Lifelong learning helps nurses ride healthcare hurricanes

By | 2020-04-15T16:47:57-04:00 August 8th, 2018|2 Comments

Some nurses become skilled in reading subtle shifts in the job market and noticing cracks in the old system. They concentrated on acquiring new skills, competencies and information so they could survive different work environments, essentially preparing themselves months in advance for dramatic upheaval.

These practitioners are out-of­-the-box thinkers, well-equipped to seize alternate opportunities if their employment situation suddenly changed. When it does, they thrive.

But there are other nurses who just aren’t ready.

Change is irresistible

“Annalee” and her colleagues, for instance, had another answer for changing times: They locked their doors and shuttered the windows. When they heard about upcoming mergers, rightsizing, re-engineering or changes in national healthcare, they focused on working harder, applying lessons learned from their basic education and past clinical experience.

Her cohort insisted there would be no need for more education or further credentialing. They shunned conferences, attended only mandatory inservices and avoided any new information that might disturb their customary practice. They felt safe, but they were nursing in a box.

Right up to the end, they banked on past learning to keep them employed. Then a hurricane of change blasted their worlds and left them jobless.

No one can discount our initial education; it helps us earn a nursing license. Nobody can denigrate experience, the essential component for which new graduates yearn. We need to acquire current knowledge and expertise to anchor our present practice and transform it so it’s marketable tomorrow.

This is why by OnCourse Learning recently published the “How to Use Lifelong Learning for a Lifetime of Success” e-book. In it, we’ve included some of the best research, statistics and articles available on the benefits of lifelong learning. Some of our nursing friends, Dina R. Madrid (see page 5) and OnCourse Learning’s Maria Morales (page 8), share their thoughts about why learning throughout one’s career is so important.

When nurses embrace lifelong learning, we demonstrate to society and employers that nurses are part of a dynamic professional group that prepares today to meet the world’s healthcare needs tomorrow.

Get educated, work, repeat

Every year for 15 years, I have spoken at the National Student Nurses’ Association’s annual conference. With hundreds of student nurses sitting before me, my message is:

“You’re all going back to school. Basic education just isn’t enough.”

I’ve given 14 commencement speeches, and my message is the same. We can’t all go to school all of the time, but we can always continue our education. And we must: Most states now mandate continuing education as a condition of re-licensure, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s certification programs, as well as many nursing and non-nursing subspecialty groups, require certified nurses to demonstrate current proficiency through annual documented learning for re-certification.

We at by OnCourse Learning are committed to helping nurses acquire continuing education contact hours to successfully explore new careers and transform old ones. Since our inception, we’ve aggressively moved forward so we now provide continuing education for 24 healthcare professions through more than 4,000 educational activities.

We’re the largest provider. This is what we do, every minute, all over the world.

We’ve learned new ways to ride this hurricane of change, and we’d like to pass this information on to you. We hope to see survivors, thrivers and seekers participate in our educational activities. We even hope to see Annalee. Why don’t you come and keep Annalee company? Never stop learning.

Get your copy of “How to Use Lifelong Learning for a Lifetime of Success.”


Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN
Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, is founder and CEO of the Forum for Shared Governance and a former editor for As a presenter at professional conferences, Hess often addresses participants on how to find the right job and steps for building a successful career.


  1. Avatar
    Kourtney Lynam August 12, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    You get an advanced degree, certifications, attend conferences, and participate in committees. They’ll still replace you with a new grad. They don’t want to pay you for the extra work that you put in.

  2. Avatar
    Dawn Griswold August 14, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Many of us do not have time to continue with formal education. And all places of employment give constant educational seminars. I have seen some LPN’s run circles around some RN’s. It is all an individual profession. After years of driving an hour each way for work, I tried to obtain a position at my local hospital which happens to be a union hospital. They would not hire me because the union requires that all nurses are paid by their years of exsperience, and thus I cost too much….. they would rather pay a new grad, than hire someone with 15 years of ICU exsperience.

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