Many healthcare workers must continue their education to keep their certification and their jobs. Staying abreast of the latest developments in their fields doesn't only mean taking off work time to sit in a classroom. Area health services strive to offer education when and where it's convenient, including evenings, weekends and online.
Keeping your healthcare career certification means school is never really over. Different careers within healthcare require workers to take a number of continuing education credits every year or so to keep up with the latest developments.
Healthcare workers may take classes to fulfill those credits through their employer or privately, at one of the area colleges that offer healthcare degree or certificate programs.
Logging On For Education
Officials at HealthEast (www.healtheast.org) decided about three years ago to make its online education programs available not only for mandatory education for its entire staff, but for individual professional development, according to De Granstrom, continuing education manager for HealthEast. "We need to provide an opportunity for staff members to get their education when their schedules allow for it," Granstrom explains. "If they choose to take some education programs for their own professional growth, let's provide them the opportunity." Using the in-house system, HealthEast employees log on with their employee numbers and HealthEast keeps track of their credit hours, Granstrom says. HealthEast also provides online access to transcripts for staff members to supply to their certifying organization.
"The beauty of online is that staff members can complete it at their own pace," Granstrom adds. "Online courses range anywhere from 15 minutes long up to an hour."
Workers who prefer not to use the online system may still take classes in person. For instance, HealthEast recently offered a mandatory perinatal safety class during a work day, on an evening and on a Saturday. "We're trying to make it as easy as possible to number one, get the education they're required to get and number two, for them to get the education that they would like to get, and in multiple formats."
Minneapolis Community and Technical College (www.minneapolis.edu) offers several continuing education classes in nursing and counseling, according to Jess Niebuhr, dean for Workforce Development. "Most of what we currently offer is a class at a time. That class will vary from being a few hours long to a couple days long," Niebuhr says. "We're finding that employers don't want employees to be gone for a big chunk of time."
MCTC is studying how to combine a three-to-four hour session with self-study, with the instructor verifying that the student has covered the material. The college also tries not to schedule continuing education classes on Fridays, which would interfere with many hospitals' shift change schedule, according to Niebuhr.
"We try to have a variety of evening offerings, weekend offerings," she says. "For example, we have some critical care courses being offered this spring. Those will all be offered in the evening."