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Continuing education (CE) choices abound, and while time and money usually shape decisions, trying to get the most for both is a wise tactic. Most professionals pursue CE for license renewal and certification, but increasing numbers are doing so for professional growth and career advancement.

Maximize your online CE opportunities whenever possible, says Rebecca McNeil, senior education manager for HealthcareSource.

McNeil encourages joining an online learning management system that offers educational resources and e-learning opportunities. “The benefits of e-learning and webinars and being a nomadic learner are important,” she says. 

“Online training is rapidly becoming a crucial tool to offer efficient and effective CE credits,” adds Tamar Abell, executive vice president, Strategic Development, Relias Learning. 

While your organization should facilitate education, remember that CEs are a personal responsibility. Jan Wilson, vice president for Learning Design and Outcomes at Redilearning, says nurses should tap into whatever CE opportunities employers provide. 

Adds Frosini Rubertino, the founder and executive director of Training In Motion: “A culture of ongoing learning is the only way to give staff a chance at success. Look for training opportunities that are conveniently located and specific to your organization’s needs and  your staff’s professional development goals.” 

The president and CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators also places the onus on the individual.

“Obtaining CE allows staff to enrich themselves and bring great ideas back to the workplace. Ultimately, individuals are responsible for following through,” says Marianna Kern Grachek.

There are ways to convince management about CEs despite cutbacks. 

“It never hurts to have a solid plan to present to a supervisor who may provide funding, time to complete, or even career capital for you,” says Wilson. “Better, tie the CE course to an existing or needed facility initiative.” 

Elaine McGowan, vice president of clinical affairs for DermaRite, says to frame it as a business decision.

“Make the business case by showing a ROI — an immediate or tangible benefit — that management will buy into,” she recommends.

Do your homework before signing on to CE opportunities. 

“Know your resources, know the expert presenting, understand the learning objectives and ensure it’s appropriate for the level of CE you need,” Abell says.

Realize not all education credits are structured the same, adds C.C. Andrews, president and CEO of Quantum Age Collaborative.

“People should fight the temptation to just get their credits out of the way as cheaply and conveniently as possible,” she says.

Ensure the CEs you pursue meet licensure requirements for your state, whether you are a nurse, administrator or certified aide. 

“Various professions have rules and guidelines regarding the type of CE credits a professional can earn. Many times the CE topics must be associated with a body of knowledge, core competencies or be taught by a professional holding a certain credential,” warns Kim Mathis, director, Coalition for Leadership in Aging Services, University of North Texas.

Also, ensure that you take the correct ratio of CE types, such as distance vs. in-person learning, which vary from state to state, Grachek adds. 

Maximize your time and money with mindful planning. 

“As professionals, we have to make time in our calendars to refresh and learn, and doing that on the run is often a disservice,” says ACHCA’s Grachek. 

McGowan warns you may “set yourself up to fail with an overly ambitious timeframe or number of CE credits.” Redilearning’s Wilson reminds that CE is ongoing. She says, “Make sure you allow time to study throughout the year, not just when CE credits are due.” 

Mistakes to avoid

Chasing CE opportunities in haste. Procrastination, or an overly ambitious timeframe, can lead to oversights.

Not ensuring CEs meet particular license and credential requirements specific to your state.

Thinking it’s somebody else’s responsibility to find you CE opportunities. It’s yours.