Celebrating 25 years of ASHA Continuing Education A 24–7 culture is all around us. News programs run ticker tape at the bottom of the TV screens so they can fit in as much data as possible. Products ranging from computers to cereal are updated or repackaged annually. For good or ill, we live in a time where ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   November 01, 2004
Celebrating 25 years of ASHA Continuing Education
Author Notes
  • Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.
    Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.×
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Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   November 01, 2004
Celebrating 25 years of ASHA Continuing Education
The ASHA Leader, November 2004, Vol. 9, 8-20. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.09202004.8
The ASHA Leader, November 2004, Vol. 9, 8-20. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.09202004.8
A 24–7 culture is all around us. News programs run ticker tape at the bottom of the TV screens so they can fit in as much data as possible. Products ranging from computers to cereal are updated or repackaged annually. For good or ill, we live in a time where it seems everything must be constantly renewed.
In this information age, continuing education clearly is more important than ever. Yet it wasn’t that long ago when continuing one’s education after earning a degree was rare. In fact, up to the early years of the 20th century, professionals such as doctors or lawyers sometimes didn’t even earn degrees-they served apprenticeships instead.
Licensure laws and the health care rehabilitation professions date back to World War I, when returning soldiers needed therapeutic treatment, said Ellen Fagan, ASHA’s Continuing Education (CE) director.
Attention to continued licensure started becoming an issue for health care in the late 1960s. The Bureau of Labor and Education formed a CE task force in 1968. Fagan said, “They needed measurements and a way to document CE. Did participants get a piece of paper or academic credit?” In 1977, the task force incorporated into a nonprofit, the Council on Continuing Education Units, which ASHA joined.
ASHA took the generic standards developed by the task force and added requirements specific to the professions. For example, ASHA added, “Learning outcomes should be related to the science and practice of the profession.” ASHA formed its Continuing Education Registry and Provider Approval program in 1979 and is marking its 25th anniversary this year.
Continuing education (CE) offers professionals a chance to deepen and expand existing knowledge and skills, Fagan said. CE activities provide a place where new trends and cutting edge research and techniques in a particular field can be presented and explored.
“Some statistics say the body of knowledge in the professions changes every three years and approximately 80% of it will be different. This often drives practitioners to specialize because you can’t keep up with every change in every segment,” she said.
From Small Beginnings
In 2003, ASHA’s CE Registry listed 8,000 workshops, conferences, and seminars, provided by more than 450 organizations. More than 55,000 individuals earned ASHA Continuing Education Units (CEUs) last year. It is quite a different picture than in 1980 when a small number of universities provided 129 courses. ASHA had no computers then and kept member records on index cards. CE data was stored on large mainframe computers located in Iowa and monthly data printouts were mailed to ASHA.
These days, ASHA CE providers fall into many different categories. Participants can learn from state and local speech-language pathology and audiology associations, ASHA Special Interest Divisions, ASHA Professional Development programs, hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, school districts, and universities. Other providers are for-profit organizations, such as hearing aid manufacturers and professional continuing education organizations.
A list of approved providers and registered activities is available on the CE portion of the ASHA Web site in CourSearch. Activities offered range from traditional workshops and seminars to Independent Studies, a type of activity designed jointly by the learner and provider to meet the learner’s needs. Venues are conferences, teleconferences, videoconferences, Web-based group events, self-studies, journal study groups, forums, symposia, in-services, study groups, grand rounds, and academic courses. New this year is the Learn & Earn Program, which is designed to offer even more options for earning ASHA CEUs.
The CE Registry also keeps transcripts for those who successfully complete a course offered for ASHA CEUs-defined as 60 minutes of new learning equals .1 CEU. This permanent electronic transcript is maintained for each individual who pays the annual CE Registry fee. The CE Registry is self-sustaining and does not receive any funds from the annual dues paid by ASHA members. More information is available on the CEU page.
Catching the Current
Fagan came on board ASHA’s CE Program in 1988, while working on her doctorate in special education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Her doctorate includes an emphasis in augmentative communication and technology for persons with severe disabilities.
“My dissertation focused on how SLPs learn and how they transfer that learning back to patients,” she said, adding that she thought her background was a good fit for the ASHA CE Program. While on the faculty at the University of South Carolina, she was involved in planning interdisciplinary conferences.
“I was told either to grow the CE program or end it,” she recalled of her first days at ASHA. The program had 2.5 staff persons-a step up from its first four years, when only a half-time employee was dedicated to it. Fagan says she spent the first exhausting couple of years flying around the country, recruiting providers. She worked with professional associations and learned from companies that were in the business of continuing education.
“The provider pool really grew in the ‘80s and ‘90s-it was a snowball effect.” As more providers and courses became available, more members took courses. ASHA’s CE Program also has grown steadily since the 1990s. Instead of actively seeking new providers, now Fagan advises providers who want to join but don’t yet meet ASHA standards.
“I predict the continued expansion of courses offered by providers and the continued trend that providers offer courses on emerging issues and techniques,” she said. Many ASHA providers are offering online CE as well as various innovative formats that appeal to all types of learners. “With the new requirements for audiologists and SLPs to document their continuing professional development to renew their CCC, I predict there will be increased demand from professionals for more courses, easier access to courses, and more courses that meet their individual learning needs.”
The future looks electronic for ASHA’s CE Program. Transcripts should be available online in the next 12–18 months. Work is also underway with the CE Board to streamline registration requirements for providers and to allow them to register courses online. ASHA is also planning on a system to allow providers to send participant CEU information electronically.
Sue Dolan, manager, CE Provider Services, contributed to this article.
Award for Continuing Education

The ACE (Award for Continuing Education) was set up to recognize professionals who hold ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence, or are ASHA members, and who demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning by earning 7.0 ASHA CEUs within a 36-month period. The voluntary program offers several benefits, including the purchase of an optional ACE certificate, a listing of the recipient’s name on the ASHA web site, and notification to the appropriate state association for publication. ACE recipients are eligible for a discount on their malpractice insurance through ASHA. Some individuals have received the ACE as many as 24 times. To date, 18,529 individuals have received 38,192 ACE Awards. Two ACE recipients, Virginia Berry and Anita Halper, are highlighted below.

Virginia Berry, who served as a member of the Continuing Education Board from 2001–2003, is a longtime user of the ASHA CE Registry. She received her masters in audiology from Vanderbilt University and currently serves as assistant professor of audiology at the University of Southern Mississippi-Hattiesburg. In addition, she co-teaches educational rehabilitative audiology to undergraduate and graduate students for the only Deaf Education program in Mississippi. Berry also supervises graduate students in their practicum.

Berry, who has been awarded 11 ACE Awards, attributes her pursuit of continuing education to the drastic changes in the scope of practice in audiology. Tremendous growth in the technology used in the field has occurred during her tenure. Berry said the area of computerized assessment of children birth to age 3 is her current interest.

Anita Halper, a 2002 recipient of the ASHA Honors, has received 22 ACE Awards. As senior education program manager at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Academy (RIOC), she develops and implements continuing education courses for SLPs, as well as interdisciplinary courses targeted to include physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers.

Halper’s duties include overseeing RIOC’s Observership Program, books and publications, and distance learning courses. She is currently involved in research in the area of aphasia. Halper says she is highly motivated to further her learning, especially in the area of neurogenic communication disorders, including theory, diagnosis, interventions and cutting edge research, so that she may better perform her various jobs.

Providers by Type of Organization
  • 21, School
  • 102, College/University
  • 43, Hospital Facility
  • 3, Residential Health Care
  • 67, Non-Residential Health Care
  • 5, Government Agency
  • 9, Research/Scientific Organization
  • 61, Education/Professional Development Co.
  • 105, Professional Association
  • 17, Industry
  • 13, Publications/Communications
  • 1, Other
2003 ASHA CE Registry Users by Type of Employment

More than 130,000 names are on the CE Registry, and 55,000 professionals used it in 2003. The following percentages show the employment settings for these individuals:

52% - Schools

15% - Hospitals

15% - Non-residential health care

6% - Residential health care

6% - Other (research, associations, industry, publications, etc.)

4% - Universities

2% - Government agencies

2003 Statistics

Audiologists who used ASHA CE Registry: 7,019

SLPs who used ASHA CE Registry: 47,601

People who paid ASHA CE Registry fee: 55,159

Courses offered by ASHA CE providers: 7,942

ASHA CEUs awarded: 89,051

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November 2004
Volume 9, Issue 20