Continuous research in the field of psychology makes it necessary for a person in a psychology career to continue his or her education throughout the life of his or her career. This professional development is maintained by accruing credits of continuing education (CE).
CE activities can take the form of a conference, online course, review of publications, or participation in some form of electronically available training. The content for CE activities is put together and presented by psychologists and researchers who are experts in the material. Typically, at the outset of the presentation, there is a disclosure of financial backing as it may relate to the material. For example, a psychologist’s research might be funded in part by a pharmaceutical company. Any presentation of research by that psychologist must include a conflict of interest disclosure.
CE activities can serve as outlets for researchers to share their discoveries with colleagues and disseminate new information as it may relate to everyday practice. Some psychologists may choose to engage in CE activities outside their areas of expertise to keep current in other fields. For example, a psychologist that focuses in education may benefit from CE activities focused in pediatrics as this may aid in his or her practice as well.
Aside from the clear advantage of staying current on psychological research through CE activities, many states require psychologists to accrue CE credits in order to keep their licenses current. For example, California requires thirty-six hours of CE activities each time one’s license is renewed. Furthermore, the state of California dictates how those credits are accrued. While 75 percent of CE activities can be accrued via independent learning, the remaining 25 percent must be completed via instruction whereby the psychologist and the instructor are face-to-face.
CE activities are available through a variety of means. Attendance of a conference can be a source of CE credit. Additionally, many websites keep listings of available online courses. Professional societies, like the American Psychological Association (APA) also have course offerings. Another source of CE credit activities may come from for-profit sources, such as pharmaceutical companies or laboratories. While some may consider this last source to be problematic in terms of conflicts of interest, it can still be beneficial to psychologists to have exposure to these activities.
CE activities allow psychologists to continue their training in the field through conferences and online course offerings. It is advantageous for psychologists to keep abreast of the latest research and also may be a requirement to maintain state licensure.