Professional Education: A Life-long Commitment to Excellence

Whether you are new to your nursing career or have an abundance of experience, there is always something new to learn. You may need continuing education (and specifically pharmacology credits) for renewing your license, want to brush up on your clinical skills, or are interested in how to apply the latest new or updated clinical practice guideline to your daily practice. No matter the circumstance, there is an abundance of ways to access educational content, from PCNA and other sources, that you can apply in practice to improve patient outcomes in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease or stroke. 

One of the key missions of PCNA is to provide high-quality education to our members and others involved in cardiovascular disease and prevention. We strive to provide a wide array of opportunities—those that PCNA develops specifically for you, as well as sharing opportunities hosted by partner organizations. We’ve highlighted some options below for how to gain new knowledge, skills, and confidence—both in-person and virtual live programs, as well as self-paced online programs that are available in PCNA’s online learning library.  

Where to Go for Education

Think about what your goals are for your education choices. Do you need CE hours for your license? Is your workplace requiring a particular set of skills for you to maintain your current job? Are you looking to build your knowledge and skills as you seek career advancement? Are you interested in more global topics, such as health equity, social determinants of health, or other issues that affect you and/or your patients? No matter your need or interest, PCNA is one source for you of great educational content, and there are likely other resources that also may be close to home.  

Your workplace is a good place to start. Many organizations such as academic institutions, hospital systems, or healthcare practices may offer a regular ‘menu’ that may include mandatory (required for state re-licensure) or optional sessions. Programs may be of varying length and are often specifically focused on institutional procedures so that everyone on the team knows the information and applies it in the workplace. Your supervisor may have recommendations or requirements for you and others in similar settings that will enhance your knowledge and skills. 

Most professional organizations, including PCNA, offer education opportunities on an array of topics. Some of the offerings may include continuing education contact hours, others may be more informational in nature and still helpful in your current or intended workplace activities. Short podcasts and videos, webinars, and even longer courses, can all provide information you can apply to your practice.

Some institutions and organizations, as will be discussed later in this article, offer longer-term education such as certifications or even degree programs. For those interested in advancing their career, these can be an excellent choice. 

Choosing Between In-Person Versus Virtual Online Options   

Formerly the mainstay of nursing education, in-person gatherings are still an effective way to learn content, network with colleagues, share questions, and identify potential solutions to issues or barriers you may be facing. As COVID-19 rates have declined, in-person learning opportunities are becoming more available.

Consider available in-person opportunities such as:

  • Grand rounds in your local setting
    • Often disease-focused and include patient cases, with a discussion of potential treatment options for a particular patient or disease state. These are a great opportunity to interact with colleagues and see how care is provided locally.
  • Lunch-and-learn sessions in your workplace
    • Typically short, one-session topic discussions, sometimes with a guest speaker
  • Journal clubs (through your community, PCNA chapter, or another source)
    • Individuals read through one or more articles and then discuss them as a group
  • Local or regional meetings, such as PCNA chapter meetings
    • Presentations by local, regional, or national-level speakers on topics of interest to the nursing/healthcare community; usually 1-4 hours in length
  • National meetings of PCNA or other organizations
    • Often multi-day events with a variety of national-level speakers on several topics of interest to health care professionals

Due to restrictions on travel, costs, time availability, or other considerations, virtual or online education may fit your needs. You could choose to:

  • Listen to podcasts (check out PCNA’s Heart to Heart Nurse series launching this month!)
  • Watch webinars or longer summits
  • Learn from reading digital Monographs
  • Participate in more comprehensive programs such as mini-certificates and certificates. Some of these may take place at specific times and others are available on-demand.
    • PCNA offers a behavior change mini-certificate program and a Cardiovascular Nursing Certificate program
  • Continue your education through a degree program, either virtually or in-person

Cost Considerations

While some educational content is available at no cost, there may be a fee associated with the session or program. Organizations including PCNA may have scholarships available for at least some programs—don’t be afraid to ask!

Getting the Most Out of the Experience

There is no denying that we are all busy. It may be more tempting than ever to ‘multi-task’ during a live or recorded educational session but consider for a moment who will generally benefit the most from your focused attention to a program. Your patients. Set aside the never-ending task of charting, delay developing your grocery list, avoid the abyss of returning emails, and give the content your full attention. Selection of content that is new and expands your knowledge base will help to maintain your attention and allow you to master new content so that you can apply the most up-to-date information in your daily tasks and provide the best care to your patients.

Next Steps

As you are completing an educational activity, consider how you can use the information in your practice. Consider taking an active role and for each course make it a goal to share at least one pearl or takeaway from the course and share it with at least one or more of your work colleagues. Sharing knowledge is a powerful tool that improves care. Think of it as part of your role as a colleague, mentor, or leader. Providing evidence-based care and being able to share that knowledge with others increases your visibility as an expert.

No matter which educational opportunities you select, know that as a lifelong learner you can continue to apply what you learn. We look forward to having you participate in PCNA and other opportunities!

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