Increase Student Enrollment in Your Classes by Becoming a Continuing Education Provider

Would you like to know a “secret” about how you can expand student enrollment and earn credibility as a teacher in the holistic health field? Read along and find out how becoming an approved continuing education (CE) provider can open doors for you as an educator. I will share valuable information and tips that I learned while navigating this process successfully with several state and national boards.I began teaching Reiki in 1996 soon after completing my training. At first I really had no plans to teach Reiki, but a coworker of mine announced that I was going to be her Reiki teacher. There began my journey of teaching Reiki. After my first class, I began letting people know that I was a Reiki teacher. Many of my first students were either massage therapists or nurses. They would always ask if I could provide them continuing education hours. Since I never needed CE hours, I really did not understand how that system worked, who I needed to contact, or what was required of me in order to apply for becoming an approved provider. One of my students gave me the number to the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodyworkers (NCBTMB) and my journey into the world of CE began.After talking to one of NCBTMB’s representatives, I received a very thick package in the mail. It was filled with forms to fill out about my credentials, my business, and information about each class for which I was seeking approval. I copied the package for my friend that I was co-teaching with at the time. The information sat on our desks for over six months because it looked very intimidating. We finally put aside some time and completed the process in three days. We got reviewed each other’s work, made our copies and mailed them. About two months later we received our certificate of approval in the mail. The process has changed since 1997 when we first received our approval; however, the benefits are the same.Benefits of Being a CE ProviderThere are several benefits to becoming a CE provider. Your enrollment will mostly increase when the professionals that you are approved to give CE hours to find out about your classes. If the professionals taking your classes enjoy their experience, they will spread the word throughout their network. Imagine free marketing! Many professionals are looking for holistic health classes that give CE hours because they can use these skills for their personal well-being as well as for their professional use. Another benefit to becoming an approved provider is that the approval from a national or state board adds credibility to you and your programs or classes. Being a CE provider gives you the opportunity to get your name out into the professional circles. This could open opportunities for you to teach or speak in hospitals, massage schools, community colleges, conferences or in other arenas. I have spoken at a state nursing conference, to social work groups and various networking groups. I have been invited to teach at massage conferences and on cruise ships. All of were due to my ability to provide CE hours. The possibilities are endless.Investigate the RequirementsThere are many national and state boards that require their licensed or certified professionals to acquire CE hours. Most massage therapists need 24 CE hours every two years. Many acupuncturists, nurses, social workers, occupational and physical therapists need CE hours. Most information regarding the boards that need CE hours can be found online. There is no one place that you can go online to get information about all of the boards. However, the book Navigating the Continuing Education Approval Process that I recently updated provides a wealth of information directing you to the resources that you need.Before you fill out all of the paperwork to become a provider, read their requirements. Make sure that you meet their criteria and that you are willing to fulfill the follow-up requirements of record keeping and maintain the ethical standards that they require before you begin.Each career field has a separate board, either at the national or state level. A good place to start is to ask what professions are represented in your classes. Do you have massage therapists, social workers, acupuncturists or physical therapists? Start with one group and find the proper approval authority. You can find them online or ask one of your students for the website of their board. Ask your students if it is a national or state board. In some cases the answer might be both a national and state approval authority. I would start at the state level if this were the case. From my experience I find that state boards request less documentation for approval. When you get on a board’s website look for any buttons or links for continuing education. This will be your pathway to their requirements and forms. Download the forms onto your computer and fill them out.Find out if your state has a requirement for the professionals that you want to provide CE hours. Some states do not require their massage therapist, nurses, or acupuncturists to acquire continuing education. After receiving provider status for nurses I found out that in my state nurses, in general, did not need CE hours. By seeking further information, I learned that nurses that had specialized skills such as oncology, pediatrics, etc, did need CE hours. So I had to gear my marketing to the nurses that needed the CE hours.Tips for Embracing the ProcessAlthough this process may sound like a lot of work, there is a lot that you can do to make the process go smoothly. Here are some of the things you should have on hand as you undergo this process. Each board is going to ask you for copies of your certificates that show that you are qualified to teach your subjects. You will also need to provide learning outcomes, teaching strategies, and time frames for each component of each your classes. If you have a good outline that you use in teaching, this will prove to be invaluable for filling out this portion of the form. You will need to create an evaluation for each of your classes. Most boards provide an example. Model your evaluations after theirs because they consider their example as acceptable.Good clear writing is so important when filling out the forms. You want to look professional to the board that is going to approve you, so do not send poor writing or unreadable copies of your supporting materials to the boards. When you are describing your Reiki classes use concrete words to describe how and what you are going to teach. Do not make it sound mysterious or “woo woo.” The boards are not looking to unravel a mystery or approving something that cannot be described adequately.Undertake one board’s approval paperwork at a time. The work that you do for the first one will make all others a bit easier because you will have all the information already written up. You will just have to tweak it a little for the board that you are applying to. Keep paper copies of what you sent to the boards. You never know when your computer is going to fail. If something seems unclear ask questions by sending the board an email or giving them a call. It is better to ask than to send them the wrong documentation and be denied or have to redo sections of your submissions.Fortunate for you at this time, many of the holistic health course, such as Reiki, Healing Touch, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, etc., has been approved by most of these boards that I am speaking of. When I sought to have my Reiki classes approved I was in a ground-breaking process because a lot of the boards had not even heard of Reiki. Even though Reiki is a class that the boards approve, you are seeking approval for how you teach your Reiki program.You can also seek approval for the other workshops that you teach if they are relevant to the professionals. I have had all of my Reiki classes as well as my meditation, medical intuition, chakra, and How to Create a Successful Holistic Health Practice workshops approved as well. I have seen classes such as yoga, shiatsu, and energy medicine approved by the boards.After ApprovalAfter approval you will need to consider how you are going to market your classes to the professionals that you can provide CE hours. Ask the professionals that you want to teach where is the best place to advertise. You will also need to provide a certificate to those getting CE hours that is separate from your Reiki certificate. This certificate must include your name and approval number, participant’s name, the amount of CE hours earned and the date completed. You will need to keep records of who has taken your course and keep those records for up to five or more years. Most boards require that you renew every two to three years. Make sure you mark on your calendar when it is time for you to renew because some boards will not notify you.It amazes me to see how many of the medical professionals are seeking holistic health classes mainly for their own personal healing. After working years in such demanding careers their bodies are tired, rundown, and in need. It is an honor to teach to these professionals who can take Reiki a step further into the mainstream. As a CE provider you have the opportunity to empower others to heal and to help others offer a non-invasive modality. When the medical professionals offer Reiki as part of their services, Reiki and other holistic health modalities gain further acceptance and credibility in the medical circles. We increase our own credibility and student turnout when we obtain CE provider status. Becoming a CE provider can be an arduous task, but the rewards are worth the outcome.