The healthcare industry sets stringent standards for education, training and licensing for all its professionals including physical therapists obviously because of the health, care and, extremely, lives of their patients rests largely in their hands. One of the most important training standards is continuing education, which every physical therapist is well-advised to undergo for several reasons.
Why Undergo Continuing Education
There are several reasons for physical therapists, of which the most important are:
• The requirements for renewal of licenses among physical therapists include credits in continuing education, as mandated by state law. For example, Florida law requires licensed physical therapists to undergo education in various areas like clinical education, clinical management and clinical science for a certain number of hours.
• The courses are designed to assist licensed physical therapists to stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. New techniques, tools and treatment methods can be learned from these courses.
• The maintenance of memberships in professional organizations (ie, the American Physical Therapy Association) requires proof of continuing education even among long-time practitioners.
It is not just the physical therapist that benefit from continuing education – patients become the recipients of better services from their physical therapists, too.
Types of Continuing Education
The most common venue for continuing education courses are physical therapy schools including colleges and universities for obvious reasons. These chapters are also the most convenient since the courses are offered the whole year-round, which can not be said of other types. Physical therapists nowdays can choose between brick-and-mortar schools and online sites despite the latter must be approached with great care particularly in their accreditation status.
Other venues for education are audio conferences, industry seminars, and professional workshops conducted by the likes of the APTA. Just make sure that these avenues are accredited under state law so that the number of hours can be counted as a valid requirement for renewal of licenses.
It should be noted that the education can be stated either in contact hours or in education units (CEU). Providers of continuing education courses state the number of CEU while state licensing boards state their renewal requirements in contact hours. The difference between the two can mean renewal and non-renewal of licenses.
For example, most states have a ratio of 10 contact hours equal to 1 CEU. Keep in mind that an hour in one contact hour is not necessarily a full 60 minutes but it should be at least 50 minutes in duration. Thus, 1 CEU equals 1 contact hour while a.2 CEU equals 2 contact hours and so on and so forth.
Since each state registration board has different licensing requirements, it is best to ask the board before enrolling in continuing education classes. You want to ensure that you are complying with minimum requirements while also enhancing your knowledge of the latest advances in your field.