Time never stands still, and neither does medical knowledge and technology. In healthcare, advances can be dramatic, so it’s vital that nurses apply lifelong learning to stay ahead.
From tiny implants and sensors that monitor and even control biological functions from within the human body to data science projects that could one day eradicate some diseases, technology is truly transforming the work of healthcare professionals.
That is one of the main reasons that nurses, and other qualified staff, must engage fully with continuous professional development (CPD). CPD is also a legislative requirement in a profession that literally involves life-or-death situations. It’s also important because the public needs the reassurance that their nurses and physicians are professionally up to date.
There are also personal advantages for nurses who adopt a lifelong learning approach. Not least the fact it can greatly influence their career progression and sense of job satisfaction.
How do you embrace lifelong learning?
One of the main reasons people choose to pursue a career in nursing is that it is both a deeply fulfilling and highly varied job role. Whichever specialism or setting you select to work in, this is one profession where no one day will be the same as the next. Then, of course, you have the fact that patients are all individuals, with all their own characteristics, needs, and experiences.
That all suggests that anyone starting a career in nursing would need to be ready to embrace change and diversity from day one. A desirable personal attribute for nurses is a willingness to be flexible, responsive, and equitable in the care they provide. However, the best preparation for a career in nursing would be to fine-tune and underpin this willingness to learn and stimulate versatility in applying technical knowledge and skills. Or, as one research paper on lifelong learning in nursing sums it up, “Quality nursing education has a long-term valuable impact on maintaining continuing competence and developing excellence in nursing practice.”
So, when engaged in reputable educational programs, such as the online Rockhurst University MSN-PMHNP program, for example, students benefit from a wealth of digital resources, and also rich and varied clinical experiences. In addition, the program stimulates and inspires personal inquiry and reflection. That all ensures that qualified nurses use their professional skills effectively as soon as they start working in a clinical setting.
This excellent grounding at the beginning of their careers also means that at the point of care, nurses enjoy an instinctive desire to continually add to their abilities, along with a dedication to better patient understanding and constantly updated medical knowledge.
More advantages of being ready to learn
Being open and willing to new ideas, systems, and techniques can certainly help nurses to embrace technological developments more effectively, and with greater confidence.
For example, there is now a massive emphasis on patient-centered care and holistic health support that takes into account an individual’s emotional, mental, spiritual, and environmental features. This demands a great deal more data collection and sharing, which in turn requires competence in the latest patient care network technology for instance.
That also illustrates why modern nurses need well-developed information technology skills, including an appreciation of both data confidentiality and digital collaboration. Nurses may need to communicate and consult with other healthcare professionals in any location, including potentially in other countries.
Organizational and career merits
Being open to a process of continuous professional development is often integral to any nursing job role. Employers require this from their healthcare personnel to ensure they stay compliant with legislation and maintain the highest possible standards of patient care. Being able to demonstrate a significant investment in the skills and knowledge of their healthcare staff can also help providers remain competitive and secure new contracts and patient trust.
Therefore, if you are able to demonstrate clear evidence of a commitment to lifelong learning, you are more likely to be successful in applying for nursing roles. Job promotions can also be easier to get if you have fully engaged with all opportunities to further develop your personal and professional knowledge and skills.
Diversity and inclusion
It is worth mentioning at this point that as nurses need and seek continuing professional development as a fundamental aspect of their role, employers must be very aware of their responsibility to make learning equitable across their organizations.
That requires that the learning culture they invest in and support removes any barriers that individual nurses may have to their lifelong learning journey. For instance, investment by employers may need to focus on soft skills, not just technical abilities as a nurse, and methods of learning may need to be varied to ensure all staff can learn at their own pace.
Virtual and e-learning options are ideal for this purpose and can certainly enable working nurses—or pre-qualification candidates—to fit their learning around existing family and job commitments.
Personal gains from lifelong learning
Continuously building your knowledge and skills as a nurse is not purely a professional advantage. You may well find personal benefits from a willingness to practice lifelong learning, too.
That includes having constantly renewed confidence in your ability to find the best outcomes for your patients. There is also a sense of job satisfaction that can come from knowing you are finding ways to be better at what you do, alongside renewed professional confidence in your ability to think quickly and make assured decisions.
Changing specialties or healthcare settings may also become easier if you are constantly adding to your perspectives, interactions, and resume.
Keep in mind also that nursing is a true vocation. The desire to be of service and make a difference is usually why people choose this career. So, you will inevitably feel lifted and encouraged when lifelong learning boosts and refreshes your insights, personal abilities, and technical skills.