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Did you know that the half-life of our knowledge base in health care is estimated to be about 5 years?1 According to another estimate, 7% of our information becomes outdated each year.2 At that rate, an astounding 70% of what we know today will be out of date in just 10 years. How can we remain on top of our professional practice in the face of such rapid change?
One answer is participation in continuing-education (CE) activities. These nurse-planned, evidence-based activities are designed to bring together the latest research and new technologies to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients. More than half of state boards of nursing now require CE for relicensure. Similarly, most nursing certification organizations require CE for nurses to maintain their certified status.
Continuing education is available in many formats to suit your learning style and preferences. You may be most familiar with print CE activities in nursing journals such as Nursing2008. But increasingly, nurses are turning to the Internet for a wider variety of CE activities-and for the instant feedback they receive upon completing the activity. For examples, check out the CE activities offered at http://www.nursing2008.com and http://www.nursingcenter.com.
If you're someone who enjoys live presentations, you can also seek CE opportunities at work or from local chapters of professional organizations. These options are typically low cost or even free. Or consider obtaining CE contact hours at the Nursing2009 Symposium (May 6 to 9 in Orlando, Fla.) or another national conference, where you'll learn from prominent nursing experts and interact with speakers and other attendees.
As professionals, we all have a responsibility to stay current by participating in continuing education. But don't forget that the key to maintaining competence is to use your new knowledge in daily practice. Knowledge without application does nothing to advance nursing practice or optimize patient outcomes.
Continuing education gives you the tools you need to give your patients evidence-based care. Putting those tools to work is up to you!!
Janet S. Thomas, RN-BC, MS
Continuing Education Manager Nursing2008
1. Shekelle PG, et al. Validity of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality clinical practice guidelines. JAMA. 286(12):1461-1467, September 26, 2001. [Context Link]
2. Lumby, J. Response from the College of Nursing to the Department of Education science and training on issues paper, The College of Nursing, Burwood, Australia, April 22, 2005. [Context Link]
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