Why Lifelong Learning is Important for Nurses

Competing in the Nursing Job Market

Increasing my level of education will positively impact my ability to compete in the current job market, as IOM Future of Nursing recommendations clearly state that it wants to see more nurses engaging in lifelong learning, double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020, and to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80% by 2020. All in all, the nursing field wants more nurses with more education, which means that in order for me to compete with others, I need to show a commitment to furthering my education and even so far as to go the distance and earn a doctorate, which would place me in a good position to compete in the market.

By increasing my level of education, I can boost my role in the future of nursing by being more knowledgeable of the field, which will happen through lifelong learning exercises which I am desiring to partake of (Davis, Taylor, Reyes, 2014). Being a successful, educated nurse with a high degree of learning and education is to be good leader in the field. And being a good leader in the field is about empowering both yourself and others, through the spread of knowledge and through the productive and positive setting of good examples in the workforce (Taerzioglu et al., 2013). Such leadership can come through continued education but also from on-the-job training, as in the development of such skills as empathy, which can go a long way in the successful management of a ward or station. Empathy is an effective tool that can be learned in the classroom through the studying of various theoretical approaches to nursing — but it is also something that must be put into practice in the actual field.

Thus, education prepares the nurse to put into practice the tools, knowledge and theories gleaned from the classroom. These tools enable the nurse to be more competitive in the job market, as they are essentially his or her assets that allow the nurse to stand out and to stand apart from the others, as someone who has uniquely honed abilities and traits that can be put effectively to use within that specific job market, hospital, or agency. These are the tools that allow the nurse to go even beyond ideas such as empathy and caring to rise to a potential level of professionalism at which there is no differentiation between the ideal of nursing and the individual who is practicing as a nurse in the field. There is, in short, an eradication of self, and a dispensing of the individual student — and in the place of the old self, the professional nurse is given ground. The professional, of course, has to come from a background of higher education in order to reach that level of immersion and pro-activity — but that is the point of higher education: to grow and develop the skills of the nurse practitioner so that there is a completeness of character, professionalism, theory, articulation, action, knowledge and care (Blaschke, 2012).

Thus, I see myself fitting into the IOM Future of Nursing Recommendations in the following manner: I will definitely have a baccalaureate by 2020 so I will be in good position to compete for a nursing job at that time. I am also very interested in committing to lifelong learning as this is a good way to grow as a nurse and to keep key concepts and developments fresh and at the top of the mind so as to be able to better engage as a nurse in an ever-changing and evolving field. I am also interested in obtaining a doctorate and though I may not achieve that objective by 2020, it is at least a path that I can set myself toward so that I can be on that track with the next few years. Being on such a track would position me very well, especially if more and more nurses are also going to be positioning themselves to obtain higher degrees such as a doctorate. If the number of nurses with doctorates doubles within the next four to five years, it would behoove me to be of that number so as to better position myself to be a candidate for hire who hospitals and agencies would look at with positivity.

Plus, if I achieve a doctorate level of education in the next few years, I can be better positioned than the 80% of nurses who only have a baccalaureate degree — which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but if the market is moving towards higher and better educational levels, then the professional nurse must move with it and that is what I see myself doing.

Lifelong learning is thus the key to being competitive in tomorrow’s nursing job market. It is this kind of dedication that organizations want to see in the nurses of the future and it is for this reason that I am preparing myself to rise to the challenge that these organizations are setting out. If the challenge is met and the achievement of lifelong learning can be had, then it will be a full life that I will be able to look back upon — a life dedicated to assisting others through the implementation of the skills and tools I will have learned through the years. It will be a rewarding life, too, because it will not have been one that was primarily oriented towards fulfillment of self but rarely oriented towards the goal of fulfilling others. That is really what the object of lifelong learning is all about: giving yourself over to a cause, an idea, a pursuit that is meant to make you stronger and more effective in your leadership/nursing position — so that you can shine as a beacon of professionalism, empathy, knowledge and ability for both other nurses and also for patients and clients who are under your care. To reach that level of engagement is my overall goal — and if I work towards that, there can be no doubt that I will have a substantial part to play in the nursing field of the future.


Blaschke, L. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1): 4-11.

Davis, L., Taylor, H., Reyes, H. (2014). Lifelong learning in nursing: A Deplhi study.

Nurse Education Today, 34(3): 441-445.

Terzioglu, F. et al. (2013). Use of simulation in Nursing Education. Journal of Curriculum and Teaching, 2(1): 34-41.

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