As an RN or APRN, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of Continuing Education Unit (CEU) requirements for maintaining certification and licensure while juggling your personal and professional life at home. The challenge of keeping up on these requirements while navigating unfamiliar territory can make even the most adventurous and stoic travel nurse a little home sick.
There is no doubt, continuing education is important. At its very best, continuing education can provoke critical thinking about the current state of nursing and the direction it is heading, while also keeping you aware of scientific, theoretical, and practical advances in your field. Also, whether you meet in-person or through chat-rooms and email exchanges online, continuing education courses create community and provide professional support as you work together with nurses from all levels of the profession to learn and grow.
While most travel-nursing companies will provide you with the support and advice required to keep your license current, if you’re an APRN with multiple sub-specialty certifications, you have the added burden of having to keep an eye on the requirements set forth by national certifying bodies, as well as your state licensing board.
As for state licensing requirements, the total CEU hours required can vary significantly from state to state. For example, in order to maintain an RN license in California, you must complete 30 hours of continuing education from an approved provider every two years, while Illinois requires 50 hours every two years. GraduateNursingEDU.org provides information on CEU requirements and providers by state and can be a familiar and welcome resource while you’re away from home on long-term assignment.
Whether trying out a short-term assignment for a rewarding change-of-pace, or building a career around the adventure of travel nursing, approaching continuing education with some simple strategy will ensure that meeting CEU obligations doesn’t sully your experience.
Time Your Trip to Stay Certified
Most state licensing is on a two-year cycle. In most cases, this twenty-four month period gives you plenty of time to plan for and space out well-chosen, pertinent continuing education options so the pursuit of CEUs remains a pleasure and not a burden.
However, if you suddenly find yourself thrust into an exciting, new assignment, it can sometimes be difficult to plan for continuing education amid the bustle of packing, moving and settling into a new locale.
The solution to this vexing and common problem is a simple one: Plan ahead and try to get as many CEUs as possible out of the way early in the recertification and licensure cycle. This may mean getting started while still stateside or when new to a travel assignment. This way you won’t get caught scrambling to get required credits at the last minute or having to compete for time that may be better spent taking care of the more immediate and pressing issues involved in international travel.
Use Online Resources like a Pro
Online education, with its 24/7 accessibility, flexibility, and ease of access, is already the obvious choice for busy RNs who work ever-changing shifts and long hours. The upside of this kind of education for travel nurses is abundantly clear.
In addition to the advantages listed above, you can continue attending an online course without interruption, even when suddenly given a new assignment. This gives you the freedom to work immediately from a new location, or even while in transit.
In this way, you can continue to steadily accrue crucial continuing education units even while living out the exciting and sometimes unpredictable life of a travel nurse.
Go Local…and Learn More than Expected
As a travel nurse who has taken on foreign assignments, you have surely discovered rich cultural diversity and novel medical knowledge embedded in the fabric of each country’s culture and medical system.
While many are apt to think that the US is monolithic from state to state, if you’ve served as a domestic travel nurse, you’ve likely been struck by the way regional cultures make their mark on the nursing profession. Instead of becoming frustrated by this, get inspired and soak up as much native wisdom as you can to improve upon your own best practices.
As a savvy travel nurse, you can satisfy CEU requirements by doing as the locals do. Instead of attending a national conference or completing courses online, use new colleagues as a resource to find the best local professional groups, seminars, community colleges and universities offering continuing education.
In the end, continuing education requirements should never be an obstacle as you set out on a life-changing and financially rewarding adventure. With proper planning, online and in-person courses abound, ultimately enriching each assignment, your professional standing and your career.