Posted on 04-Jan-17
The Philosophy of Regulating Continuing Education image
Philosophy of Regulating Continuing Education

IACET Accreditation is recognized by numerous governmental regulatory groups.  These regulatory groups understand the importance of maintaining a quality framework for education offered in a profession.   In this blog post, we will examine the philosophy of regulating continuing education.

When patients go to a doctor, how do they know the doctor is competent to practice medicine?  When consumers purchase a home, often the biggest purchase of a lifetime, how do they know the real estate agents are competent and won’t violate the trust placed in them? When a group of construction workers install scaffolding above a busy walkway, how is the public assured those individuals are competent to take on such a risky task? 

Licensure and mandatory professional education is the answer to those questions. Almost every major trade group from accountants, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, engineers, etc. have some type of regulatory framework governing them. A part of that framework involves mandatory pre-license education and requires periodic mandatory CE to ensure licensees meet minimal standards to practice their profession.  Those individuals charged with establishing and/or enforcing those education standards we shall call regulators.  It is understood that many industries have their education standards set by legislators. Regulators then extrapolate and administer policy that best implements the desire of the legislature. However, legislators often have limited experience in the industries they are affecting and depend on practitioners to guide and counsel them in decision making.  For purposes of this paper, we will define regulators has a group that may operate separately and under the authority of a federal, state or provincial legislature. Regulatory groups manifest themselves in different jurisdictions as professional boards, councils, and/or commissions.

Regulators are hired, elected, and/or appointed to serve in a regulatory capacity for an industry.  Typically, highly qualified industry practitioners are chosen for esteemed positions on regulatory boards, councils, and commissions.  With the honor of holding a position on a regulatory body also comes great responsibility. The task of protecting an industry or profession is no small task. Regulators define minimum standards for their profession and grant or deny individuals the ability to practice their trade. 

Regulators normally require licensees to complete a certain amount of education each licensing period to meet minimum standards. For example, across the United States, on average, real estate licensees have to complete 12 hours of CE annually to maintain their professional license.  Some jurisdictions require more, while others less. The amount of CE also varies from industry to industry. Industries like accounting, on average, require more CE of their licensees when compared with others.

With law requiring continuing education, how does a regulatory agency ensure the integrity of the education it approves?  How can regulatory agency staff who are constantly being asked to do more with less streamline the course approval process and improve the education in their profession?  How can a regulatory agency maintain its reputation as an efficient, relevant and effective overseer of professional education to protect the public interest? These questions and more are answered in IACET’s new white paper available now at IACET.org/regulatory.

This blog post is an expert from IACET’s Guide to Ensuring Integrity in Professional Education Programs available free at IACET.org/regulatory.  Those who are interested can also watch a new video explaining how IACET can help ensure the integrity of professional programs at no cost to a regulatory agency.

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