Free Online Nursing Courses You Can Take Right Now

Daniel Bal, MS.Ed
by
Updated April 4, 2024
Edited by
    Learn something new and strengthen old skills with these free online nursing courses and continuing education opportunities.
    Featured ImageCredit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Are you considering a career in nursing? Looking to enrich your existing nursing skill set? Get started by taking a free online nursing course from the comfort of your home.

    Some online nursing courses cover the same topics as traditional college courses, but without the cost. Universities offer these opportunities to connect interested students with additional courses or programs. Free online nursing courses can also keep professionals on top of developments in the nursing field.

    Popular Online MSN Programs

    Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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    Not Your Grandpa’s Stroke: Recognizing Acute Stroke in the Young Adult

    American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

    This recorded online nursing course covers the incidence, symptoms, treatment, and stroke prevention among patients under 50. Among young adults, strokes present with different symptoms than among older patients, and clinical staff may not consider stroke as a cause of their symptoms. Completion results in 1.4 hours of CE credits. Before the course, you must complete a pre-reading article on implicit bias in nursing. The course expires December 31, 2024.


    How Do Viruses Cause Infection

    American Nurses Association (ANA)

    This online course is a collaboration between the ANA and Project Firstline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Training Collaborative for Healthcare Infection Prevention & Control. Nurses can earn 0.75 continuing education credit hours for completing this course. The opportunity to earn credits expires June 8, 2025.

    The online course reviews the current science of viral infection and how this applies to nursing practice. Learners refresh their understanding of how viruses cause disease and how to use this knowledge to prevent infections.


    See You Now: Focus on Health Equity

    American Nurses Association (ANA)

    This course offers four hours of continuing education credits. The credits expire on December 15, 2024.

    The course consists of a set of four podcasts from nurses and organizations addressing health equity. This includes a nurse practitioner (NP) describing how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, experts in preventing Black maternal mortality, a pandemic start-up that offers health screenings for people experiencing homelessness, and a chief diversity officer on partnering with faith-based organizations. Participants can learn about how to establish practices that promote equity.


    See You Now: Focus on Mental Health

    American Nurses Association (ANA)

    This course, which offers four hours of continuing education credit through four podcasts, expires on June 30, 2025. The topics include implementing “The Pause,” an approach to help staff maintain personal equilibrium and honor their work after a patient dies; how two NPs set up online psychiatry and therapy office in just 45 days to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health and access; a nurse executive on building a new organizational hierarchy and culture based on love; and a group of experts on nursing burnout. Learners gain a deeper understanding of mental health and how to foster it as nurses.


    The Concept of Infection Control

    American Nurses Association (ANA)

    This online course was developed by the ANA and Project Firstline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Training Collaborative for Healthcare Infection Prevention & Control. It briefly covers the fundamentals of infection control and Project Firstline’s goals in preventing infections. The course offers 0.5 credit hours. The opportunity to earn continuing education credits expires September 1, 2025.


    Introduction to Integrative Nursing

    Coursera, University of Minnesota

    This course comprises videos, readings, and quizzes and takes approximately 16 hours to complete. Topics include the principles of integrative nursing and how to incorporate the principles, strategies, and assessments in nursing practice. The course has had over 7,000 participants as of December 2023, with an average course rating of 4.7 out of five points.

    Please note that while the Minnesota Board of Nursing has approved the course for 12 continuing education hours, the structure may not meet the guidelines for all boards. Subtitled versions are available in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (European), Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.


    Supporting Families and Caregivers

    Coursera, Stanford University

    This self-paced online nursing course from Stanford University takes approximately 10 hours. It is part of a series of courses on palliative care focusing on how professional carers can support families and other caregivers. It especially focuses on the needs of patients’ children. Students can pay for a certificate of completion. The program is available in eight languages. Video subtitles are available in 14 additional languages, but the quality of the translation is not guaranteed.

    This online nursing course has not been reviewed for CE credits.


    NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

    This course from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health explores the risks associated with working long hours. Participants learn to identify the health and safety risks of long shifts and develop workplace strategies to combat these negative effects.

    The self-paced program comprises 12 modules split into two parts. Part one focuses on identifying problems related to shift work and long hours, while the second part presents risk reduction strategies. Each module takes 5-20 minutes to complete. The entire program is less than four hours long.

    Participants earn 1.7 contact hours for completing the training.


    Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

    Each module in this CDC training course helps nurses recognize and prevent violence in the workplace. Participants learn to recognize risk factors, identify behavioral warning signs, and carry out a workplace violence prevention program.

    The self-paced course consists of 13 15-minute modules and lasts approximately three hours in total. Modules examine the consequences of workplace violence, risk factors, and prevention strategies for organizations and nurses alike.

    Participants earn 2.4 contact hours upon completion.


    Nursing Studies – Diet Therapy

    Alison, US Army Medical Center of Excellence

    This course from the US Army Medical Center of Excellence offers strategies for incorporating diet therapy into treatment plans. Nurses learn to create specialized diets for patients. They explore the importance of therapeutic dieting, especially when treating digestive disorders and diseases.

    The course’s two modules focus on seven topics and take 1.5-3 hours to complete. Course topics include reasons for therapeutic dieting, standard hospital diets, and nurses’ roles in diet therapy.

    Upon completion, participants get a certificate to share with potential or current employers.


    Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics

    Coursera, University of Cape Town

    Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics presents methods for interpreting clinical research results. Ideal for anyone who reads clinical literature, the course introduces common terms and concepts in statistics. Participants gain broader insight into statistical analysis and hypothesis testing.

    The 27-hour course is six weeks long, and learners spend 3-6 hours on lessons each week. The curriculum focuses on defining study types, describing data, and understanding statistical analysis. It also teaches hypothesis testing, appropriate test selection, and analyzing the accuracy of results.

    Individuals who complete the free course may purchase an optional certificate of completion. The course has not been reviewed for CE credit eligibility.


    The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age

    Future Learn, The Medical Research Council Versus Arthritis Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing

    The Medical Research Council Versus Arthritis Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Aging developed this course for anyone wondering why bones, joints, and muscles deteriorate due to age. Course participants gain a better understanding of how exercise and diet benefit the musculoskeletal system.

    The self-paced program requires three hours of study per week for a total of three weeks. Course content addresses the ways in which age, physical activity, and diet affect the musculoskeletal system. Participants also explore the impact of musculoskeletal aging on both society and the individual’s quality of life.

    Individuals who finish the course may purchase a certificate of completion.


    Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us

    Coursera, University of Pennsylvania

    Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us explores the physiological and anatomical processes behind basic bodily functions. Ideal for current and prospective healthcare professionals, the course takes a holistic look at what underlies vital signs. It also offers effective measurement strategies.

    The 13-hour course from the University of Pennsylvania is self-paced and typically takes six weeks. Each week focuses on a single vital sign, including pulse/heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, temperature, respiration rate, and pain.

    After finishing the course, participants can purchase a certificate of completion.


    Nursing Informatics Training and Education

    Coursera, University of Michigan

    This intermediate-level online nursing course from the University of Minnesota is self-paced and takes approximately 21 hours to complete. It has a participant ranking of 4.8 out of five possible points. The curriculum covers how to teach nursing informatics and includes mentoring and coaching skills and how to develop formal education classes and resources. The course is available in eight languages, and the video content is available in 13 additional languages. While the course is free, you can pay for a certificate of completion.


    Structural Racism in Healthcare

    Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

    The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) developed its course on structural racism in healthcare to help professionals understand health inequities. Lessons explore the ways disease may be racialized and how racism affects patient care.

    Participants explore the complex relationships among health, science, and race through the lens of current events. ENA holds ANCC accreditation as a continuing professional development provider for nurses, and participants qualify for one AMA PRA Category 1 credit. Access expires October 8, 2026.


    How to Taper Patients off of Chronic Opioid Therapy

    edX, Stanford University

    This one-hour continuing education course is intended for healthcare professionals, including primary care practitioners and those specializing in fields like oncology, psychology, and addiction medicine. Using case studies, participants weigh the risks of taking opioids against the benefits as they learn to safely and effectively taper patients off of pain medication.

    Class topics include preparing patients for tapering, determining the signs of addiction disorder, and providing patients with pain management alternatives.

    Those who complete the course receive AMA PRA Category 1 credits.


    Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Interprofessional Strategies for Prevention and Response

    edX, University of Michigan, University System of Maryland, University of Maryland Baltimore

    This self-paced online nursing course from the University of Michigan, University System of Maryland, and University of Maryland Baltimore is designed for healthcare or social work professionals. It outlines how to identify signs of potential intimate partner violence (IPV), screen for IPV, and respond in clinical practice settings.

    The online nursing course typically takes five weeks to complete, with 2-3 hours of work each week. You can pay for a verified certificate of completion. The program and video transcript are only available in English.