Stephanie L. Taylor is grateful that online education enabled her to improve the care she provides to acutely ill patients.
Taylor recently earned her certification in progressive care nursing after taking the PCCN certification review course through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
A nurse for 18 months, Taylor said the online course allowed her to improve and update her knowledge, skills and abilities on her own schedule.
“I work an hour away from my house, and so on my days off I don’t want to drive another two hours to fit in a class,” said Taylor, who works in the cardiovascular ICU/IMC unit at Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler, Texas.
“Plus, whenever you are taking a course in a classroom, you only retain a certain percentage of that information,” said Taylor, who also is working on her CCRN. “Online you can do it in smaller increments and you retain more of the information. That’s the way I look at it.”
The review course, which covers such areas as acute coronary syndrome and cardiovascular pharmacology, is among the online educational offerings busy critical care nurses can work on at their own pace and convenience to advance their career and provide optimum care. Other web-based, professional development options on the AACN website include more than 300 CE offerings, clinical toolkits, webcasts and free monthly webinars.
For the most part, online education opportunities allow nurses to follow the trajectory of the content however they want and piece it together in a way that make sense to them. That’s what makes online availability so popular, said Linda Bell, MSN, RN, a clinical practice specialist working with the technology-based learning group at AACN.
It is difficult to pinpoint which online AACN education offerings are more popular, Bell said.
But webinar data released in June found nearly half of webinar viewers apply the practice recommendations presented and 96% would recommend the 30-minute webinars featuring nationally recognized speakers.
AACN began offering online learning in 2002 when it launched the Essentials of Critical Care Orientation, a self-paced, interactive, Web-based program that focuses on the fundamentals, proving the theoretical foundation necessary to care for critically ill patients.
As to what nurses want to learn more about, the No. 1 selected topic, no matter which delivery channel, is always the same, Bell said: sepsis.
The difficulty is pinning down exactly what nurses want to learn since the topic is so broad.
“Sometimes it’s just pointing them to the additional resources they can find on the Web,” Bell said. “Everybody is so busy they don’t have time to go out there looking.”
Interest is also widespread since sepsis is a universal diagnosis.
“It doesn’t matter whether I work in a pediatric unit or a traumatic brain injury unit or cardiac unit, any of those patients can get sepsis, so it’s not restricted to one particular type of unit,” Bell said.
Critical care nurses also can access information and resources to help them stay up-to-date in nursing theory and practice at the ANA’s Nursing Knowledge Center, although its focus is more global, said Terri Gaffney, MPA, RN.
“We offer information that will help advance the profession,” said Gaffney, senior director, new product development of the center.
“For example, we revised the code of ethics for nurses this year so there is a lot of educational offering for the code of ethics.”
Online learning allows nurses who want to deepen their expertise the flexibility to do so.
Taylor pursued her certification “so I can be the best nurse and keep up,” she said.
“Nursing school doesn’t really prepare you all the way. Doing the review course bought forth some pertinent practices and information so I can care for my patients, Drugs and other things nurses use change, it seems like every 10 minutes. The AACN tests you on the current things you actually use to take care of your patient.”