Mandatory Continuing Education: Past, Present, and Future Trends and Issues

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Mandatory continuing education (CE) for nurses continues to be a viable means by which nurses can remain competent in the face of ever-increasing knowledge and technology in the health care setting. A multiplicity of CE providers, offering a variety of teaching approaches, exists to ensure nurses remain competent and advance in their fields of practice. Presently, more research must be conducted to measure the effectiveness of CE programs on patient care outcomes. Scholarly investigation may assist in justifying mandatory CE for nurses if positive patient care outcomes can be identified. Several states are regulating professional nursing practitioners by requiring CE. Although some states have not endorsed mandatory CE for nurses, it is likely that more state boards of nursing will continue the slow but steady trend of requiring CE for relicensure—especially if research establishes positive patient care outcomes.

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