Refresher Courses for Nurses: Course Descriptions

Refresher courses for nurses help licensed practical nurses and registered nurses maintain their certification through required continuing education (CE) units. Read on for essential information and course descriptions.

Essential Information

Nursing refresher courses are designed to prepare inactive nurses for reentry into the healthcare workforce. They are also available to active nurses who want to update their skills and earn CE units for certification renewal. Refresher courses are available for both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Both program levels follow a similar 2-phase structure consisting of educational and clinical components.

Here are some common concepts you can expect to see in nursing refresher courses:

  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing equipment and techniques
  • Health assessment
  • IV therapy
  • Career transition

List of Refresher Courses for Nurses

Didactic Nursing Refresher Course

Generally, curricula of nursing refresher programs aren't broken down into definite subject areas. Instead, all subjects are covered in one didactic, or theoretical, classroom course. Because students have already completed nursing school, the focus of nursing refresher programs is on the most recent developments in medical care and nursing management. Lecture topics may include pain management, nutrition, medical legal issues, hospice care, medical terminology, surgical updates, wound care, and home health care, among others

Nursing refresher courses that are designed to meet academic credential requirements for state licensure also cover state laws and regulations regarding the profession. This portion of the nursing refresher program can take several months to complete.

Clinical Course

Following successful completion of the classroom component, which usually includes an examination, students complete a supervised clinical practicum at a hospital or long-term care facility. The community college or university running the refresher course usually assists students in obtaining a position at a nearby medical facility, and some allow students to secure their own positions in accordance with their interests or career aspirations. The clinical component gives students the opportunity to put their sharpened skills and new medical knowledge to use in a direct patient care setting. Clinical supervisors evaluate the overall performance of students and make sure that students are applying their new skill set. Most refresher programs require students to complete roughly 80-150 hours of clinical work.

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