Continuing education, or the further learning one receives when already a professional equipped with a degree or certificate, is an important element of health care careers. Changes occur on a daily basis in medicine. New technologies and treatment innovations are being discovered all the time. Continuing education keeps those in medical field careers abreast of what's happening in the field. It teaches those in health care new ways of approaching problems and how to better care for the health care consumer. Continuing education in the medical field is so valuable there are even journals and professional associations dedicated to its subject. The Alliance for Continuing Medical Education n states their goal succinctly: "[We] are a community dedicated to accelerating excellence in health care performance through education, advocacy and collaboration."
Most professions in the health care field require a certain number of continuing education credits every year. This ensures that medical professionals stay current with the latest medical advancements, which ultimately means better health care for patients. A nurse or physician who isn't educated about the latest and most accepted treatment modalities becomes a liability to their clients. Continuing education helps promote patient safety. All states require doctors and nurses to obtain continuing education credits to maintain licensure. If one has additional training, continuing education is often required to maintain that certification as well. In New Jersey, RNs are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their RN license. The best way to accrue a number of continuing education hours is to attend a conference where CEUs (continuing education units) are offered. Conferences will often offer "3 CEUs" if you attend one of their informational breakout sessions. Certificates are provided at the end of the meeting or conference. Make sure the conference and/or continuing education credit is approved by the state or your workplace. Employers and professional associations may have specific criteria for continuing education credits.
Continuing education opportunities are presented on different professional Web sites as well as in professional journals. Hospitals and doctors' offices will announce upcoming continuing education classes for their employees. For physicians, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) exists "to identify, develop and promote standards for quality continuing medical education (CME) utilized by physicians in their maintenance of competence and incorporation of new knowledge to improve quality medical care for patients and their communities." This organization's Web site offers lists of accredited CME programs and upcoming continuing education opportunities. This site is a great resource to help physicians stay on top of their continuing education requirements.
Continuing education is the way health care professionals stay abreast of the latest advancements in medicine while also maintaining their licensure, but the public benefits most from this professional obligation because they get better informed health care providers and improved care in the end.