Though experienced nurses learn so much on the job from their clients, the profession also requires that nurses in the Dubuque area and elsewhere keep on taking a certain number of classes to stay current on procedures and as well as new research into everything from hospice care standards to general safety procedures and best practices.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Care and Hospice looks forward to receiving their continuing education credits. This is a chance for them to go ‘back to school’ and gain new knowledge, whether they’re recent graduates or have been in the workplace for years.
Certainly the hands-on training they get every day is valuable, but there are plenty of seminars, classes, and activities in the community that can be useful, and sometimes even fun.
Some of these are good refreshers for topics and subjects they may have learned in the past, sometimes there are new standards of care that can be explained and demonstrated.
For instance, the “rules” of basic procedures like CPR have been modified several times over the last few years, including less mouth breathing more, faster chest compressions. Though what you learned in nursing school years may still work, there may be new standards and new tools that can be more effective.
Another change has taken place in the areas of infection control.
The COVID pandemic was undoubtedly a driver of this, as healthcare providers and patients had to learn new safety procedures quickly and ways to reduce or remove contamination. But many were already practicing some of these behaviors as a general precaution, such as using gloves and masks.
Today, many nurses and other health care professionals continue some of these practices and precautions since they seem effective against other infectious diseases like the flu, not just COVID. The nurses don’t want to get sick and they don’t want their clients to get sick either.
It’s likely that current and future continuing education courses will touch on topics such as post-COVID infection control, now that we’re all more aware of how rapidly viruses and other infections can spread over contaminated surfaces or through the air.
But there are still clients who have challenging medical conditions or who are especially concerned about their vulnerable immune systems. Others still may want to wear masks and be around people who wear them. A class or seminar with current information about these topics may be able to discuss how to handle this kind of situation and keep everyone safer.
A big part of helping our clients is understanding what’s happening to them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
All of them may have certain conditions that have led to loved ones requesting home health care services for them. Often they have forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that increasingly makes it difficult for someone to take care of themselves.
Alzheimer’s is especially challenging since, while the general progression follows the same patterns, it can be a little different in everyone who has been diagnosed with it. There may be different symptoms and a different length of time between stages.
Mental and physical performance can be unpredictable in people with Alzheimer’s disease as it progresses, from simply forgetting a few details to being able to speak, eat, or process information.
People with Alzheimer’s also may have other medical conditions, such as a stroke. At advanced stages, they may not be aware of their surroundings. So a nurse wanting to work with these types of clients must be familiar with not only dementia but how dementia could be affected by other conditions.
Another reason for continuing education is that research into Alzheimer’s disease keeps increasing and changing. What someone may have learned in nursing school a decade ago may be replaced by more updated information.
Part of the challenge in education is that a good deal of research continues to take place into all aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, from possible causes and early conditions and warning signs to more information about what happens to the brain cells and the rest of the body.
Organizations that focus on these types of medical conditions encourage continuing education in all medical fields.
The Alzheimer’s Association, for instance, offers a wide variety of training and re-training programs for people in the medical field who need refreshers or additional or current information. This includes nurses, mental health providers, researchers, nurses, physicians, and physician assistants.
The association also organizes regular conferences where people in the field can network and meet other professionals with similar interests and focus and hear top experts in the field. The next Alzheimer’s Association International Conference is in June in Amsterdam.
Online seminars and training modules are also available for those who want to study on the weekends or after work. Some caregivers may even have the opportunity to study on the job.
In addition, the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners also offers other educational resources and certifications for those who work in this field. The council also organizes Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Staff Week, which runs Feb. 14-21, and encourages people in the field to use the opportunity to brush up on their skills.