HOW TO BUDGET YOUR TIME AND MONEY WISELY
The costs of being a health care professional include registration, licensure, membership fees … the list goes on. As a consultant dietitian, and a part-time one at that, I have to be careful to budget for all those costs, including continuing professional education (CPE).
THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Attending big annual meetings is expensive and in today’s market, many employers cannot pay any of the costs. These include national meetings, like the Academy’s annual event FNCE, as well as state conferences (find your state affiliate here).
Granted, you do get a lot of bang for your buck at these meetings: a huge range of continuing professional education opportunities, networking possibilities, some fun activities thrown in and so much more. If you can go, I say GO – just register early to save money. As you can often fulfill most of your five year CPE requirements at such meetings, they can be very valuable.
IF YOU CAN’T TRAVEL OR TAKE TIME OFF
If travel to meetings isn’t a reality for you, what else can you do? There are so many great options right at our finger tips, and many are free or budget-friendly.
Here are some of my faves:
1. Food and Nutrition Magazine. This is the one that comes as part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics membership. Even if you are not a member, the annual fee for just this magazine is only $15 (foodandnutrition.org/subscribe).
Each bimonthly issue offers 2 CPE units, so if you read all the issues in a year, you’ll earn 12. And the magazine is bursting with current information from new food products and app reviews, to recipes – it’s a fun way to stay on top of trends while meeting your requirements. If you do this for all 5 years of your plan, you’ll net 60 CPE self-study units.
Depending on your learning plan, this may not meet all of your specific requirements, but can contribute significantly. It will also up your nutrition savvy and keep you clued in to what is going on more broadly in the field so that even if you specialize in nutrition support, and a friend asks you about instant pots, you’ll likely have something to contribute.
2. Another favorite, American Society for Nutrition, offers free webinars on a variety of subjects. One I really liked was a 4-part series on the gut microbiome. These webinars are of excellent quality, and the live webinars allow questions to be asked. Here in the sunshine state, 10 hours of continuing education must be live. I know other states have similar requirements and live webinars usually meet that need.
Of course there are a number of independent companies that provide self-study materials for purchase. I’ve done many of these over the years, ranging from a popular book with a test, to live courses online.
3. Many CPE providers offer freebies – often an hour or two of CPE – and these do add up. One of my go-to’s is Skelly Skills. They offer a selection of free CPE and also a “deal of the day” (and no I am not getting paid or free CPE for this!). Since most providers will offer some sort of special, be sure to check their sites periodically.
My last suggestion: pace yourself to get about 15 CPE units a year. Waiting until very late may cost you more, possibly a lot more!
Karen Lindell, MS, RDN, LDN is an experienced professional who is passionate about nutrition education, health promotion and wellness for individuals, families, and healthcare professionals. She has experience in clinical nutrition, research, public health, education and communications. She loves writing and is a published author in a wide range of materials, from blog posts to scholarly journals. Karen lives in the central Florida area and is teaching nutrition and wellness classes as part of a work-site wellness program.
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