How Do We Get Approval to Offer CEUs?
CEU requirements vary between the professional organizations and societies. There are basically three scenarios.
- Self-certification - The professional holding the certificate or license keeps track of his or her educational activities. They usually have to submit a list of activities to the certifying or licensing organization on a yearly basis and are expected to be able to provide proof, if requested, that they attended the activities submitted.
- Post-approval - Following attendance at a professional development activity, the agenda and proof of attendance is sent to the certifying or licensing organization. The number of CEUs to be approved is determined and recorded for each participant after the educational activity has occurred.
- Pre-approval - A professional will only receive CEUs if the certifying or licensing organization has pre-approved the credits before the professional development activity takes place. Following the activity, an official list of participants is sent to the organization, which then records the number of CEUs obtained by each.
Obviously, it would be easier for your chapter to offer CEUs under the first two scenarios. However, because CEUs in the third category are often the most difficult to get, professionals needing these are more likely to attend your chapter’s activity and to pay to do so if the appropriate pre-approved CEUs are offered.
Below are some suggested steps for obtaining approval for and offering CEUs:
Hint: The more types of CEUs your chapter can offer for an activity from a variety of organizations, the more professionals that may be willing to attend!
- Organize a program on a timely and relevant topic. Schedule knowledgeable and eloquent speakers and good technical sessions. Develop the agenda as early as possible.
- From the program, determine which disciplines may qualify for CEUs.
Hint: Include a wide variety of disciplines in your list of professions that may qualify for CEUs by attending your program. “Look outside the box”. If you are having a program on planting native grasses, invite engineers as well as agronomists.
- Send a copy of the program and agenda (if available) to representatives of the boards of the various certification and licensing programs. Do this as far in advance of the program as you possibly can.
- The boards will review the information to determine if your program qualifies for CEUs in a given discipline under their requirements.
- The boards will then determine the number of CEUs that will be awarded to attendees. Things that may be considered include the program topic(s), program objectives and goals, length of the program, qualifications of the speakers, equipment to be demonstrated, and facility where the activity will be held.
- Develop the conference notice and other materials to advertise your program.
When you have received approval from the Boards for CEUs, include this in the conference notice, and send it to professional societies for the disciplines that may benefit. (If you do not have time to wait for approval from the Boards, you can indicate on the notice that approval for CEUs has been requested). Also send the notice to colleagues in related organizations, and ask them to do the same.
Hint: Include the following information in the conference notice:
- Program agenda
- Speakers and brief background information
- CEUs - “type,” number offered, and whether pre-approval has been obtained
- Location (including directions)
- Registration costs
- Lodging/travel arrangements & costs
- Contact information
Set up an email list and a mailing list of chapter members and other potential attendees. Send reminders to potential attendees several times; perhaps, a preliminary program six months in advance, the formal conference notice and program three months in advance, and a final notice two weeks before the registration deadline.
Have a sign-up sheet (Excel Doc) available for program attendees who want to register for CEUs. You may need a different sheet for each type of CEU, depending upon the certification or licensing programs’ requirements.
Prepare a verification of attendance and provide it to each attendee. Include the conference information and the number of CEUs pre-approved. Download a sample verification form (Word Doc).
Following the program, send the sign-in sheets to the boards of the respective certification or licensing organizations so that attendees will receive CEUs (or follow the procedures provided by the boards).
If your chapter is not able to have CEUs pre-approved by the certification or licensing organizations (due to time constraints or other issues), suggest to attendees that they request post-approval of CEUs from their organizations themselves, or offer to submit sign-in/out sheets and other information in order to obtain post-approval. Chapters can provide verification of attendance forms or other documentation so that attendees can seek CEUs on their own. This method will be acceptable to some organizations.
Download a sample sign in sheet (Excel Doc) to help track who attends.