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Continuing Nursing Education: Breaking the Barriers

The nursing pledge to maintain and elevate professional standards is reflected through the commitment of health workers towards lifetime learning. This dedication to continuing professional development guarantees advanced and contemporary patient care. However, access to affordable continuing nursing education remains a barrier.

Continuing nursing education (CNE) refers to courses specifically for nursing professionals, aimed at keeping them up-to-date with the latest health knowledge. CNE ensures professional development and enables re-licensure and certification points in several Pacific countries. CNE also expands nurses’ knowledge, skills and attitude while contributing to their career development.

The rapid advancement of clinical and public health practice makes CNE essential for contemporary practitioners to function competent ly. As such, nurses’ dedication and commitment towards CNE is an indication of their commitment to their profession and practice.

Following the increasing availability of professional development opportunities, the nursing workforce has dramatically diversified over the last decade and nurses are now able to access wide range of CNE courses. The topics of these vary from skills enhancement to more strategic knowledge about leadership and policy, as well as university-style public health courses.

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) understands the importance of CNE, and is constantly striving to make it more available to nurses. This is because a highly skilled and competent nurse leads to better patient outcomes and advanced service delivery.

This investment by the MoHMS in nurses’ professional skills and development enables increased job satisfaction and staff retention. Allowing such opportunities supports nurses to acquire a variety of skills and knowledge. To do this, MoHMS provides nurses with resources, opportunities and time off to allow harmonious professional development.

Every year MoHMS allocates tens of thousands of dollars to provide a continuous supply of free-of-charge CNE programmes. Although it is a costly investment, it is will worth it because it improves nursing standards and practice and increases risk management while also building patient satisfaction and safety.

Additionally, the MoHMS partners with stakeholders to provide in-house CNE sessions, workshops, training sessions and online courses. These help to reduce the financial burden of individual staff members in maintaining a valid practicing certificate. In most countries nurses are required to demonstrate evidence of such continuing professional development in order to renew their licensure.

Collaboration with POLHN

Another such stakeholder, Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) promotes professional development and provides up-to-date evidence-based CNE courses. POLHN works with MOHMS to provide course completion certificates that can be used as evidence toward meeting the requirements for re-licensure. Such collaboration allows MoHMS to share the cost of keeping the nursing workforce skilled with the latest up-to-date knowledge.

The advancement of technology has increased the number of different ways that CNE can be offered. POLHN provides a list of accredited CNE through its website. The self-paced online courses are free and a course completion certificate can be attained upon successfully finishing. It is important for nurses to understand the learning objectives in order to determine whether the course helps them meet their professional goals.

These online courses provide an attractive and interactive learning experience. The links within each course allow learners to access a wide range of researched information. The self-assessment questions within the curriculum enable students to assess their knowledge.

Nursing continues to be the face of health workforce. It is important to provide strategically planned mentoring to impart adequate knowledge and skills that boost nurses’ confidence. CNE improves knowledge and skills acquisition as well as patient satisfaction and service delivery.

Edited by: Margaret Goydych

For more information, contact Ms Shivala Singh, country coordinator for Fiji (email here).