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Get smart about your continuing education.

Life-long learning should be an essential part of any career, not just for those in health care. But of course, there is that required component of being a regulated health practitioner - that is, the requirement to get CEUs, or Continuing Education Units.

I see RMTs talking about this a lot online. In fact I’d say it’s one of the top three topics people start or comment on on Facebook. And long before Facebook became an essential communication tool, it was still something frequently talked about. Asking colleagues and friends who work in the profession about what courses they’ve taken, did they like the course, and how much it cost are very common discussions over coffee or lunch.

CEUs ARE an important part of a successful career as an RMT or any other health care provider. Hopefully you know this already. And even if you aren’t in a regulated profession and aren’t required to get CEUs per se, continued education should be part of your career plan. If you don’t have any interest in this, you’ve probably chosen the wrong career. There should always be some area you’re interested in exploring more, improving your knowledge in, or practicing to improve your technique.

The important thing is to be thoughtful on what courses you do take and how you intend to use them to shape your career.

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Unfortunately, the tendency for many people is to do something quite different. I see one of two patterns emerge for most:

1) They look at what courses are coming to their city or town and pick something that looks interesting enough. It might have relevance to the direction they want to take their practice and business, or it might be simply so they have enough ‘points’ for that CEU cycle.

Or…

2) They wait until their CEUs are due in a few months and desperately start looking around for courses they can take. Almost anything will do, since they’re under time pressure, as long as they can get credit for it.

Neither of those methods is a good way to run your practice or your business. Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to have a game plan for your continued education based on what direction you want your practice to go? Shouldn’t you be on the lookout for courses that are in line with the types of treatments you want to focus on or the people who you most want to serve?

If you read that and say to yourself, “Self, I’m really not sure where I want to take my practice and the group that I want to serve”, well, that’s ok!

That just means you need to take some time for reflection.

What types of treatments do you most enjoy doing? What population would you like to focus on? Remember: focusing on one group, such as working with athletes or children, is fine. It doesn’t go against any regulations and doesn’t mean you’re limiting yourself. It just means you’re putting your focus on what you do best and where your passions lie, and using that guide to help you choose CEU courses.

Once you do have that narrowed down, it’s so much easier to choose courses that would serve you well in your practice.

Don’t forget to consider courses that help you run the business side of things, rather than just looking for new techniques. Courses on taxes for the self employed, handling your finances, marketing and advertising are always great choices. If you feel like you struggle with those areas, I encourage you to seek out ways to learn that material.

Remember too that you don’t have to take expensive courses. You can learn from your peers, read books and journal articles, watch videos online, listen to podcasts, and a plethora of other things. CEUs are not earned only from courses that give you certificates at the end.

But what if you’ve taken a lot of courses that relate to your target clients, you’ve been working for many years so have a lot of experience, and you can only claim coffee with your colleagues so much on your CEU form? Well remember, you can always improve on something. Even if you’ve got a full schedule of clients you love, even if you’ve got years of experience. There is always something to learn.

A story about this I’ve heard many times that I’ll share with you is about Pablo Casals, an incredible cellist from the first half of the 20th century. He is regarded as one of the best cellists of all time. He was asked several times over his career as he aged, including at age 95, why he continued to practice for many hours each day. And his answer was always “Because I think I’m making progress”.

So here’s your reminder to make some progress! Get a game plan for what you want to learn to move your career forward, and work on making that happen.