Most credentialing organizations require some form of continuing education (or CE) to maintain a certification or renew a license. Practitioners track their CE activities as they complete them and submit them as part of a renewal or audit.
While CE tracking requirements are common in certification and licensure programs, they’re not always efficient. Confusion can arise around expectations and requirements, which can lead to frustration when CE submissions are later rejected. The burden falls on the practitioner to manage their own CE activities, sometimes over a multi-year period. During this time, industries are bound to evolve, and the right resources may be hard to find.
CE management goes beyond CE tracking to expand your scope of influence within your professional ecosystem. Effective CE management not only enhances your organization’s role in defining its professional development standards but can also generate revenue. It deepens and strengthens your relationships with providers and practitioners, positioning your organization for long-term success. And with the right technology solutions, it makes life easier, not harder, for your organizational staff.
Why Should Credentialing Organizations Define CE Standards?
By taking an active role in defining continuing education standards for your program, the value of that CE will increase according to two very important factors:
The Value of Alignment
“What course should I take?”
Sometimes, practitioners can struggle with what CE offerings are right for them. Determining what is acceptable for renewal can be a challenge. The last thing a practitioner wants is for your board to not accept their CE activities after the fact. Defining content areas for continuing education ensures that your practitioners stay current with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
Practitioners on their second or third renewal cycle might find this particularly helpful, as the industry has likely changed since their initial licensing or certification exam. In other cases, targeted CE can help practitioners adapt to changes in the scope of practice. A job task analysis makes an ideal blueprint for defining your most relevant continuing education content areas.
The Value of Quality
“Is this course worth my time and money?”
Just as credentialing programs have an opportunity to define what makes CE relevant, they can also set the standards of its quality, determining whether a provider or course can create and replicate predictable and desired learning outcomes.
Organizations with established CE management can help ensure that courses are taught by a qualified instructor following a consistent curriculum and maintaining adequate record-keeping practices to recognize successful participation.
Approved Provider Programs
Once you’ve set the standards for your program’s continuing education requirements, providers will need to submit their CE content for approval according to those standards. You’ll need to establish a means — and incentive — for them to do so. That’s where an approved provider program comes in.
With a provider approval process, an educational institution or organization will submit the application, which can be as extensive or informal as needed to establish the credentials of the organization and its instructional capabilities. With a course approval program, a provider submits an application for each course. Courses are subject to review for instructional content and relevance to the program.
Provider approval and course approval processes can also work in tandem. For example, if your education providers typically submit a small number of courses, a formal provider approval process may be unnecessary. It may be more efficient if providers register without an evaluation process but then submit individual courses for evaluation. On the other hand, approving the organization as a whole and waiving the course approval process may be most efficient for a high course volume.
If you have both kinds of providers in your ecosystem, you might set up a two-pronged system: Previously-approved providers can submit coursework without review while non-approved providers must submit individual courses for evaluation. You decide!
Once established, your approved provider and course programs can become revenue-neutral or even revenue-generating activities. Initial application fees, annual renewal fees, and course approval fees — including upcharges for expedited reviews and discounts for high-volume submissions — are all on the table.
Why will providers be willing to pay these fees to join your approved provider network or get onto your approved course list?
How Does CE Management Benefit Education Providers?
Your practitioners will be more likely to enroll in CE they can find easily. They are also more likely to enroll in CE that they know is pre-approved for their recertification requirements. Providers can market themselves as part of your approved network, knowing that being an approved provider sets them apart as the most efficient and effective option in an ocean of course offerings. Plus, with a two-tier approval system, approved providers can achieve approval for all of their courses at once rather than individually, conserving staff resources.
A CE management system also creates a productive feedback loop between your board, learners, and providers, helping increase clarity on the content considered the most aligned and of the highest quality. Providers can hone their content areas according to your standards, which maximizes practitioner success on your exams. That’s one of the beautiful things about a thriving professional ecosystem: Benefits to one stakeholder group often translate to benefits for others.
How Does CE Management Benefit Practitioners?
Establishing a CE management system can have an immediate and long-lasting impact on a resource precious to your practitioners: time.
Your approved provider program will connect learners directly to the most relevant, highest-quality CE, saving them time searching and researching course offerings. It can even make the process enjoyable! If your approved providers are responsible for uploading attendance records directly onto their renewal applications, practitioners can also save time on their CE tracking. Most importantly, knowing that the CE they choose directly correlates to the content areas of your exam gives your learners the confidence to succeed in their renewal process, which can lead to increased renewal rates over time.
LearningBuilder for CE Management: Set Standards, Manage Approvals, and Integrate Seamlessly
LearningBuilder’s flexible, configuration-friendly, low-code software tools make setting up a CE management program smooth and painless. Engage your stakeholders on whatever level makes sense for your board and resources — we can take you from simple CE tracking to complex approval processes in a snap. Click here to schedule a quick call and learn more about CE management with LearningBuilder.