3 IMPORTANT Considerations for SLPs: Choosing Continuing Education Courses Wisely

choosing continuing education courses

As a pediatric SLP, your dedication to ongoing learning is vital for providing the best care for your clients and their families. Continuing education (CE) not only enriches your practice but also ensures you stay up-to-date with the latest research and techniques in the field of speech-language pathology. With the vast options available, choosing continuing education courses wisely is important to best serve both yourself and your clients.

1. Understand What is Required of You

Before diving headfirst into the depths of available CE courses, be sure you understand the specific requirements set by both your state and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 

ASHA requires 30 hours or 3.0 professional development hours (PDHs) within a 36-month cycle to stay current with your certification maintenance. States differ in their requirements. Some limit the number of courses that can be obtained virtually while others require more frequent renewal intervals.

Easily check what your state requires at this State Overview resource provided by ASHA.

Also, be aware of required course topics such as ethics, cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These topics are important for providing moral and culturally responsive care for your clients and their families.

Understanding the Difference in Courses

When considering different continuing education courses, it’s important to understand the difference between ASHA CE courses and other professional development options. Completed ASHA CE courses are reflected in CEUs. All other acceptable courses are measured in PDHs.

While both are accepted for certification maintenance, ASHA CE courses have undergone a rigorous approval process to obtain the “ASHA approved” status. This process is costly for course providers and often results in higher-priced courses for participants. 

Professional development courses are usually more cost-effective because the provider isn’t offsetting the fee for ASHA approval. 

It’s important to remember that the price difference does not reflect “better”. The content and style of the course matter most!

choosing continuing education courses wisely: for SLPs

Keep a Record of Your Completed Courses

Before beginning your continuing education courses, it’s important to plan to keep up with what you do! To ensure compliance with the requirements of your state and ASHA, you should maintain detailed records of the CE courses you complete. 

Options:

  • ASHA’s CE Registry
  • Personal records

ASHA CE Registry

ASHA offers a $28-38 yearly option to keep track of your completed CE courses and certificates for you. Only ASHA-approved courses are recorded in the ASHA CE Registry. 

This is likely worth the small investment if you plan to take only ASHA-approved CEUs.

Personal Records

If you would rather not invest solely in ASHA-approved CE courses, consider keeping your own records on a spreadsheet or running WordDoc. 

You’ll want to keep track of the following information:

  • Name of course
  • Instructor or company providing the course
  • Number of PDHs awarded
  • Date completed

It’s also a good idea to keep both digital and physical copies of your course certificates in clearly labeled files for easy reference!

2. Choose Continuing Education Options that Best Interest You

Next, it’s important to consider your interests when choosing continuing education courses. 

In the vast field of speech-language pathology, it’s nearly impossible to specialize in every area! Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on topics that genuinely interest you and align with your current client population. You can also choose courses in areas that you want to eventually work with! 

Whether it’s childhood apraxia of speech, stuttering assessments and therapy, or bilingual language acquisition, choose courses that allow you to deepen your knowledge and skills in specific areas. 

SLP doing face to face therapy with young child

Avoid SLP Burnout

Specializing in only a couple of areas also helps you avoid SLP burnout and increases your effectiveness in providing specialized treatment to your clients and their families. 

Refresh Your Knowledge

If you have been an SLP for 10+ years, it’s also wise to consider enrolling in a course on a favorite topic to refresh yourself. Evidence-based practices are constantly changing, and staying on top of the newest developments, like neurodiversity-affirming practices or gestalt language learning, is necessary for maintaining clinical excellence!

Be Strategic

Choosing continuing education courses is also about being strategic. 

If you are considering moving into another setting or working with another population, carefully select continuing education courses that help prepare you for these changes! 

Remember, you don’t have to know it all! Find inner peace in what you know about other SLP topics. For other areas, refer to colleagues who may be more specialized. You really are more qualified than you give yourself credit for– don’t let imposter syndrome tell you otherwise!

3. Consider Your Personal Learning Style

Finally, consider your personal learning style while choosing continuing education courses. Maybe you learn better face-to-face at live, interactive events or prefer virtual learning options that you can do from the comfort of your home at your own pace. 

State and national conferences are great opportunities to meet and collaborate with colleagues while also working on several shorter CE courses at once. 

If you prefer longer sessions with more in-depth information and time to soak in all of the information, other options may be better for you. 

SLP choosing continuing education courses to best fit learning preferences

Virtual sessions are hosted live or are often available to complete over your own time. These are great options for many busy professionals! 

Also, take advantage of free or low-cost webinars or short trial sessions. This will help you determine whether a particular educator’s style suits your learning preferences before you commit to spending a significant amount of time or money on a full course. 

*Try this FREE webinar about boosting engagement with books to help you learn easy tweaks to gain and maintain attention with a wide range of books for children 1-5 years old!

Choose formats that help you retain and integrate new information the best! There are truly options for every learning style now.

choosing continuing education courses wisely

Choosing continuing education courses wisely is essential for your professional growth as a pediatric SLP. By understanding certification requirements and selecting courses that match your interests and learning style you will be able to make decisions that will impact your clients and their families for years to come!

You may also be interested in reading:

How to Support Caregivers with Research Strain

The Basics of AAC in Speech Therapy

3 Ways to Build Trust and Respect with Caregivers: A Guide for Pediatric SLPs

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.