Continuing Education for Sleep Technologists and Respiratory Therapists – Is it Necessary?
In health care, many of us view continuing education as a pathway to national and state credentialing as well as licensure. And this is a valid reason to pursue education beyond the academic setting. BUT – this is not the only reason to become educated. So, let’s explore some of those reasons.
First, what is continuing education? This generally refers to post-secondary learning that adults pursue once formal education has been completed. This takes the form of in-person seminars and classes, as well as distance education in the form of on-line courses and degree programs.
Some continuing education is required by licensing agencies, by national credentialing bodies and/or by employers as a requirement for continued employment.
Those more formal organizations such as credentialing bodies may limit the number of hours that may be attended in a non-traditional remote setting, and only allow a certain percent of education to be achieved in this manner.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
I. Improved Relationship with Employer
- Continuing education may be a requirement of continued employment. Many organizations value the relative worth of employees’ desire to expand their education and improve their knowledge base.
- In health care, competence must be demonstrated as a requirement of the employer and/or accreditor. Competence in job performance can be enhanced through meeting and exceeding the minimum educational requirements of the job.
- When compared to others within a department who achieve less, those who outperform others educationally are generally better employees. They have demonstrated a unique desire to improve themselves and the care for the patients they serve.
- Because self-improvement is viewed as an attribute in health care, improved continuing education may lead to greater monetary compensation. Often raises and promotions are based on one’s ability to meet and exceed the requirements of the position. Education enhances one’s position in that area.
- According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average a college degree holder will earn twice as much as someone who doesn’t have a degree. This form of continuing education is a demonstration of self-investment, with a significant reward at completion.
- In addition to monetary compensation, promotions may also be predicated on one’s pursuit of continuing education, either through traditional or non-traditional programs.
- Employers may have positions that require an advanced degree as a basic requirement. When placed side-by-side with another candidate for a promotion, the individual with the greater academic resume usually gets the job.
II. Improves Career Mobility
- Many health care professions have advanced educational requirements for specific job functions. There are initial requirements that are needed for licensure, and ongoing requirements that allow individuals to maintain those licenses.
III. Improves Image and Marketability.
- Continuing education is a valuable asset in an effective résumé. Employers often look beyond the minimum qualifications for a job when seeking the extraordinary employee.
- Employers recognize and reward an individual’s knowledge of the most current trends and skills in their industry. They will often hire based on technological and technical expertise, as demonstrated through the time, energy and effort spent in ongoing education – whether required by the profession or not.
IV. Improves Lifestyle.
- Lifestyles are often equated to compensation and position within an organization. Where individuals are unhappy with their lifestyles, they may explore continuing education as a vehicle to bring about change.
- Career improvement often can be generalized to remainder on one’s life. Improving a career through education has been proven to enhance job satisfaction, thus improving both compensation and upward mobility.
V. Improvements in Self-Image
- Even where individuals are completely satisfied with life, job and career choices, most experts agree that when learning is embraced as a lifelong process, this level of devotion improved self-image and assists personal development.
- Education takes on many forms, and some of the most rewarding exercises are not those that are required – but rather those that develop and enhance the interest of the individual.
So, whether it is a requirement of the employer, a requirement of an accreditor, a degree mandated by the profession itself, or simply a desire to lean – continuing education is essential to our growth and development as health care professionals. We enhance our salaries, our positions within an organization, and meet the general requirements of any job. But more importantly, we improve ourselves – and through that improvement, we are better positioned to serve our patients.
As the year draws quickly to a close, now is the time to obtain your required credits to meet your state CEU certification.
- Sleep technologists are required to become recertified every five years to maintain their credentials. To be recertified, one must either retake and pass the RPSGT or RST examination, or accrue 50 continued education credits (CECs) over the five years.
- Respiratory Therapist’s requirements are set by individual state boards, but average between 20 to 30 hours of continuing education every two years, with recertifications required annually or biannually depending on the state of residence. For a full list of CE requirements for Respiratory Therapists in the US, click here. For respiratory therapists looking for Respiratory CEU’s only, please visit our sister site: respiratoryedu.org