Offered through both hospitals and colleges, nurse refresher programs are geared toward nurses who have been out of clinical practice for five years or more, or who are trying to renew or obtain their state nursing license. These courses help bring nurses up to speed on updated interventions, new medications, and procedures such as electronic patient records, while also giving nurses a renewed comfort level in a clinical environment.
Varied course content
“Some employers also require nurses to take a refresher course depending on how long the nurse has been away from nursing,” says Marilyn Klakovich, DNSc., RN, director of continuing education for Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. “Our nurse refresher is a month-and-a-half-long program that allows nurses the opportunity to perform and practice fundamental nursing procedures in a skills lab prior to a clinical rotation assignment. Nurses also have the chance to work with RN preceptors in med-surg nursing units to enhance their knowledge and upgrade their competency in clinical skills.”
Klakovich says nurses should look for refresher programs that offer content on pharmacology and current treatment for common medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart and pulmonary diseases) as well as content on current practice laws, ethics and legal updates. Most refresher programs also offer a skills lab where nurses can practice patient assessment.
Online classes also available
For nurses who have been away from nursing, a refresher program offers the chance to hone experience and confidence in a supportive environment. Many universities, including South Dakota State University, offer the theory portion of the nurse refresher program online and allow nurses to complete the clinical component of the program in their home community. The cost of the South Dakota State University program is $700 and is composed of 120 hours of theory and a minimum of 80 hours of supervised clinical. Michigan State University and the University of Delaware also offer online nurse refresher courses. Refresher programs can range in price from $500 to $2000 depending on the length of the course and content.
Klakovich says that before choosing a nurse refresher program, nurses should consider factors such as whether they prefer an online or classroom setting, and if they feel more comfortable in an independent precepted clinical experience in a med-surg unit or if they would work better as part of clinical group with an instructor.
Also before signing up for a nurse refresher course, inquire about the rate of nurses who have secured employment after completing the program, and whether the local hospital reimburses the cost of the refresher program after hiring graduates. Call your state board of nursing to research any state-specific regulations on nurse refresher programs and to obtain recommendations for local refresher programs.
© Health Callings, Dice Holdings Inc., 2013