Friday, December 12, 2008

Continuing Education

I am concerned with the amount of apathy some of the nurses I work with have in regards to continuing education.

Since I have graduated, I have completed 2 ECG courses, ACLS and ENPC. I consider that not much, but necessary for continuing work in the Emergency Department. I have also considered completing a certificate through a college to work on my ENC(C) status which I will qualify to take in about 2 years. In addition, when I am home I am constantly trying to learn more material about triage, and about things that I wasn't sure of when I was at work the previous day.

If I wanted to know why the doctor took the treatment in the way they did, or if I didn't know the clinical condition that well (or why they were testing certain things) I would look it up.

I worked with a newer nurse last night (has worked 1 year more than me) and although she was quite knowledgeable, I was surprised to hear that she had not done any ECG training. I can't say if she has taken any formalized ACLS/ENPC/TNCC course because I didn't ask, but the ECG thing surprised me. This nurse was going to be having a student in January, and is often trusted to work in the resuscitation room. She stated she didn't feel it was a priority for her, and her student had emailed her about things to study, she replied with "nothing".

I have done my own self study as well as taken 2 courses on it to make sure I was up to snuff on my ECGs well enough that most rhythms I can recognize and treat. Although there are some recognizable rhythms that you cannot mistake, there are so many nuances to reading ECGs that there is a medical specialty, electrophysiatry, to do a final read on them (these doctors do 3 years of internal, 2 years of cardiology and another 2 years of electrophysiatry to read ECGs and insert pacemakers etc).

As a new grad of course I feel I don't know enough about Emerg. I'm constantly thinking there is more that I don't know, so I take courses and do a lot of reading to learn. I do recognize that I will always be learning, but still, I want to be a knowledgable ED nurse that thinks ahead and takes in the global picture, not just a person who reacts afterwards. I've had a year's worth of Emerg experience, and still feel that I need more.

I'm not naive that I think that all people are like me, but come on, as a newer nurse there are tons of things you don't know. Doesn't it make sense to focus on continuing education to improve your knowledge? Not everything is completely learned at the bedside, and definately not everything is taught in nursing school.


Anonymous said...

I spent my first night in the hospital (apart from childbirth) last December. The nurses were so important! A patient who doesn't understand something is so dependent on the competence of the nurses to do what is necessary, and to explain what is going on.
I am so glad that you are continuing to learn. Because you doing that, your patients are really lucky to have you.

Anonymous said...

Well said. It's a hard pill to swallow, but there are nurses out there new and seasoned that have no desire to maintain nor further their skills or education.
When a nurse grumbles or makes snide comments about how it's a waste of their time I always give the analogy: Yep.. and we're still counting drops and all our medications are still supplied in glass bottles. Be sure to fix your nursing cap.

Thanks for this post.