Earning continuing education (CE) credit is necessary in virtually any healthcare occupation. In a perfect world, employers pick up the full cost of CE credit at and allow employees to pick the most interesting and relevant courses.
In reality, many workers pay for continuing education out-of-pocket. Although maintaining licensure (and thus, employment) is a necessary investment, it can take a bite out of your personal budget. Whether you’re making the case to get your CE expenses approved by the boss or trying to find the best bang for your own buck, there are more ways than ever to be efficient with your CE dollar.
Pennywise, Dollar Foolish
Nobody wants to skimp on gas or food in order to get required CE credits, but experts caution against using cost as the only benchmark.
“Although there is clearly an upfront cost involved, return on investment is much greater in terms of one’s commitment to the industry, staying on top of latest research, market trends and the newest technology tools – as well as enhancing/elevating their ability to deliver services to their clients,” said Anna Shnayder, director of professional development for the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.
Rather than searching the Internet for “cheap CE courses,” start by researching the offerings of your discipline’s professional society. Often one of the perks of belonging to an association is access to discounted or free CE courses.
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The American Dental Hygienist Association, for instance, offers online courses awarding 1 to 2 hours of CE credits free of charge. And the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society allows members who pilot test their courses prior to official release to earn free CEs.
The Price of Free
Free CEs from local or national chapters of accredited societies are a great perk, but experts recommend due diligence when considering free CEs from outside providers. If you’re considering going that route, check to ensure that the course is being taught by a qualified instructor. It doesn’t hurt to contact your profession’s accrediting body before enrolling either, to make sure the course will actually count for credit. After all, it’s not only beyond frustrating to be denied credit for a course, but a valuable learning opportunity may be missed.
“As healthcare professionals, we must consistently invest in ourselves as lifelong learning is a must,” Shnayder said.
Healthcare Media Offerings
Your professional magazines and journals may also offer CE credit via articles they publish or live events they schedule. For example, ADVANCE Healthcare Network offers CE credits to nurses and nurse practitioners on an ongoing basis. Visit advanceweb.com and link to the CE tab to obtain more information about courses and discount fee programs.
Robin Hocevar is a staff writer.