January 2015
Swank Health: Your monthly news from Swank HealthCare


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Maximizing the Benefits of Continuing Education

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What's Going On?

Swank HealthCare hosts Webinar with Rebecca Smallwood

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Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge of continuing education

Recommended Readings

Recommended Courses*
  • 31815 Educational Design and Evaluation
  • 315814 / 16014 Teamwork and Leadership: Healthcare Professionalism
  • 38314 Practical Ethics for Healthcare Professionals

* course numbers may vary by facility


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Did You Know?

Maximizing the Benefits of Continuing Education

Maintaining professional competence is a core responsibility of each health professional, regardless of discipline, specialty, or type of practice. This requires a commitment to lifelong learning and continuing professional development.  A primary component of these functions is continuing education, which should be based on the principles of:

  • Improving the quality of patient care by promoting improved clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and by enhancing practitioner performance
  • Assuring the continued competency of clinicians and the effectiveness and safety of patient care, and
  • Providing accountability to the public

To maximize the benefits of continuing education, there are 5 important steps that healthcare professionals must take.

Step 1:  Make a commitment – Not only do you have a responsibility to your patients to maintain professional competencies, a commitment to lifelong learning through continuing education is a key element to career and professional development.   Make a decision to invest in improving your knowledge and skills throughout your career.  Professionals who make this commitment say the more they learn and grow, the more fulfilling their professional lives become. 

Step 2:  Assess your career goals and professional learning needs –The famous author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”  To make sure you’re on the right path, you need to know where you want to go.  To do this, you must determine what your professional goals are and what types of new knowledge and skills are needed to meet them.   Once you’ve determined your destination, ask yourself these questions to help in establishing your learning needs: What types of learning are needed? Do you need to invest in completing a foundational degree, advanced degree, certification, CE courses?  Where do you have gaps in knowledge, and where will new evidence-based learning help you provide better care to patients in your current roles and in reaching your professional and goals? What types of CE are required to maintain your license or certifications? What types of continuing education are required by your employer?  What topics interest you?  What CE is available to you?  What time commitments are necessary to complete the CE you need?  What are the best ways to fit CE into your schedule? 

Step 3:  Develop a strategic plan – Keeping up with the pace of new information in healthcare is sometimes like drinking from a fire hose. 

  • In 2011, there were an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 new articles published annually in scientific medical journals. 
  • A study by IBM, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer and Anthem Inc. stated that it would take clinicians 160 hours per week of reading just to keep up with the current pace of new knowledge, and
  • Donald Lindberg, M.D., director of the National Library of Medicine calculated that if he read two journal articles every night, by the end of the year he’d be 400 years behind.  
  • In addition to the challenge of an overwhelming amount of new evidence available at such a rapid pace, increased demands on healthcare professionals reduce the time available for new learning. 

When engaging in continuing education, these points provide clear reasons why it’s so important to develop a strategic plan.  The key is to prioritize your learning needs:

  1. CE needed to maintain license and certification requirements.  This includes the number of hours and types of CE required by your license or certification authorities. 
  2. CE required by your employer.  If you’re unsure of these requirements, discuss them with your manager or supervisor.
  3. CE needed to help you improve your patients’ outcomes and healthcare experiences in your current roles.  This includes CE on topics to maintain competencies and learn new knowledge and skills.
  4. CE needed to meet professional goals.  This includes CE on topics to improve performance in your current role, as well as those to help you meet new goals that may require knowledge and skills in new settings, new roles, with new patient populations, or to help prepare you for new license, certification, or degree aspirations.
  5. CE on topics that may be outside those listed above, but are areas of interest that will enhance your professional goals.

Step 4:   Be deliberate and consistent – Your strategic plan should also include a schedule for meeting your learning needs that is deliberate and consistently applied.   It’s important to remember that new learning will require time commitments, but trying to fit too many CE activities into an already busy schedule is a recipe for failure.  Determine goals for when you will engage in and complete components of CE based on deadlines required by licensing and certification authorities, your employer, your schedule, and career goals.  Try to space learning activities across your schedule week to week and month to month.  Be sure to include flexibility in your plan and make sure you complete activities with time to spare in case situations or circumstances create unexpected delays.

Step 5:  Adjust as needed – The last step needed to maximize the benefits of continuing education is to regularly assess your plan to make sure you’re staying on track and to make adjustments as needed.


What's Going On?

Swank HealthCare hosts Webinar with Rebecca Smallwood

On April 30, Rebecca Smallwood conducted a webinar on the Road to Patient Safety. In this she described strategies, progress and the challenges along with ways to improve the patient’s safety and healthcare quality...

More Information »


Recommended Readings


Top List

Online learning continues to the preferred delivery method for continuing education. Here are the top advantages online learning provides:

  1. Accessibility: Participants can access course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere they have web access. This provides busy professionals with the flexibility they need to learn when and where it best meets their needs
  2. Control of learning pace: Online learning provides opportunities for participants to control their pace of learning. They can start, stop, review, and move through content as slowly or quickly as they need.
  3. Immediate results: Most online courses provide immediate results of tests and quizzes.
  4. Better retention: Clever instructional design, user experience, and multimedia options can provide a richer, more effective learning experience than traditional methods.
  5. Access to resources: Many online learning platforms provide participants with a variety of learning resources, such as PowerPoints, handouts, charts, graphs, manuscripts, outlines, and links to additional helpful tools.
  6. Track progress: Some online learning providers allow participants to complete courses in more than one sitting, by saving progress and bookmarking it for completion at a later time.
  7. No distractions: With online learning, participants can engage in learning activities free of distractions, interruptions, side discussions, and stories that often come with traditional classroom experiences.
  8. e-transcripts: Some providers of online learning save course completion information and transcripts that can be accessed and printed when needed for reporting of continuing education to licensing and certification authorities and employers.
  9. Search functions: Online search functions allow participants to easily and quickly locate courses and that meets their needs.
  10. Saves money: Utilizing online learning eliminates travel expenses and hefty registration costs for on-site seminars.

Now Trending

Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge of continuing education for healthcare professionals.

Of the U.S. states that require a specific number of continuing education hours for nurses to maintain licensure, what is the average number of CE hours a nurse would have to complete every month to meet those requirements?

A. .5 (30 minutes)
B. .75 (45 minutes)
C. 1 (1 hour)
D. 1.25 (1 hour and 25 minutes)

How many U.S. states require continuing professional education activities as a prerequisite for re-licensure for pharmacists?

A. 25
B. 33
C. 41
D. 50 plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico

How many U.S. states require an average of 50 or more hours of CME to be completed per year for MDs and/or DOs?

A. 3
B. 11
C. 17
D. 21


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Answer: C

1 (1 hour) ×

Answer: D

50 plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico

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Answer: B

11 Those states include the following: California (50 hours, DOs), Illinois (50 hours), Kansas (50 hours), Maine (50 hours, DOs and MDs), Massachusetts (50 hours), Michigan (50 hours), DOs and MDs), New Hampshire (50 hours), North Carolina (50 hours), Ohio (50 hours), Pennsylvania (50 hours, DOs and MDs), Washington (50 hours, DOs and MDs)

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