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What Nursing Refresher Courses Should I Take?

Former nurses who want to re-enter the field as well as current nurses who need to meet their state's continuing education requirements might consider nursing refresher courses. These courses are offered at colleges and universities, usually as part of the continuing education or professional development department, and can be used to help you meet state requirements for license renewal or reinstatement.

Nursing Refresher Courses Overview

In some states, you may be required to complete a nursing refresher course to have your registered nurse or licensed practical nurse license reinstated after being inactive for a certain amount of time. Some states may also let you use nursing refresher courses towards continuing education requirements that must be met to renew your license. Most state boards of nursing maintain a list of approved refresher courses that can be used to meet state requirements.

Refresher courses are designed to help you update your knowledge and skills in the field. Some courses are designed for nurses who are planning on returning to a specific area of nursing, while other courses are more general. Most programs are for nurses who have only been out of the field for around five years, but some programs may cater to nurses who have not been active for a longer period of time.

Upon completion of a nursing refresher course, you'll usually earn a certificate of completion. Many programs require completion of the course within a specified time.

Important Facts about This Area of Study

Common Courses Nursing trends of the 21st century, cultural competence, wound care, IV therapy
Prerequisites In addition to standard prerequisites, a minimum amount of nursing experience may be required
Online Availability Some select schools
Possible Careers Registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner
Median Salary (2020) $75,330 (for all registered nurses)
Job Growth (2019-2029) 7% (for all registered nurses)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Course Eligibility Requirements

While course requirements may vary, schools typically require you to hold an active nursing license or to have held a license in the past. You may also be required to pass a criminal background check and drug test. Some schools may require you to have health insurance and be certified in CPR. Schools may impose additional requirements, such as previous education or specific work experience hours.

Course Contents

The length of nursing refresher courses varies, but they may range from about 80 hours to over 170 hours. Some may be offered online, while others include clinical work that must be done on-site. Common topics covered in a course include legal responsibilities, ethics, pharmacology, patient assessment and nursing theory. Some courses may cover topics in specialty areas of nursing, such as gerontology and psychiatric-mental health nursing.