Continuing education makes up a vital part of the nursing skill repertoire. Nurses across the country must obtain state-set continuing education units (CEUs) to renew their licenses, reports Medscape.org, and depending on employer, some CEUs, like CPR, Bloodborne pathogens (BBP), BLS, and First Aid, may have more stringent regulations. For example, CPR courses may need to be renewed every two years. Although the majority of course materials and standards remain the same, governing bodies, such as the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, update the course concepts and recommendations periodically. Look no further than how CPR and BLS standards have evolved since 1995.
This ensures proper training and continuity of care across the country. Unfortunately, nurses are often left to their own devices to locate CEUs and complete required courses, and in the age of the internet, it can be difficult to find free online nursing courses with a certificate.
Instead of spending countless hours searching for massive open online courses (MOOCs) to satisfy renewal requirements, health care professionals should consider these top performers for their ease of access, affordability, if not free, and schedule-conducive nature
Free Online Courses Via Medline University
Medline University is an MOOC provider with more than 250 courses available for health care professionals in need of CEUs. Courses range from health care setting standards, such as assisted living versus surgical center care, to recorded webinars.
Medline University also offers an impressive lineup of course types, including:
- American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics / Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
- International Association of Health Care Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM)
- National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards
- Courses taught in Spanish.
- Courses designed for a mobile learning experience.
- Non-CEU courses for those interested in furthering their knowledge base about health care that do not count toward CEU requirements.
- CEU offers that do not necessarily fall into the aforementioned types.
The benefits of completing a free online nursing course with certificate through Medline University go back to the ease in locating and signing up for courses. Health care professionals seeking AMCA-approved or other organization-related courses can simply select the course type and locate the desired course. Medline courses also provide enough information to make an informed decision about which course to take.
For example, those in need of a CPR, BLS, or BBP CEU are notified at the top of the page about how to access the certification exam at National Health Care Provider Solutions (NHCPS), as well as when the promo code to access the exam for free will arrive.
To sign up for a course, users need to complete the registration process, including name, contact information, facility information, and the license number. This information is necessary to ensure proper reporting of CEUs to the state-specific licensing agency. RNs and LPNs in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina will need to enter a valid license number to receive credit.
This need to link CEU courses with a nursing license seems like a minor drawback. It adds an extra step to the registration process, and those that may not have a license currently, such as individuals with an inactive license, may not be able to receive credit. This depends on the state-specific rules regarding CEU requirements for license status
OpenLearning – PAID and Free Courses Available
OpenLearning is another MOOC with more than 1,000 courses on practically any subject, even outside of health care. The vast nature of OpenLearning makes completing a review of the courses difficult at best. As a result, those in need of CEUs should use the “Search” field located at the top of the homepage to find courses that suit their needs.
For instance, a search for CPR reveals five courses focused on different CPR-related topics, including instruction, basic first aid, and CPR awareness.
Prospective students can sign up for the courses for free, but as an MOOC in multiple industries, the course creator has the option of charging for course admission. Paid courses are noted with the dollar amount located at the bottom right corner of the course tab.
Courses may run indefinitely or for a set period of time. The orange-button beneath each course serves as an additional link to join the course. However, new students will need to complete the registration process before continuing. To access courses even faster, students have the option of joining via Facebook or Guokr.com.
To ensure courses with OpenLearning are qualified CEUs, prospective students should check with their employers and look for hallmark characteristics in the course description, such as AMCA-approved.
Udemy – PAID Courses
Udemy is similar to OpenLearning, but the course selection is much larger. Udemy carries multiple approved CEU courses, ranging from NCLEX review to critical care. However, Udemy rarely offers free online nursing courses, and many courses begin at $10.99. New students may be able to take advantage of discounted rates and organizational promotions too. Of course, health care professionals may be able to encourage employers to pay for courses too. As a result, health care professionals could complete courses without seeing any true impact to their wages. This is at the discretion of each employer.
BMJ Learning – PAID Courses Without an Employer-BMA Access Code
BMJ Learning is another option for health care professionals needing CEUs. Unlike other MOOCs, BMJ utilizes an organization-led approach to offering free courses. In other words, users will need their employer’s BMA Access code to obtain free courses. Without an access code, users have two options, paying monthly or obtaining an annual membership.
BMJ is also located abroad, so subscription costs are listed in British Pounds (£). For reference, £1 is equal to $1.34. A monthly subscription will cost approximately $13.40. The annual rate depends on profession, which include the following:
- Doctors – £95 or $127.41
- Students – £34 or $45.60
- Nurse or another health care professional – £69 or $92.53
Canvas – Numerous Free Courses
Canvas is another option for nurses and health care professionals looking for free online courses. Canvas offers a myriad course selection, ranging from nutritional to nursing courses, including BBP with a certificate. Additional courses may include psychology principles, new best practices in health, and much more. To improve diversity and educate more people, Canvas also offers classes taught in a foreign language, including:
It is important to remember that the instructing body is responsible for setting languages, so a course offered in English may not necessarily be offered in other languages.
To sign up for a course, students need to locate the course via the “Search” function or by browsing available courses. Students will need to follow the individual link to “Enroll” in a course located on the course page. While the majority of courses are free, a few may be paid courses. Students may also locate all courses related to science, technology, engineering and math, which include health care-related courses, under the “STEM” category.
The free courses are easy to identify, carrying a blue-flagged corner, emblazed with “FREE.” In addition, the course synopsis and instructing body, such as NHCPS, is identified by logo on the course synopsis as well. Even if a course has already started, students may still enroll and follow along at their own pace.
Medical Update Online – Resource for New Topics That May Be of Interest Before Enrolling in CEU Courses
MedicalUpdateOnline.com is another excellent resource for health care professionals; however, it serves as a catch-all location for important medical advice and updates to health care standards. Online course offerings are rare and limited to the time specified per course. As a result, it may not be an appropriate choice for nurses enrolling in an online CEU course, but it can serve as an excellent starting point for identifying the topics that are most-pressing in health care.
For example, the update on personalized cancer treatments touches on the importance of thorough assessments of the whole person, including the mind and psychology. Thus, nurses may be more inclined to look for psychology-based courses involving oncology best practices. Such courses may be accessed through actual MOOCs, like Canvas or Medline University.
Medical Update Online does require users to register for an account before reading any full article. This helps to funnel web traffic and ensure access to new information to qualified health professionals.
Mayo Clinic – Resource Including Courses and News Updates
The Mayo Clinic Medical Professionals’ Updates section is comparable to the Medical Update Online platform. Mayo Clinic news articles often include links to CEU courses and additional information for individuals in need of more training for a specific topic.
Staff at the prestigious health care organization also work to create countless videos focused on common and ground-breaking health topics, including:
- Regenerative Medicine
- Psychiatry and Psychology
- Medical Research
- Digestive Diseases and More.
Unfortunately, these videos and resources may not include a certificate, but depending on state laws, an employer may be able to use such materials as part of mandatory CEUs. Moreover, an employer could require non-certificate CEUs, so the resources at the Mayo Clinic and Medical Update Online may satisfy these requirements. Prospective students should check with their employers regarding eligibility under this circumstance. Even though these resources may not include a certificate, it is never too late to learn more about health care, and through better health care, you could save someone’s life too.
American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) – Medical Updates Built for Those in Anesthesiology-Related Positions
Using Medical Update Online and the Mayo Clinic may be effective, but these resources can be troublesome when searching for a specific care setting information, particularly anesthesiology. The ASA has an online MOOC/ article-based resource for this purpose. Each “update” includes a synopsis of new recommendations, evidence-based practice guidelines, printable recommendations, and information for responding to different events. This does include health setting activities, like responding to cardiac arrest following procedural sedation.
Users also have an online library of podcasts and videos at their disposal for learning more about key considerations and new topics in anesthesiology care. The ASA also publishes interactive infographics and resources too. However, interactive resources are time-limited, so users looking for an interactive experience should check the page often.
Medscape Academy and Critical Care
Medscape Critical Care takes the benefits of the Mayo Clinic, Medical Update Online, and the ASA to a higher level, offering countless articles, slideshows, and interactive courses. MOOC courses can vary heavily, ranging from learning about legal liability in health care to best practices for physicians in private practice.
Medscape’s Academy MOOC is the most extensive for Physicians, but the information is of use to all health care professionals. In addition, most Medscape Academy include a free, printable certificate. Users do not need to register for courses. Information for obtaining the certificate is available upon completing the examination at the end of the course.
Get Started With Your Free Online Nursing Courses With Certificates Today
Finding free online nursing courses with a certificate should not be an endless, stressful journey. By visiting the aforementioned MOOCs, you can get the CEUs you need to provide better care, improve treatment outcomes, and save lives. What are you waiting for?
Sign up for your free courses at Medline, and don’t forget to come back to NHCPS to complete the skills test for your free certificate. Do you have another MOOC or free CEU resource that you use? Share it and this article online to social media now, and become a better health care professional in the process!
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