Webinars Offer RNs CEU and Educational Opportunities
April 16th, 2012
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
As you know if you read this blog with any regularity, I like to find opportunities for free education money and free continuing education credits (CEUs). There are lots of options out there for both and we should all take advantage.
In the world of CEUs there is a relatively new way to earn those coveted hours or credits—webinars. Many nursing organizations and healthcare based businesses offer CEUs through either active participation or simply viewing a webinar. And, if you aren’t familiar with the webinar it can make taking advantage of these offers much more difficult.
I will admit, I took part in my first webinar less than a year ago—and it didn’t go so well. To be truthful, I barely made it to the course due to technical difficulties and lack of forethought. With that in mind, let’s look at how to best take advantage of these opportunities for professional development.
What Is A Webinar
The word “webinar” is short for web-based seminar. It’s just like attending any meeting, with a topic, a speaker, an audience, and usually a question and answer session. The difference is you take part from in front of your computer. These sessions are also called virtual workshops or webcasts but they are all the same thing.
Many nursing education webinars are free, sponsored by the organization putting them on. The trick is finding or making time to attend. They are certainly more interactive if you take part in the live session and if you have a question, that is the time to get them answered. However, many companies record the webinars and make them available for viewing at your convenience. This offers a great opportunity to catch up on learning in your free time.
Is It a Webinar Worth Attending?
Many web-based seminars require participants to register to attend. How do you decide if this webinar is right for you, particularly if it is a live offering?
- Topics and Speakers – I know it sounds obvious but find out if the topic is really relevant to you and your needs. If you are taking part because you are collecting CEUs this may be very important. Some states require a certain number of CEUs be on specific topics relevant to your area of nursing. If you have limited time, you may not want to spend it on topics that don’t help you reach your goal. Also, look at the information about the sponsors, some webinars may be more focused on sales than education.
- Interaction – Not all sessions offer the opportunity to interact with the presenter. This may or may not be important to you depending on the nature of the session, the topic, etc. But with smaller audiences, being able to ask a question either through audio or text chat features can be a plus, and also allow you to network with other attendees.
- Certificates of Completion – For busy working nurses, finding time for CEUs is often a struggle. If you find a webinar you want to attend and you are collecting CEUs, make sure they are being offered. While many corporate sponsored webinars do offer CEUs, some do not. CEUs offered by nursing education sites and nursing organizations are usually tied to contact hours.
- Time Zones – If attending the webinar live is important to you, before you register make sure you know what time it is scheduled for. And, make sure you do any time conversions necessary to make sure you are available. It would be a shame to miss a 9 a.m. webinar from a Washington D.C. provider because you live in California and didn’t realize you need to be up at 6 a.m. to attend.
When you have decided on attending a specific webinar make sure to put it on your calendar! Like attending any other meeting or symposium, block out the time to attend and make it a priority.
Preparing to Participate
Before the day of the webinar there are several things you should do and plan for to make the experience as problem free as possible.
- Review Your Registration – Confirm any details about what you might need to access the session on the date and time it is scheduled to occur. This information will likely include a URL, which may be specific to you, a login and password, and depending on the system used you may also find a phone number required to call into a conference line for the audio portion of the presentation.
- Conduct a Technical Check – There are different web conferencing systems (e.g., WebEx, Blackboard Collaborate, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect) available to webinar event organizers, and while all have similar features each platform has different computer requirements. Take advantage of any opportunity provided to test your equipment before a scheduled session starts. Occasionally you will be required to download an application, which can take time to accomplish and make you late for the event. Plan to log in 15 minutes early to make sure everything is working.
- Location, Location, Location – It’s all about where you live. Make sure you have a quiet place to set up your computer and actively participate in the session. Sitting in a busy computer break room at work or sitting in the kitchen at home are probably not your best choices. A headset with headphones and built-in microphone can come in handy to help block out any background noise.
- Avoid Multi-tasking – Treat the webinar just like you would if you were attending in person. Turn off your cell phone, log out of your e-mail, and give the presenters your full attention. Even though there are not other attendees to bother with your phone ringing or messages coming in, you owe it to yourself to focus and get the full intent of the meeting.
Where Are the Webinars
There are great resources available to nurses around the globe for earning CEUs and advancing your education through online webinars. To name a few:
- American Nurses Association – The ANA almost always has webinar offerings at their website. Look under their Upcoming Events page and click on the links marked as “webinar.” Their offerings are usually free to members of the ANA and require a small fee for others.
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing – The AACN has a whole section on their website dedicated to webinars. Currently, there is a four part series focusing on “Joining Forces,” First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative in conjunction with nursing to improve diagnoses and care for returning soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Medlineuniversity.com – Hospitals and clinics across the country use Medline products and this large healthcare product corporation has a large offering of educational webinars. Not all offer CEUs but some do and they are all free. It’s a great place to learn about not just products but issues that affect those of working in healthcare every day.
- Nurse.com – This website offers annual memberships for CEUs and is also a source of many free CEUs. They offers webinars on many subjects and many organizations will use their site to offer informational webinars; most recently March of Dimes offered CEUs on the site.
So there it is, Webinars 101. Do you know of some great sites to pick up CEUs or some offerings you found particularly useful—leave a comment here, share it on our Facebook page, or tweet it out to @rncentral.