Have you ever dreaded completing a task only to later realize that you had done it and your life just got a whole lot easier? Imagine learning that you need a document for work or school and being instantly frustrated that you will not find what is needed or have the time to search the multiple piles of paper in your home. Then, at the start of your search, you find a folder that is labeled “Important Documents” and there is the required document in the folder! Thank you, past self, for being so organized! This is a case where your past self helped your future self.
Always function in a way where your future self will thank your past self, including how you store and track your occupational therapy CEUs.
The reality of being a healthcare professional is the need to be licensed to practice. We all know the CEU process as it relates to being able to practice. You need to be initially certified to be licensed. Then to maintain your certification and licensure, you are required to complete continuing education credits. Consistently tracking your CEUs is a system that you need in your life.
NBCOT, State licensing boards, PDUs, and CEUs.
Currently, NBCOT requires 36 Professional Development Units (PDU’s). The list can be found here: NBCOT Certification Renewal Activities Chart. Each state has a different number of continuing education units (CEUs) needed to maintain the licensure. If you are an AOTA member, you can access the list of all 50 states here: State Occupational Therapy Licensure | AOTA If you are not an AOTA member your state’s licensure board will have information on the required amount of CEUs that are required to renew your license. For example, if you are licensed in New York, you can find the information here: NYS Occupational Therapy: Practice Guidelines: Continuing Competency (nysed.gov) or if you are licensed in Texas, you can find the CEU information here: OT – Continuing Education – ECPTOTE Website (texas.gov).
Continuing Education Unit Tracking
With CEUs, each state has different methods of tracking the information. Many ask if you have completed the required time with an understanding that if audited, you must provide proof of the credits completed. Murphy’s Law will ensure that the one time you check that you completed the required time because you think you met the requirement, is the one time that you will be audited! No proof can mean no license to practice.
Do not let poor tracking of the courses you take to maintain your license be the reason you lose your license.
Other states and NBCOT want a list of the courses and supporting documents. I can share from my personal experience, that inputting information at the time of your renewal is not the way to go! Maintaining a running record of your CEUs as you complete them will allow your future self to renew your license in an efficient(and least frenetic!) manner.
At the 11th hour, figuring out where you placed that 2-day course certificate worth 14 CEU’s is not where you want to be!
Additionally, tracking your CEUs allows you to see what you have learned and accomplished over the past renewal cycle. Courses on splinting, sensory processing disorder, evidence-based interventions for shoulder injuries, and much more can be a metric for all new information that you have learned and can put into practice. If you supervised a student, you can take pride in the fact that you shaped a new therapist! Document those 8 (OTA student) or 12 (OT student) weeks for 8 or12 PDUs!
This file can be your “brag” folder to show your growth. The certificates are proof of your dedication to learning to provide effective, evidence-based client care. They can be shown to your supervisor when it comes time for a promotion or to update your resume if you are looking for a new position.
Track your CEUs for your future self!
The key here is to setup a system where whenever you complete a course, the CEU certificate is filed, and your CEU tracker is also completed.
- 1. Develop a system. Decide if you are Team Paper or Team Electronic and file each CEU as they are completed. Be honest with yourself here. If your system is not one that you are committed to and can consistently follow, you will not maintain this system. While I am Team Paper for planning, I am Team Electronic for tracking my CEUs because it is more efficient for me to have all my materials online to upload as needed. However, I am on my computer most of the day. Clinicians are not always at a computer, so Team Paper may work best.
- Team Paper–make a physical file folder and use this Paper CEU tracker to summarize your courses and track the numbers. Also, file the certificate into your folder as your proof of completion. As a reminder, the certificates need to be scanned and uploaded into NBCOT as proof of completion—a task that is easy if you have all your certificates in your file.
- Team Electronic–use this Electronic CEU tracker. Scan all certificates and place them into a folder. I suggest using a platform that you can access across multiple devices such as Google Drive or One Drive.
- 2. NBCOT CEU tracker— NBCOT – National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy has grown in the number of resources they provide to certified therapists. Their continuing education tracker is amazing! To find the tracker, log in. Then go to My Dashboard and then Renewal Log
Some benefits of the tracker are it tracks and chronologically organizes your PDUs (which you can convert to CEUs or contact hours if that is how your state licensing agencies wants the information). In the end, you have a full list of courses and certificates that you can print for your state license if you are audited. Uploading your certificates into NBCOT ensure that there is no need to be audited for your certification because all the information has been provided. Just a note: you are unable to access the uploaded certificates in NBCOT. So, keep the pdf copy!
Additionally, NBCOT has Navigator (nbcot.org), a free competency assessment platform where modules can be completed for PDUs. Completion of these modules automatically updates your NBCOT PDU tracker, and you have an opportunity to obtain more than 40 units in a 3-year renewal cycle using Navigator.
- 3. Track consistently. Update your trackers the day you complete your course. It will literally take no more than 10 minutes and will save you hours in the future.
There are many options available to track your CEUs. Determine which one works best and stick with it! Your future self will thank you when the renewal letter comes in the mail!