The Continuing Quest for Knowledge

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imagesZO3BUDV6Continuing Education is offered in every profession.  Some have specific requirements and others leave it up to the professional to improve their knowledge of their chosen field. Seminars and workshops are offered from one extreme to the other and at all levels. These courses also range from the good to the bad to the ugly.

The healthcare profession, like most, is flooded with numerous courses.  So much so that choosing where to spend your money and time is a huge concern.  In an effort to ease the decision making process several course review sites and forums have be created to provide open and honest reviews of the various courses.  These forums usually represent the professionals needs and concerns and I thought it would benefit everyone to see the world of continuing education from the perspective of the providers.

Here are some basic questions that providers have to answer, literally on a daily basis.

1- “This course was nothing like I expected it to be.”

Please research a course and it’s instructor before you register. Make sure the content is something you are interested in and the instructor has a good reputation before committing your money and time. Do not trust or rely on the website as no one is going to list that they are a lousy instructor and their course a marketing scam. And please, unless you know the person, do not trust someone’s opinion who is “overly” dedicated to a particular technique or instructor.  Find someone who can give you an objective well rounded opinion.

2- “What do you mean it is canceled?  I really want to take this class.”

Once you have decided to attend do not wait until the last minute to register.  Especially if the instructor is not local.  If minimum attendance is not meet by the early bird date the traveling instructor will be FORCED to cancel class. FYI- the main reason for the early bird rate is to insure enough of an attendance for the instructor to arrange for travel (in the past you could make flight changes or cancel a flight with minor penalties.  Not so today- instructors can lose hundreds of dollars for last minute flight cancelations or changes) and so that the host will not lose their deposit on the hall or conference center.

Now, life happens and if you do have to wait until the last minute to sign up and find the class canceled please do not blame the instructor or host. Seriously, we want to hold the courses but we have bills to pay as well and can not make a financial commitment if you do not.

3- “When are you going to offer a course in my area?” 

Traveling to attend a course is expensive.  Trust us we know this.  What you need to recognize is that scheduling a course is not as easy as it sounds.  There is a lot of work, time and money that goes into organizing/hosting a seminar/workshop.  If you truly want the course in your area then you need to be proactive by contacting local schools and organizations, let them know you and your fellow therapists would like to have this course brought in and most importantly that you are all committed to attending .

3a-“I had no idea you were in my area last month.” 

If you are interested in attending a course then sign-up for the newsletter and more importantly, periodically check the websites for course listings. I have had to cancel courses only to have a number of people contact me/post a few weeks/months later complaining that I never come to their area.

3b- “Can you let me know when you are in my area?”

Sorry, but no, we would love to attend to you personally but that is just not possible.  Again, please if you are interested in attending then just periodically check the website and watch for local advertising.

4- “What do you mean I am not signed-up?”

Calling to inquire about a class does not mean you are registered or that a spot is now reserved for you.  Emailing to inquire about the course does mean you are registered or that a spot is now reserved for you . Posting that you are attending a course does not mean you are registered or that a spot is now reserved.

Actually registering and paying for the class means you are registered and have a spot reserved in the course.

5- “Do I need to take Level 1 to sign up for Level 2?”

If a course has a pre-requisite(s) you should not call with the following questions:  “I am really only interested in level 2,  so can I just skip the level 1?” or  “I am trained in another technique so can I skip the pre- requisites?”.  The answer is and will always be no.

6- “So when are you ending the class?” or ” Are we going to get out early?” If  you sign up for a 16 hour course then arrange/plan your travel, day etc for a 16 hour course.  Do not walk in the door and ask if there is any chance the class can get out early.  If you cannot, for whatever reason life hands you, stay for the full length of the course then inform the instructor and take it upon yourself to quietly and respectfully leave.  Do not ask/expect the instructor to speed things up or deprive other students of the education they paid for.

6a- “I have to leave early but I still get full credit right? I need it to fill my requirement.”

If you do leave a class early or show up late please understand that you are forfeiting the CEU time you missed. I.e. if you leave an hour early because you wanted to catch an earlier flight then you are entitled to 15 out of the 16 CE contact hours for the course.  This is the rule which the Instructor is required to implement to maintain their certification as an approved provider.

6b – Lunch does not count as a CE contact hour. 

You learned how to eat a sandwich in kindergarten. In other words, if it is an 8 CE contact hours class plan on being there for 9 hours.

7- “I have this client so how do I treat them?”

An instructor is always happy to give some advice and answer questions. But please do not expect complete treatment plans and/or instructions on how to treat your clients or yourself.  Remember we can only give suggestions since we have never actually met your client.  If you have extensive questions or would like help creating a treatment plan then please respect the instructor’s time & knowledge and book a consultation.

8- Could you just look at my back? I have had this problem forever.”

Always attend a class looking to gain new insight on how to treat your clients or your own issues.  Do not, however, come to a class expecting free treatments (from instructor or fellow classmates), or to be cured/fixed.  If you are in need then inquire (before seminar if at all possible) if the instructor is seeing clients and schedule an appointment .

9- “I really won’t use any of this I just needed the credit.”

If you are taking a course simply to meet your state requirements please remember the instructor is there to share a topic or technique that they love and that the rest of your classmates want to learn.  Respect that.

10-“Well this is how I do it.”

When in class leave your personal techniques (not your knowledge) at the door.  It is very disrespectful during practice session to perform your own work.  You and your practice partner came to learn and experience the work being taught, period.  And a little side note, the instructor’s insurance does not cover you treating in their classroom.

11-Speak up and make a difference

If the course/instructor turned out not to be to your liking please fill out the review sheet and give a comprehensive, professional and polite statement as to why and how you would suggest the course can be improved.  Do not just circle number 5 for all of the questions and then later complain on Face Book. Or worse say nothing to anyone and let others have the same bad experience you did.

You will not hurt the instructor’s feelings, yes we do take all comments into account and yes, we do try to improve our classes each and every time we teach. Your feedback matters.

12- “I would love to attend your classes but they are too expensive.”

Yes there are courses that are over the top when it comes to cost. I, myself, was recently outraged at a Con Ed company.  The course itself was $200 a day, in my opinion a fare and decent price, however they (attempted) to tack on a $200 “city fee” plus the course fee apparently did not include the required texts and demanded an additional $50.  Totally obscene as far as I am concerned and a complete turn off.  However, going to the other extreme, thinking that one can learn a hands on technique from an on-line course or that taking a 3hr mini course at a conference qualifies them to advertise and charge for the technique is just as wrong.

If you did your research as recommended at the beginning of this blog, then you will know if the instructor is experienced and the course quality.  Please do not dismiss all the time and effort the instructors have taken to learn and perfect their work plus all that they have to go through to offer courses by complaining about their prices.

I often hear complaints about having to spend money on continuing education.   The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”

First and foremost, professionals are known for their specialized knowledge. They’ve made a deep personal commitment to develop and improve their skills, and, where appropriate, they have the degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this knowledge.

Professionals make a serious, thoughtful and sustained effort to master the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in their fields; and that they keep this knowledge up-to-date, so that they can continue to deliver the best work possible.

Understanding that quality education is not only necessary to further ones career but a requirement of being a professional is key.  Unfortunately there are those who view/treat their chosen occupation as a their job not a profession.  Personally, I find this massively disheartening.

So there you have it, a brief look at the other side of the coin. Please consider this information when reading reviews and weighing options.  I hope this insight aids you in the quest for quality continuing education.

Remember CE stands for more than just Credits Earned!