Certification, licensing and continuing education are complex and vital topics for healthcare professionals.
Each of the following careers has individual requirements for certifications, licensing and continuing education.
To learn more about certification and licensing or continuing education, click here.
Defining The Difference Between A Job And A Profession
The word "profession" is sometimes used as a synonym for "occupation" or "job." A "professional" is sometimes defined simply as a person who gets paid for doing a task, unlike an amateur or a volunteer.
In fact, there's much more to being a professional. According to a definition proposed in the journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine, a profession is "based upon the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills." That knowledge is "used in the service of others."
In the most literal sense, to be a "professional" means professing a commitment to a code of ethics and a standard of practice. In exchange for that commitment, professionals are licensed or certified to do work that others are not allowed to do.
A professional association performs a vital role in defining knowledge, standards and ethics for the profession. In most cases, the association is a primary source for the training that members of the profession need to serve society. The association serves as an advocate for beneficial legislation and regulation to protect both its members and the people they serve.
In short, a profession needs a professional association. And professional associations need the support and participation of their members.
Find your career, find your requirements.
Nursing is one of the healthcare professions that consistently has the greatest number of job openings in Minnesota and across the country. In fact, registered nurses (RNs) — who need a bachelor's degree, associate degree or diploma from an approved nursing program — represent the largest healthcare profession. RNs treat, educate and provide support for patients and their families. They record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, and administer medication. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who typically provide more basic bedside care, must complete a one-year educational program at a vocational or technical school or community college.
Both RNs and LPNs work under physician supervision in many healthcare settings, with a majority of nursing jobs in hospitals. In Minnesota, there are Minnesota Board of Nursing licensing and CE requirements for both LPNs and RNs. The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the relevant professional association.
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: RNs: 24 contact hours every two years. LPNs: 12 contact hours every two years.
For nurses, 50 minutes equals one contact hour, and each additional five minutes is one-tenth of a contact hour. An academic course can be converted to contact hours, with one semester credit equivalent to 15 contact hours and one quarter credit equivalent to 10 contact hours. Nurses may also obtain a current nursing specialty certificate to complete their CE requirements.
Minnesota Board of Nursing contact and online information: 612-617-2270; www.state.mn.us (CE information is under "Licensure.")
ANA online information: nursingworld.org/ce/cehome.cfm
Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA)
Phone: 651-414-2800, 800-536-4662
Address: 1625 Energy Park Drive #200, St. Paul, MN 55108
Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA)
Phone: (952) 897-9093
Address: 7200 France Ave., Ste. 228, Edina, MN 55435
Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses Association/AFSCME
School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM)
Physicians use laboratory tests to help detect, diagnose and treat diseases, and lab technicians conduct the tests using samples of body fluids, cells or tissues. Samples are analyzed under a microscope, chemically analyzed or tested following the growth of a cell culture. For some tests, machines automatically analyze the samples; other tests are done by hand. After the testing process, technicians record, evaluate and send results back to physicians or medical researchers. Technicians also are responsible for setting up, cleaning and maintaining laboratory equipment; measuring and mixing chemicals for standard solutions; and vaccine and serum preparation and testing.
While the Minnesota Legislature has been discussing licensing for this profession, there are no state licensing or continuing education requirements at this time. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) is the relevant professional association.
CE requirement for registration by the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Registration and American Medical Technologists: 36 contact hours every three years
Online information for ASCLS: www.ascls.org
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
Address: 33 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60603
Occupational therapists study human growth and development, and their work involves helping people stay independent and able to participate in normal daily activities. For example, they work with people who must relearn motor skills after a traumatic injury, with autistic children and with elderly people to prevent falls. Relevant professional associations are the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA).
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: 24 contact hours every two years. For occupational therapy assistants, the requirement is 18 contact hours every two years.
Minnesota Department of Health contact: Kim Ruberg, 651-201-3725
MOTA online information: www.motafunctionfirst.org (current CE class offerings in Minnesota are on the right side of the home page)
AOTA online information: www.aota.org/CE.
Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA)
Phone: 651 290 7498
Address: 1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114
Physical therapists use non-surgical approaches to treat orthopedic conditions and all types of injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, burns, wounds, repetitive stress disorders and sports injuries. They also work with patients who have neurologic, cardiopulmonary and circulatory conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure. There are a number of advanced specialty certifications for physical therapy.
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: 20 contact hours every two years. At least 10 of the hours must be pre-approved by the Minnesota Board of Physical Therapy or sponsored by an accredited college, university or medical school or association. Only four hours can be obtained through teaching, lecturing and presentations. The two-year cycle begins on January 1 immediately following the date the license was granted.
State licensing board contact and online information: Stephanie Lunning, 612-627-5406.
Online information for the Minnesota State Board of Physical Therapy: www.physicaltherapy.state.mn.us/ce.asp
Online information for APTA: www.apta.org
Since 1991, Minnesota physicians have been able to delegate prescribing authority to physician assistants who are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A practice setting description and physician-physician assistant agreement must be filed with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, and they must be reviewed and updated annually. The physician accepts full medical responsibility for the performance, practice and activities of the physician assistant.
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: Fifty Category 1 hours every two years, or completion of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) exam during the past two years. The two-year cycle begins on July 1 immediately following the registration date. NCCPA certification is more rigorous, requiring 100 contact hours every two years, 50 of which must be Category 1.
State licensing board contact: Jeanne Hoffman, 612-627-5406
NCCPA online information: www.nccpa.net
Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging exams and administer radiation therapy treatments. There are many specialties within this field, including MRI and CT scanning, bone densitometry, cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography, nuclear medicine and sonography. Radiation treatments for cancer and other diseases are administered by radiation therapists and medical dosimetrists.
While radiologic technologists are licensed in some states, there are no specific licensing or continuing education requirements in Minnesota. However, there is a requirement that x-ray operators be approved by the state. Certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is accepted in Minnesota. The American Society for Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) is the relevant professional association.
CE requirement for ARRT registration: Registration renewal is required every year; the CE requirement is 24 credits every two years. The cycle is based on the registrant’s birth month.
Minnesota Department of Health Radiation Control contact: Kimberly Pappas, 651-201-4545
ARRT online information: www.aart.org (CE links are on the left side of the home page)
ASRT online information: www.asrt.org/Content/ContinuingEducation/_continuingeducation.aspx
American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)
Respiratory therapists perform many important functions in many different healthcare settings. They diagnose lung and breathing disorders and then interview patients and do chest exams to help determine what kind of therapy is best, and they consult with physicians and nurses to recommend changes in therapy. Respiratory therapists analyze breath, tissue and blood specimens to determine levels of oxygen and other gases. They work with high-tech equipment such as ventilators to help patients who can’t breathe on their own. The care they provide ranges from responding to emergencies to educating patients and their families about how to manage lung disease.
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: 24 contact hours every two years. The courses much be approved by the National Board for Respiratory Care or another accrediting organization, such as the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). The two-year cycle begins on the July 1 immediately following the registration date. At renewal time, registrants must report their continuing education credits to the national board.
State licensing board contact: Jeanne Hoffman, 612-627-5406
AARC online information: www.aarc.org/education/crce_app/
Minnesota Society for Respiratory Care (MSRC)
Speech-language pathologists, often called speech therapists, work in educational, healthcare and social work settings. They assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing and fluency. The problems that they deal with sometimes result from stroke, traumatic brain injury or hearing loss.
CE requirement for license renewal in Minnesota: 30 contact hours every two years, at least 20 of which must be directly related to the licensee's area of licensure. For license renewal as both a speech-language pathologist and an audiologist, the requirement is 36 contact hours every two years, with a minimum of 15 hours in speech-language pathology and 15 hours in audiology. The two-year cycle begins on January 1 immediately following the certification date. These are the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) requirements for continuing education
Minnesota Department of Health contact: Gloria Rudolph, 651-201-3726
ASHA online information: www.asha.org/about/membership-certification/certification/FactDef.htm
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