8 tips for getting continuing education credits
Depending on your career, you may be required to attend continuing education (CE) classes. The premise is simple; you’ll attend a specific number of hours of CE, possibly pass a few tests, then return to your job with new knowledge and new skills.
For some career paths, this is incredibly important. For example, in the world of respiratory therapy, medical knowledge and technology change quickly; taking continuing education courses is the only way to keep up and ensure that you’re providing the best possible care for your patients.
For other careers, the benefits are more personal, giving you the potential to increase your salary, work toward a promotion, or just feel more fulfilled.
In any case, CE credits can be valuable. So what are the best ways to get them?
How to get continuing education credits
Follow these tips if you want to improve your ability to get CE credits effectively:
- Understand the requirements of your career and industry. First, make sure you understand the requirements of your career and your industry. If you’re licensed by an authoritative body, you’ll need to consult that body to find out the requirements for retaining your license. Otherwise, you may be subject to requirements laid out by your employer, a board of directors, or some other third party. Make sure you review these requirements carefully; some organizations require you to attend classes for a certain number of hours, while others have more specific needs.
- Review providers carefully. Next, make sure you review your providers carefully. There are a wide range of qualified education providers who can help you on your journey, but not all of them offer the same quality or type of education. Make sure you know who’s going to be teaching these courses, how they’re going to be taught, and what other students have thought of these courses in the past.
- Choose a format that works for you. People learn in different ways, so it pays to find a CE course style that suits your specific preferences. For example, are you the type of person who likes to get hands-on and collaborate directly with other people? If so, you’ll want to find a class or workshop that meets in person. Would you prefer to take your time and only attend courses when it’s convenient? If so, studying online may be preferable.
- Find a program with flexibility. No matter what, you’re going to be responsible for juggling both your responsibilities within your primary career and your responsibilities as a student of continuing education. This can be difficult, especially if you’re learning complicated new information or if your career is demanding. Try to find a program that offers at least some flexibility, giving you more time to earn your credits and allowing you to go at your own pace.
- Commit to learning (not just passing a test). Many people who attend CE courses are interested in the bottom line; they want to pass a test, earn a certificate, or otherwise meet the bare-minimum requirements to continue working in this career. But it’s much better for you in the long term to commit to actually learning new information. Take notes, continue studying, and take other measures to ensure you keep your retention high.
- Manage your time carefully. Your CE courses may be formally scheduled, and they may last for a fixed amount of time; for example, they may unfold across 20, 1-hour classes. However, you’ll need to account for additional studying time as well. Make sure you have a full understanding of the time requirements of this course, and budget your time wisely as you go through the phases of the course.
- Get the right documentation. At the end of the course, you’ll likely get some form of official documentation. Before you begin, make sure this documentation aligns with your organization’s CE requirements. After finishing, make sure you obtain it. These forms of documentation are often certificates, which you can present to your organization and even hang on your office wall.
- Follow up and review. After your course is over, make it a point to follow up and review your previous work. What did you learn in this class? Do you have any further questions? How is this going to help your career?
Incorporating CE into your career
Continuing education (CE) may be a formal requirement for your profession, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat it as such. CE courses aren’t meant to be revolving doors that only help you check off a box or fulfill an obligation; they’re meant to make you a better professional, and to help you learn and grow throughout your career. Treat them this way and you’ll get far more out of your experience.
Story by Darren Wilson