Certificates and Professional Development Hours

The following is not authoritative but represents a general understanding of the way college credit hours, Professional Development Hours (PDH's) and Continuing Education Units (CEU's) are accumulated. The issue of showing Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) is required in some states and promoted on a volunteer basis in others. It is expected each professional will be familiar with his/her individual state requirements whatever they are.


Continuing Education:

As an instructor, I have no authority to award PDH's or CEU's. But I am able to provide a signed certificate which states that the named individual attended a session on (whatever the topic is) which lasted x number of minutes (translated into PDH's). It is up to each person attending a seminar to collect appropriate certificates and to use them as evidence of accumulating the required number of CEU's.

The system described leaves it up to the registration board to accept or reject a certificate as acceptable evidence of "participation." In some cases, a board will review and approve a seminar prior to its being offered. That is better in that a person knows before paying for a seminar that it will be accepted. In other cases, the board may rely on the sponsoring group (such as a professional organization or one of its local chapters) to evaluate the material and recommend approval and/or the number of PDH's to be awarded.

As a college professor I am somewhat familiar with the rigor and level of instruction needed to complete a college course. There each student expects and is provided a course syllabus and/or outline. Therefore, I have no objection to submitting detailed outlines of seminar offerings for evaluation - either for prior approval or for after-the-fact consideration.

The quality of seminars varies due to many factors. Some topics are more interesting than others and some seminars focus more on training (learning a procedure) while others focus more on education (consideration of the concepts). When a seminar or PDH's are submitted for continuing education credit, those and other issues should be discussed and addressed. And rarely is there a perfect match between points made by the instructor and questions brought by attendees. In some cases the presentation suffers but in other cases a person will "buy" PDH's by signing up for a seminar, attending (or asking someone else to), and then sitting there reading the newspaper or otherwise not paying attention.

My point is responsibility should be shared by instructor and student alike. A negative example: On October 20, 1997, an Ohio Franklin County Municipal Court found the owner of a real estate academy guilty of offering documentation certifying continuing education coursework completion without requiring the licensee to attend the scheduled hours of the course. Possible extenuating circumstances are unknown but a $1000 fine and a 60-day jail sentence (even though it was suspended) serve to illustrate the importance of our collective professional integrity.

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