Lifelong Learning As A Nurse

Sep 7, 2020 | Aussie Nurse

On the path to become an Enrolled nurse, Registered nurse or a Midwife, each role must complete formal education to first learn theory in class and than foundational skills on placements that lead to employment in the future


After practising in nursing for some years taking a moment to pause is important because healthcare as a whole is evolving so fast.

There are constant changes in the way we work especially with new technologies i.e. –

  • Advances in Equipment- A bit old school but mercury thermometers no longer exist in clinical areas
  • Advances in Medications – Improvements in insulin therapies & changes in insulin administration such as insulin pumps
  • Changes in Practice – Reducing the misuse and over use of antibiotics due to antibiotic resistance 



After completing foundational formal education to become a health care professional and to stay up-to-date with new workplace practices, continuing education also known as life long learning helps with informal learning such as professional development. 


Continuing Professional Development (CPD)-

CPD is the means by which members of the professions maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, and develop the personal and professional qualities needed throughout their professional lives. (  – 2020)

At work we randomly experience so much on the job on a everyday basis but without life long learning it could become easy to plateau and learning topics that are unfamiliar may become more challenging as time passes. 

Depending on the nurses or midwifes type of registration a minimum amount of development hours need to be met on a yearly basis. Lifelong learning is a practice or even a habit as to not pursue understanding of new developments through learning will not allow for new skills and knowledge. I probably don’t have to tell you that a “we’ve always done it this way” is frustrating to hear in the workplace. 

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere”

— Chinese Proverb

Benefits Of Lifelong Learning-

Nurses are well known for critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, the benefit lifelong learning gives is by transferring our knowledge to practice and build on managing real-life situations that happen in the workplace. 

Lifelong learning is very personal as a person may identify areas for improvement in themselves and then go on to learn the new skills and knowledge they want to gain. By having personal goals we can focus on specific topics that we are interested in and work at our own pace as we all have our own learning styles.

Also, on a personal level learning increases confidence, self esteem and that growth feels great especially when using these skills or even better teaching what you have learnt to another person.

Further learning increases career opportunities as you may have the skills an organisation is looking for and when in a job interview presenting these skills may be the advantage to get you that job you want.


Resources Nurses Use To Learn-

  • Reading- books, journals & professional articles 
  • Workplace competencies 
  • Attending various courses- both online & in-house
  • Attending seminars 
  • Reflection- independently or learning from one another by engaging in conversations around topics of interest
  • Online webinars
  • Podcasts and Videos



A bonus of attending in-house courses, conferences or seminars is the great way to grow your network, meeting people who have the same interests as you may give an opportunity to share perspectives on notes or experiences.



As healthcare is changing so quickly something we may have learnt a few years ago might now be seen as out-dated and new practices may be put into place. Unlearning is kind of like ‘spring cleaning’ its a bit hard but its about letting go of any ingrained practices and allowing space for new learnings, the benefit of unlearning is that it makes you adaptable.



As healthcare is consistently changing and being innovative, lifelong learning allows us professionally to stay updated and current. It is personal to the individual as they can choose on what to focus their learning on and this constant learning helps a person to grow and enrich their own journey within this profession.


Resources –

– Fact sheet: Continuing professional development-

(Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash)



“Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses…. We must be learning all of our lives”

– Florence Nightingale 

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