Editor’s Note: Please welcome Medtopicwriter’s newest guest contributor, Karen Lederer, a ”writer and educator who loves to laugh and dream big“. She will grace the pages of Medtopicwriter with her take on many aspects of the nursing profession and health care from time to time. We appreciate your comments and thoughts about her topics and nursing in general. Please add your two cents and let us count you in.
Types of Continuing Education for Nurses
Amidst the bustle of London, surrounded by the stately Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, I visited a delightful museum next to St. Thomas’ Hospital. Dedicated to Florence Nightingale, the visit changed my view of this remarkable woman from the somewhat corny, overdone ‘Lady with the Lamp’ to a vibrant and courageous visionary.
In 1820, Nightingale was born into an affluent family. Her father believed in educated women, home-schooling her in Italian, Latin, history, writing and mathematics. Despite the liberal education, her family and society expected her to conform to the societal ideals: a suitable marriage and motherhood. She defied these expectations. Nightingale felt a ‘calling from God’ and enrolled in a German training school for nursing with her family’s reluctant support. In her time, uneducated, poor, and often disreputable women provided nursing care. She subsequently established a school of nursing at St. Thomas’ Hospital, thus advancing the profession.
Building on Nightingale’s heritage, the Tri-Council for Nursing called “for registered nurses to advance their education in the interest of enhancing quality and safety across healthcare settings.” United in view, the following esteemed organizations released this consensus statement (May 2010): (1) American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), (2) American Nurses Association (ANA), (3) American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), and (4) National League of Nursing (NLN). For those interested, find the entire consensus statement here: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education-resources/TricouncilEdStatement.pdf
Due to the increased complexity of healthcare delivery and the growing populations of patients with chronic conditions, highly educated nurses are now a necessity. Present-day nurses are responding by seeking professional advancement through further education. Did you know many of these programs are offered online from many of the best colleges? Fortunately, this flexible option gives nurses the ability to continue a career and advance their education. An RN-to-BSN program usually takes 12-18 months; part-time MSN programs usually take 18-24 months. Additionally, many employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement – an important feature in today’s economy!
An RN-to-BSN program – step into professional nursing
BSN nursing programs builds on existing nursing skills and a solid base in the liberal arts, providing the professional perspective necessary for performing in a management or leadership role. According to the AACN, baccalaureate nursing education would include essential features such as:
- Patient-centered care and cultural sensitivity
- Inter-professional teams
- Evidence-based practice and informatics
- Quality improvement and patient safety
- Genetics and genomics
Education at the BSN-level provides increased opportunities for career advancement and higher salaries. Graduates integrate theory into practice; apply knowledge of social/cultural factors to the care of diverse populations; and value lifelong learning to support excellence in nursing practice. Remember, employers in the health care sector are increasingly looking for nurses who have earned advanced degrees. Many opportunities such as administration, research, consulting and teaching, require at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The MSN program – step up to advanced nursing
According to the AACN, nurses with graduate education “make important contributions to the health, education, business, political, and social structure of the United States.” Graduate studies address the organization and finance of health care; ethics and professional role development; and advanced physical assessment, advanced physiology and advanced pharmacology.
Prepared as ‘Advanced Practice Nurses’ (an overarching term for RNs prepared at the graduated level), one can focus on one of four roles:
- Nurse Practitioner - these nurses provide high-quality healthcare services similar to those of a physician. They diagnose and treat a range of healthcare problems, focusing on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. Find more information from the American.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist - these nurses practice in three spheres of influence: the client sphere (individual, family, and community), the staff sphere (nurses, nursing practice) and the organization/system sphere. They use research and evidence-based practices to create new and improved models of care.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife - these nurses care for women (adolescent through menopause), emphasizing pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecological health. They can perform physical examinations and prescribe contraceptive methods, as well as care for male partners of sexually transmitted infections.
- Nurse Anesthetist - these nurses administer anesthesia for all types of surgical procedures in a variety of settings (traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers and offices of dentists, podiatrists, and plastic surgeons.
Over her long career, Florence Nightingale used her political connections, intellect, and resolve to literally transform nursing to a respected profession. To honor her lasting impact, Nightingale received the Order of Merit, a highly distinguished award personally conferred by the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.
A more highly educated profession is a necessity, required to meet the nursing needs of the nation and to deliver effective and safe care. So, consider advancing your education. Nursing has a proud heritage, one that deserves to be continued!
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Photo credit: Courtesy of photographer, Peyton C. Blackwell