ll be competing with a lot more people, and can’t be sure of getting the classes they want. If they took courses intermittently throughout the renewal period, though, it would be much easier to pick and choose courses according to their preferences.
- They’ll retain more information. If cramming information to pass a test is the goal, then there’s not as much of a reason to spread out CEU courses. If a nurse wants to actually benefit from all those hours spent learning, they would be much better served by taking the courses one at a time.
Always confirm that the courses you’re considering are accredited
Where nursing CEUs are concerned, accreditation is everything. Without that, they’re just regular CE (continuing education) courses. You might still benefit from some of them, but they wouldn’t count towards your CEU requirements.
For a course to be accredited, it has to be approved by the ANCC or the state board of nursing. Speaking of which, each state’s board of nursing establishes its own list of approved courses and providers, so you’ll also need to make sure that the CEUs you’re taking are specifically approved for your state. Without this step, you might end up taking a course that wouldn’t apply towards your CEU requirements.
Put the “continuing education” in CEU
No matter what industry or sector you’re in, continuing education is probably relevant in one way or another. It could give someone a valuable certification, or help them hone an area of expertise. If the right continuing education courses are chosen, they can be used to move someone’s career in the desired direction. This could mean bonuses, promotions, pay raises, or job offers. Or, CE could simply be a means to prove that you’re a dedicated employee. Whichever way you look at it, continuing education can bring value to anyone who cares about their job.
How does this apply to nurses? Well, even though they don’t really have a choice about taking CEU courses, they do have a choice about which courses they enroll in. These courses can be strategically chosen for exactly the same purposes as regular CE courses – gaining certifications, honing skills, and moving forward in their careers.
Even if that isn’t a priority, CEU courses should at least be chosen based on your personal interests. It may seem tempting to go for the easy courses – and that can be a valid choice too – but if that’s the reasoning behind 100% of your CEU picks, you’re missing out.
Explore non-traditional options
A lot of nurses stick with the tried-and-true format of classroom-based CEU courses, and for many, this works just fine. However, if you really want to optimize your CEU strategy, you should consider what online courses have to offer as well. Here’s the breakdown between the two different formats:
- Classroom-based courses offer more structure, which is a boon for anyone who’s prone to procrastination. They also foster more communication and networking, whether that’s between those attending, or between the students and the teacher. This is an important aspect of learning for many, so online classes might not measure up in this regard. Unfortunately, the structured nature of this type of class also means that it could conflict with an unpredictable work schedule, which nurses often have. Nurses are also limited to whatever options are in their area, which may not be that comprehensive in smaller towns.
- Online courses offer greater flexibility, and often more savings as well. Many of them let students go at their own pace, rather than setting multiple deadlines throughout the course. This can work beautifully with a crazy schedule, but it can also put chronic procrastinators at a disadvantage. Another downside of online courses is that not all nurses will be familiar with the necessary technologies, which means that they’ll have to learn about navigating learning platforms on top of studying the course material.
Nursing CEUs require a lot of effort to complete, but maybe they don’t require quite as much effort as you think. With a few common-sense strategies on your side, you can optimize the way you complete your CEU requirements.