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Pros and Cons of Mandatory Continuing Nursing Education

The necessity for continuing nursing education (CNE) has been well established and documented, with available scholarship demonstrating an association between mandatory CNE and the actualization of professional competence among nurses (Smith, 2003). Indeed, CNE is not only seen as the cornerstone to the professional development of nurses within healthcare settings (McCarthy & Evans, 2003) but also as a necessary component that allows nursing professionals to perform competently (Tilley, 2008). The present paper elucidates the pros and cons of CNE, particularly concerning its impact on nursing competency.

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A foremost advantage of CNE is that it enables nurses to keep up with the shifting technological and patient care trends which are brought into the limelight by new medical breakthroughs, threats of emerging or evolving diseases, as well as developing health care innovations (Smith, 2003). It would be almost impossible for nurses to deal with emerging threats of disease or innovations in medical and health care technology, for example, if they fail to develop their competencies through CNE. Another advantage related to impact on competency is that CNE provides the capacity for nurses to improve patient outcomes through continuous exposure to journal articles, webinars, videos, or clinical trials. A third advantage is that CNE provides nurses with the capacity to demonstrate professionalism by keeping up with emerging evidence-based practices as reported in journals and other modes of education (Tilley, 2008). Available literature also demonstrates that CNE fosters networking among nurses who attend seminars or read journal articles, which in turn elevates their competency levels through the sharing of experience and knowledge (McCarthy & Evans, 2003).

In disadvantages, it is documented that the high costs involved in CNE may not equate to the competency skills achieved, particularly upon the realization that some CNE programs and resources are commercially-oriented and hence leave a minimal footprint in terms of their impact on competency. It is also argued that some nurses fail to benefit from CNE as most of the programs require a substantial allocation of time. Such allocation may not be possible due to other underlying factors such as the shortage of nurses. As such, most of the nurses enroll in the programs to get the certificate at the expense of competency development (Ousey & Roberts, 2013).

The position taken by the group is that CNE should be mandatory for all nurses as it assists them to develop various levels of skills and competencies if well administered. As already discussed in the pros section, CNE enhances the competency of nurses in health care settings by assisting them to develop the skills necessary to respond to emerging medical and technological shifts being witnessed in contemporary times (Smith, 2003), and also by elevating their professional status in the provision of current and ultimately safe and effective patient care (Tilley, 2008). CNE must be made mandatory as nurses are expected to base their profession on ever-evolving evidence-based practices which can only be identified, practiced, and internalized through reading current journal articles, attending seminars, and enrolling in professional improvement courses. Furthermore, it is generally believed that CNE could significantly assist nurses in key competency areas of assessment and intervention, communication, critical thinking, human caring relationships, management, and leadership (Tilley, 2008).

This paper has discussed the benefits and drawbacks of CNE, as well as taken a position that CNE should be made mandatory for all nurses because it assists them to develop various competencies. However, care should be taken to ensure that CNE translates into real benefits for nurses in terms of impact on competency.


McCarthy, A., & Evans, D.S. (2003). A study on the impact of continuing education for nurses and midwives who completed post-registration courses. Web.

Ousey, K., & Roberts, D. (2013). Improving access to CPD for nurses: The uptake of online provision. British Journal of Community Nursing, 18(2), 78-83.

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Smith, J. (2003). Exploring the value of continuing education mandates. Web.

Tilley, D.D.S. (2008). Competency in nursing: A concept analysis. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 39(2), 58-64.

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