by Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP
One of the fabulous things about the profession of speech-language pathology is that we are expected to constantly learn. There is always new research being discussed, new ideas to practice, new breakthroughs for therapy, and sadly, new paperwork requirements. Most state licensures require a certain amount of continuing education hours every year or two and ASHA requires a certain amount over three years. Thankfully, we can usually double-dip and count the same CEUs for both state licensure and ASHA. However, in today’s busy schedule of high caseloads and insane paperwork, no one has time to sit through yet another conference that doesn’t pertain to our work.
After discussions on social media, it has come to my attention that not everyone realizes there are alternatives to sitting in a conference room just to get the CEUs. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m all for conferences. There is a lot to be said about the camaraderie of sitting in a room of similar professionals. However, as wonderful as that camaraderie is, if the subject matter doesn’t pertain to your job, or interest you, is it truly time well-spent? Thankfully there are many alternative ways to gain professional development and continuing education credits. Thankfully there are many alternative ways to gain professional development and continuing education credits.
First, I feel it’s necessary to state that professional development goes beyond continuing education. Even though I can’t get CEUs for it, I use twitter and to some extent Facebook as a way to increase my professional development. In both venues there are SLPs and Audiologists that are active and willing to share information and ideas. It is truly like being at a conference every day, and I highly recommend getting involved with it for your personal professional development. Unfortunately, neither state licensing boards nor ASHA recognize time spent on twitter as continuing education (go figure!) even if it is incredibly valuable. However, most state licensing boards and ASHA recognize online learning as a viable alternative to conferences.
One recurrent question is where to get CEUs. Thankfully there are many areas that cater to CEUs for both SLPs and Audiologists. For instance, if you are an ASHA member and have joined an ASHA SIG you have access to $5.00 CEUs through that SIG’s Perspectives publication. Many people also use Linguisystems or SuperDuper Inc. for CEUs. Personally, I like speechpathology.com and the wide variety of courses they offer. Although it’s a fee per year, its unlimited CEUs and they are reported directly to my ASHA CEU Registry so I don’t have to worry about reporting them. Best of all, I get to choose which sessions I’m going to. Having a choice definitely makes all the difference between active learning and merely suffering through.
One of the things that many people seem to struggle with is figuring out which CEUs to take. Just as sitting in a conference that doesn’t pertain to you is a waste of time, sitting through a session that doesn’t pertain to you or worse is not evidence or research based is a waste of time. As with any activity, the professional needs to look at the information and decide if it is worth his or her time. ASHA has some great information on how to choose CEUs.
It is important to recognize that while ASHA does not limit the number of CEUs that are taken online, some state licensing boards do. Some states require that only 50% of the required CEUs can be online as they are considered “independent study”. However, it is important to recognize there is a distinction between Independent Study and Self-Study. Be sure to check out your state’s requirements. It may be that not all online learning is created equal in the eyes of the licensing bureau.
Finally, continuing education and professional development can be (and perhaps should be) designed to be a year-long event. With the use of online webinars, it can be very easy to get in some great sessions without having to miss work or take an entire weekend away from home and family. I have challenged myself (and my followers on twitter) to a CEU challenge of earning one CEU per week. Imagine the knowledge that can be gained over the course of the year by devoting one hour/week (or a month) to an online seminar.
Our ever changing career requires ongoing learning. Our busy schedules demand effective time management. Combing the two for online continuing education is a way for everyone, professional and client, to benefit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR-
Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP is a school based SLP in rural North Dakota. An avid user of technology, Mary has authored iPad applications, presented on using iPads in therapy, and is a member of the Smarty Ears Advisory Board. She is an active user of social media and collaborates with SLPs internationally via twitter, facebook, and her blog at www.speechadventures.com. Mary has been published in the ASHA Leader online social media column.