Why You Need Nursing Continuing Education Courses and Certification
Nursing education courses could land you a job that is as recession proof as any job could be in today’s economy. That’s because the healthcare industry is the largest industry in the United States and it’s still growing faster than any other industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS, the government agency that collects and analyzes employment statistics for the country, expects that healthcare will be the biggest job creator through at least 2016. Among all healthcare occupations registered nurses will be in most demand.
Because these jobs require specialized training you will need to take courses to qualify for the career you want. You will probably need some type of license or certification. To get a job as an R.N., for example, you will need a diploma, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree in nursing. Diploma programs take two or three years to complete. Numerous colleges, universities, nursing schools, and private schools offer associate degree programs, which also take two or three years to complete.
You can become an R.N. without having a bachelor’s degree. Graduates of diploma and associate’s degree programs often go on to study for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), however, because many jobs, including teaching, research, and administration, require at least a BSN. R.N.s with associate’s degrees may earn their BSN through RN-to-BSN completion programs, an increasing number of which are offered online. Nurses typically take continuing education courses while they work. In fact, many hospitals reimburse tuition for their employees who are studying for their BSN.
To gain a license a student must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a licensing exam. Registered nurses must also become licensed in the state in which they work. Licensing requirements vary by state. License renewal requires nursing continuing education courses, which help nurses learn new skills and keep up-to-date in their profession.
Several important nursing specialties require registered nurses to gain national certification and/or state or national approval, which requires study beyond the BSN. These include clinical nursing, forensic nursing, nursing case management, legal nursing consulting, stress management, nurse-midwifery, and nurse practitioner.
As with most professions, higher nursing education usually translates into higher salaries. According to BLS the median starting salary for registered nurses with their BSN is over $50,000. With ten or more years of experience, the median salary is over $65,000. Salaries vary considerably by location (highest in California) and specialization (highest for nurse anesthetists with master’s degrees).
In addition to rising salaries and job security, nurses can expect good benefit packages that typically include paid vacations and sick leave, tuition reimbursement, and pension plans. Because of the ongoing shortage of nurses, many hospitals offer recruitment incentives such as signing bonuses, relocation and housing assistance, and day care.
Due to medical advances and an aging population the demand for skilled nurses will continue to increase over the foreseeable future, providing nurses with opportunities for well-paid, rewarding, and secure careers.