Medical professionals go through a tremendous amount of training to become healthcare providers. For example, doctors go through four years of college, four years of medical school, and then complete residency. Some doctors even complete a fellowship after this. After all of this education, a lot of people are surprised to hear that doctors need to continue to go to school. This is called continuing education, and it comes in the form of additional lectures, conferences, and modules they need to complete from time to time.

So, why is continuing education so important? Continuing education is important because doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have to complete a certain amount of continuing education units from time to time. They are required to maintain their medical licenses. Beyond this reason, there are several other reasons why continuing education is so important. 

nurse studying

What Is Continuing Education?

Continuing education refers to the process of learning about new tests, treatments, injuries, and illnesses even after someone has completed his or her formal education. For example, if a nurse goes to a conference to learn about a new disease that was not around when he or she was in nursing school, that is a form of continuing education. Continuing education might also refer to exams, but not all forms of continuing education require someone to take a test. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants have their own forms of continuing education. 

How Does Continuing Education Work?

When people talk about continuing education, they usually refer to the credits that someone racks up over the years. Most doctors and nurses have to complete a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain their medical licenses. Some of the most common forms of continuing education include:

  • Taking a quiz or a test from time to time to earn a certain number of points
  • Going to lectures either in person or via video conference
  • Attending a conference that might be held in some other location 
  • Taking the time to give a lecture students 

If a doctor or a nurse does not rack up enough credits, he or she might not be allowed to renew his or her medical license. On top of this, doctors need to renew their board certification and any specialty certifications every few years. 

Why Is Continuing Education So Important?

There are several reasons why continuing education is so important. These include:

1. Stay Up To Date on Medical Information

Of course, one of the biggest reasons why continuing education is so important is that nurses are able to stay up-to-date on medical information. For example, there might be new diagnostic and treatment modalities that are released after someone graduates from school.

If a nurse is not in the classroom, the only way he or she is going to learn about that new information is if he or she goes through the continuing education process. Some of these new tools may eventually become the gold standard of the field, and it is important for nurses to learn about them. Even though nurses might read research journals from time to time, it is still important for them to demonstrate proficiency with these new skills by completing a test or quiz. 

2. Improve Patient Outcomes

Next, continuing education is important because it improves patient outcomes. This can be interpreted in two ways. First, patients want to work with doctors and nurses who stay up-to-date on the latest information. Therefore, patient satisfaction is probably going to be higher if doctors and nurses decide to stay on top of this new information.

Furthermore, doctors and nurses get a chance to refresh the skills they already have when they go through the continuing education process. For example, they might have skills that they only use sparingly. At the same time, these skills are still important when they run into a patient who requires those specific skills. Therefore, continuing education can drastically improve patient outcomes. 

3. Strengthen Risk Management

Continuing education is also important because it can help doctors strengthen risk management skills. As information changes from time to time, doctors need to understand how this impacts their risk management profile. They need to understand when to use what type of tasks, when to use certain treatment options, and what to do if things don't go quite right. All of this is information that is covered through the continuing education process, and the information can change throughout the years. Doctors need to make sure they use the most recent guidelines if they want to minimize their risk profiles. This is important for protecting themselves and their patients.

4. Better Care Coordination

Continuing education plays a critical role in care coordination. What this means is that medicine is a team sport. Doctors usually do not do everything on their own. They need to coordinate patient care with nurses, and they need to coordinate patient care with other doctors. For example, doctors might need to refer patients somewhere else from time to time. Doctors need to know when they need to reach out to a specialist, and these rules can change from time to time. Doctors will learn about this through continuing education, and they will apply it to patient care. 

5. Improve Regulatory Compliance

Finally, continuing education is also important because it can improve regulatory compliance. The reality is that doctors and nurses need to go through continuing education because they are told to do so. If they do not go through the continuing education process, they will not be able to renew their medical license. This will make it difficult to practice medicine in their jurisdiction. Furthermore, most insurance companies are only going to reimburse doctors if they are board-certified. If they do not go through the continuing education process, they will not be able to renew their board certification. This would make it difficult for doctors to get paid. Therefore, doctors need to go through the continuing education process to comply with all rules and regulations. 

Rely On The Institute of Continuing Healthcare Education

It is important for healthcare professionals to make sure they stay up-to-date with all continuing education requirements. There are a lot of requirements to know, and there are resources that can make this easier. If you would like to learn more about continuing education, it would be our pleasure to assist you. We are The Institute of Continuing Healthcare Education, and we make it easy for you to understand the various continuing education requirements. Take a look at our website today, and reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you