Access to Continuing Education for Critical Care Nurses in Rural or Remote Settings

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Abstract

Caring for the critically ill does not occur solely in large medical centers or urban areas. Nurses practicing in rural or remote settings practice as nurse generalists, caring for a wide range of patients, including those needing critical care. As a nurse generalist, the need for a wide variety of skill sets challenges nurses in rural areas to maintain current practice through continuing education across many content areas. They also may not come in contact with critically ill patients or emergent situations as often as their urban counterparts, which can make remaining comfortable with more advanced skills difficult. Because nurses working in rural or remote areas may care for critically ill patients less often, the need to remain vigilant in pursuit of continuing education is increased; however, access to continuing education can be problematic because of geographic isolation, difficulty getting time off from work, limited financial resources, and perceived lack of applicable topics. With advances in technology, critical care nurses working in rural areas have more options for continuing education, which is crucial for maintaining a skilled nursing workforce in rural health care facilities. This article addresses challenges critical care nurses working in remote or rural areas face in pursuing continuing education and provides information about available educational opportunities.

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