HealthDecember 05, 2019

Why you should pursue lifelong learning

The job of a nurse or nurse leader isn’t easy. After a long day of work, it might not seem appealing or feasible to try to learn more about your practice.

However, there are many reasons why you should make the time to pursue learning across your career. Besides providing you with the opportunity to advance your career, learning is crucial to improving patient outcomes.

A 2011 study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing discovered that a 10 percent increase in hospital nursing staff holding a BSN degree correlated with a two to six percent reduction in patient mortality rates. And the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report laid out eight recommendations to improve the nursing profession. The sixth recommendation: Ensure nurses engage in lifelong learning.

Here are some more reasons why it’s important for you to keep up with your learning:

1. Strides in medicine are constantly being made

New medical information is constantly being discovered and disseminated, with thousands of medical journal articles published each year. This year alone, about 1.47 million new biomedical research papers will have been published, according to estimates from researchers at Stanford University.

No one person could read all of that information, so it’s best to focus on what pertains most closely to your profession. Some of the most respected medical and nursing journals to keep up with include the American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Professional Nursing, American Nurse Today, Journal of Research in Nursing, Journal of Nursing Care Quality, Nursing Education Perspectives, and Nurse Leader, according to Jacksonville University. You can also keep up on the latest findings from medical organizations such as Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

2. There’s a lag between research and practice

There’s nearly a 20-year gap between the medical community learning something significant through research and putting it into practice, according to a report from the National Academy of Medicine.

It’s unfortunate for patients that they have to wait so long for new treatments, and although you alone cannot speed things along, it can be beneficial to patients to be up-to-date on the latest developments. For example, a young patient may request to have a cervical cancer screening even though it is not beneficial to her before the age of 30, according to the latest research.

Knowing where the research is at can help you to be an advocate for your patients and ensure you’re employing evidence-based practice. In fact, nurse-led research is increasingly being recognized as a leading way to reduce hospital errors, cut unnecessary costs and improve patient outcomes, according to the World Health Organization.

3. Patients expect it

It’s not just that learning helps improve patient care; patients also expect that you’re up-to-date on the latest treatment options. Studies show a greater number of patients are doing their own research on the internet about their conditions before coming in to seek medical attention and thus are more inclined to become involved with their health decision-making.

Patients may expect you to know the latest information they’ve read on the internet—regardless if it’s true or not. So it helps to try to be familiar with the latest trends and be able to discuss them with patients because they may change healthcare providers or self-treat in lieu of professional medical attention if they don’t believe they’re getting the most up-to-date treatments, which could result in reduced patient satisfaction scores and lowered patient outcomes.

4. It’s a requirement of your job

Depending on where you live, you’ll need a certain number of hours of continuing education (CE) credits to renew your RN license every couple of years.

“I think it’s very important for nurses to pursue lifelong learning, particularly because our careers should advance as our profession advances and as our healthcare field advances,” said Karen Innocent, DNP, RN, CRNP, CMSRN, Executive Director, Continuing Education, Wolters Kluwer Health, Learning Research & Practice. “As there’s more research that comes out, gradually we all need to stay up-to-date with those changes.”

Fortunately, solutions providers such as Wolters Kluwer Health offer a range of continuing education resources, such as audio lectures, articles, certification review programs and more. Contact us to find out more and learn how our continuing education solutions are designed to help you thrive in your career.

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