Guest blogger: Barbara Bond-Howard, MA, CTRS/R, CDP, CADDCT
Hiking is like getting CEUs. You need to plan where you are going and then look forward to the adventure.
Continuing education can be fun. For many it is a necessity that must be completed in order to stay a certified therapist. But I’ve found that getting quality CEUs is what has prevented my burnout in our field.
It takes quite a bit of perseverance to make it past 5 years in our field. We are motivators and healthcare is constantly changing. For some, adding the requirement of getting 50 hours of education every 5 years is a burden. I hope you aren’t one of them. I’m sure reading Danny’s monthly newsletter keeps you motivated and you are getting new ideas for CEUs.
When I designed my RecreationTherapyElearning.com website, it was designed for my students in my live learning classes. It was a chance to learn more on what we couldn’t cover in a one day course. But it has grown to more than my “live learners “ and I’m thrilled. I simply can’t get everywhere I’d like to teach. Our mission is to: “ educate Recreation Therapy Professionals with medical information and evidence based practices to improve the lives of the patients and clients with whom they work.”
There are a lot of opportunities out there for on-line learning. If you’re looking for “get ‘em cheap- I’m already burned out CEUs” you don’t have to look very far. Social media is always waving ideas at you. But for the conscientious therapist you want to understand what it takes to get quality CEUs.
- CREDIBILITY: The International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) has steep requirements. I took their 50 hour class (no I didn’t get CEUs for it) and all of my classes meet these requirements. There are many aspects that need to be met in taking a CEU you might never think about. NCTRC requires us to sign a statement that says we meet IACET requirements. My classes do. Conflict of interest is an example but there are many more! Question all CEU providers as to where they stand on IACET. They should be able to tell you immediately. All of our classes are “NCTRC Pre-Approved” as well.
- ENDURANCE: How long has the instructor been in the field? Time in the field provides stability for learners. The person has been through many experiences and can begin to find patterns that can be helpful in education. I began Ptarmigan West in 1990. Primarily, for the first 15 years, I was educating RNs, PTs, OTs. and SLPs on the topic of visual neglect after stroke. (That’s why I have so many classes on this topic on my website.) You probably didn’t know a Rec. Therapist would be teaching other professionals, but, I got really into it (while also working in a clinical setting). My material has taught tens of thousands of students over the past few decades. In 2006 I began teaching live seminars on various topics both regionally and nationally. In 2014 we began our on-line seminars. Ptarmigan West has evolved. My 30 plus years as a clinician has been my stabilizer.
- INTEGRITY: Is the end product the CEU or is it worthwhile education that you can use? Let’s face it, we all need CEUs. But the reason is so that we can continue our education. We are not just trying to gather the units. I once presented at a National ATRA conference where one attendee signed in, sat down in the back row, put her head down and slept for the 90 minutes. She was clearly hungover, but that’s beside the point. She didn’t get one iota of information for the session. She wasn’t even awake to receive a handout as they were passed by and didn’t ask for one as she signed out and left. She got her “unit” but no education. Pointless, isn’t it?
- LEARNING: Education should stick with you long after your CEU expires. Our inspiration, as quoted from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Include me and I learn.” At Ptarmigan West we have signed on to the E-learning Manifesto that states an online CEUs should not just be a “read it and take a test” course. That isn’t learning. If you’re going to be on the internet for your education you should be including it. I’m not the sole authority on each class I teach, but with the help of the internet I can steer you to others that can enhance what I’m teaching. I can’t do that as well in my live classes but the E-learning Manifesto has changed how I view education. It’s exciting and a lot of fun. (Yes, I’m saying that your CEUs can be fun too). If you go to ElearningManifesto.org and find the date in 2014 that I signed this education promise, (look under “Signatories”) email me and I’ll give you a code to take 30% off a course of your choice. (And my online classes are already priced affordable for the resources and education that you get) (barbara@PtarmiganWest.com)
- QUALITY: We focus on effective presentations that reach learners at their learning style. What is the instructor’s knowledge and experience on the topic? If you are solely reading someone else’s material and taking a test than they really aren’t teaching you anything. I can appreciate Danny’s love for reading and he screens the books he finds useful and pertinent in our field. Not just any book cuts the mustard for him. He’s using books that he finds helpful in his work.
So why is hiking like a CEU? When I go on a trail it’s comforting to know that someone has cleared the path before me. I get the joy of the adventure and coming back afterwards a slightly different – better person. Every hike teaches me something about myself and the world around me. I enjoy providing a path for others on this CEU journey and I enjoy the path of learning from others who have dedicated their careers to the many patients and clients they have served.
Enjoy your CEUs. Don’t just endure them. You wouldn’t go on a hike only because “it’s good for you”. You go for the journey. Let’s return to why CEUs are required: For the education not the unit.