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Continuing Nursing Education: A 3-5 Year Plan

I am a licensed Registered Nurse who has been practicing for the last three years. I consider myself a lifelong learner who grabs every available opportunity to develop professionally and acquire new competencies in my specialty. Currently, I am a graduate student pursuing a Master of Nursing Science in Administration.

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I will complete this program in April 2017. My 3-5 year plan for continuing education includes obtaining an advanced degree (Doctorate of Nursing Practice or DNP), specialty certifications, professional nursing organization membership, and building networks by attending conferences and training workshops.

Completing a DNP degree is my highest priority. A DNP education will prepare me for an advanced nursing practice role. The complex nature of health care delivery calls for advanced nursing skills for better disease assessment, development of interventions, and evidence-based practice (Chism, 2012).

DNP graduates can take up roles in nurse-led leadership, policymaking, or administration to coordinate interventions that promote patient and population health (Hansen, 2011). Through this program, I will acquire practice competencies in systems thinking to bolster my leadership focus.

I believe that obtaining the DNP degree in the next five years would enhance my mastery of clinical judgment, care coordination, and health care policy/program development and evaluation. These competencies would be crucial in practice management to ensure quality healthcare for patients and communities.

I also plan to obtain specialty certifications alongside the DNP degree. Nursing specialty certification is awarded upon passing a test administered by a credentialing institution. Studies indicate that certification leads to better quality outcomes and patient safety (Cheesman, 2014). I plan to complete a nurse anesthesia program and sit for the ASA exam in the next three years to become a certified RN anesthetist (CRNA).

As an RN focused on serving as a nurse manager or administrator, I will also obtain the certified nurse manager and leader (CNML) certification in due course. I believe that I am eligible to sit for the exams given my three-year experience in clinical practice. Further, I will gain credits from the DNP for the renewal of the certifications upon their expiry, i.e., after five years.

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As a licensed RN, I believe that membership to specialty organizations is important for professional growth and development. Professional nursing organizations offer continuing education required for licensing, certification, and networking opportunities (Nalle, Wyatt, & Myers, 2011).

I plan to become a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), Clinical Nurse Leader Association, and Organization of Nurse Leaders (ONL) to gain visibility and improve my leadership skills. I will also benefit from access to information resources, lower conference registration fees, and journal subscription. Of particular importance is access to continuing education opportunities to build my competencies in nursing leadership.

Regional and national conferences provide an opportunity for continued professional development to supplement my DNP education. I will attend annual conferences themed on areas of nurse leadership to learn innovative solutions in this field. Besides knowledge/skills benefits, attending conferences comes with networking opportunities.

As Lalonde et al. (2013) write, conferences allow nurses to interact with clinical experts and leaders and acquire insights into clinical processes. In my case, I prioritize the attendance of sponsored conferences or seminars as one way of learning modern health care administration skills I can apply directly to the hospital/nursing administration.

Further, I will learn the policy development process and inter-professional collaboration that are essential for quality improvement and cost reduction.


Cheesman, S. (2014). The “connection” between continuing education and quality. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 40(8), 340‐341.

Chism, L. (2012). Toward clarification of the doctor of nursing practice degree. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 31(4), 287–297.

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Hansen, J. (2011). Nurse residency program builder: Tools for a successful new graduate program. Danvers, MA: HCPro.

Lalonde, M., Hall, L., Price, S., Andrews, G., Harris, A., & MacDonald-Rencz, S. (2013). Support and access to continuing education in Canadian work environments. Nursing Leadership, 26(1), 51-60.

Nalle, M., Wyatt, T., & Myers, C. (2011). Continuing education needs of nurses in a voluntary continuing nursing education State. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 41(3), 107-115.

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