How do I Choose the Best Healthcare Continuing Education Courses?

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  • Originally Written By: Lisa Cox
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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Choosing the best healthcare continuing education courses is usually a matter of determining what sorts of credits you need in your job, then thinking about how you want to earn them. Different fields within the medical profession have different requirements, and the rules can also be different from place to place. There are also usually a number of ways to take these sorts of courses. Sometimes they’re available in seminar format, often in the evenings, and can last for a few weeks or more; others are condensed into weekend conferences or are streamed online. Some are accredited, which means that the course content has been reviewed and approved in advance by some sort of regulatory body, while others are not. Your employer might only accept certain sorts of courses, so it’s important to check into this in advance. It’s also important to keep in mind that the classes that are best for you might not be best for everyone. A lot of this is subjective and depends on individual circumstances.


Course Requirements Generally

Healthcare workers in most countries are required to earn continuing education credits on a regular basis, often annually or bi-annually. New procedures, equipment, and medications are continuously being developed, and professionals must continue to learn if they are to provide the best care for their patients. There are usually a lot of different courses to choose from, though. In most cases classes are intended for specific audiences — neurosurgeons, say, or pediatric nurses — but other times they are more general, and the credits might transfer across disciplines. In order to know for sure, you need to have researched what your specific job requires, and what the course you’re considering will offer.

Know What Kind of Credits You Need

The first question you should ask yourself is what sorts of credits you need. Usually, you need a certain type of class to fulfill your licensing requirements. Your employer should be able to give you this information, and it should also be readily available from whatever authority granted you your license in the first place.

There are many different kinds of healthcare continuing education credits, and they can vary by country and even local jurisdiction. In the United States, the four primary types are the general continuing education unit (CEU), the American Medical Association Physician's Recognition Award (AMA PRA) credits, and continuing nurse education credits (CNE). Certain specialties, such as emergency room health care and pharmacy, have additional requirements and categories.

Think About the Different Settings

Another thing for you to consider is how the courses are offered. Depending on your own flexibility and availability, it might make the most sense to take a course online, or to attend a local university or hospital’s lectures in the evenings. You will probably also be able to find courses that offer material condensed into long weekend seminars, often in desirable or convenient locations.

Your preference is usually the most important factor, but you’ll also want to do a bit of research into what is specifically required in your situation. Some licensing authorities will only accept a certain number of credits earned online, for instance, or may require a certain number of different subject matter areas to be covered in order for the courses to count towards your quota.

Importance of Accreditation

Another really important thing to look for when choosing a healthcare continuing education course is whether it is accredited. Some organizations won’t accept credits from non-accredited organizations, which means that any work you do to earn the credits won’t count, at least not officially. Non-accredited programs often also have a commercial interest in the material being presented. Nearly all organizations that deal with accreditation are very serious about being free of commercial influence. The idea is to get the best information possible, not to promote certain views on a product or to support a medicine offered by a company with a vested stake in the program.


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