Top five best practices when submitting applications and top five application glitches
It’s the end of one year and the start of a fresh one! We know you want to start the new year on the right foot. Lucky for you, our Continuing Competence team also wants to help you submit applications that meet our standards by letting you know some of the top best practices and some of the top application glitches we have noticed over the years. Both the ACE provider and NJ CE CAP review teams have reviewed hundreds of approval requests and the lists below reflect what the reviewers have found.
Applications that do not meet our standards result in processing delays. If you are an ACE provider, your renewal may be delayed. If you are a NJ CE CAP applicant, your initial course application or course renewal may be delayed. Therefore, we have compiled two lists that we hope shine a light on what many continuing education providers are doing correctly and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Top five best practices found by reviewers:
- Submitting application documents in a clear and logical manner. Application packets should arrive, preferably by email, with clearly labeled sections/documents and a table of contents. (A table of contents is not required for NJ CE CAP applications.)
- Providers creating and using their own document templates to keep course material consistent. Although optional, we find that templates help many providers streamline the course material creation process, ensuring each course meets requirements every time and leaving little room for omissions.
- Assigning a qualified primary point of contact. Your primary point of contact should maintain up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the ACE and/or NJ CE CAP best practices and requirements. In addition, your primary contact person should possess the administrative skills to create and revise documents and communicate promptly and effectively with the ACE and NJ CE CAP review teams while being audited or reviewed for approval.
- Updating courses. ACE providers should review courses periodically to ensure that content and materials (such as references) are up-to-date. Providers of courses approved through NJ CE CAP should review their courses for any necessary updates prior to submitting for renewal. (As a reminder: NJ CE CAP approved courses may not be changed during the two-year approval period.)
- Mocking up materials to meet our specific standards. We require you to show us that you understand our requirements and standards. Therefore, any course or conference materials (including your promo material, evaluations, certificates, etc.) that you submit to us need to meet our current standards. Applicants who make sure their materials meet our standards by reviewing our resource documents before creating or sending us their applications are typically approved much more quickly than other applicants because their applications are less likely to need revision before they can be approved.
Bonus points: While not required, our reviewers like finding providers that display user reviews and ratings on their websites for every course they offer. Social workers looking for courses often request this information.
Top five application glitches found by reviewers:
- Not publishing all required details in the promotional material. The list of requirements for ACE are found here and for NJ CE CAP here.
- Checking all the boxes on the application requirement checklists without including the information itself. Both the ACE and NJ CE CAP applications include a checklist of items we are looking for in your documents. Many providers check the boxes—as if the items are included—but they are not. We expect to find all items on the checklists included in your application.
- Omitting required questions from the course evaluation. We provide a specific list of required questions, all of which must be included in the course evaluation.
- Not ensuring course titles and learning objectives are consistent throughout the course material. Titles and objectives should be identical on all course material, including promotional material.
- Displaying an incorrect or incomplete ACE or NJ CE CAP approval statement. The approval statement should read exactly as it appears in the approval letter and should not be altered in any way.
Summary from ASWB 2017 Education Conference attendees
In our last newsletter, we offered details on what attendees at ASWB’s 2017 Education Conference wished to see more of in social work continuing education. Now you can read more great information and summaries from the conference on the Beyond CE website. We encourage all ACE and NJ course providers to visit the website and learn what regulators from several jurisdictions and attending CE providers discussed about continuing education and continuing competence during the conference.
CE providers may sometimes want or need to create a new version of an active course. Course changes may be made for many different reasons: New information may become available about evidence-based practice in the course’s topic areas, for example, or the provider may choose to cover a certain area in more depth after receiving attendee feedback. In some cases, the course material is becoming outdated, making an overall course review and update necessary. Providers need to be aware that when updating a course, the course title may also need to be changed. ASWB CE program standards do not allow two active courses to be offered under the same title with different content, outline, and/or learning objectives.
This issue often arises when a CE provider has enduring materials. When this occurs, one of the courses must be retired or the newer version must have an additional clarifier added to the name.
Course #1 is titled “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD.” Course #2 is an updated version. The new course could be called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD, Updated.”
In most cases, CE providers must retire the old course once the new course is created to comply with ASWB CE program standards. If you feel you need to keep the old course active, please contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine whether the reason meets ASWB standards. Courses containing outdated information must be retired from use and not offered to new attendees/participants.
Important note: NJ CE CAP providers may not make changes to an approved course without submitting it to the NJ CE Course Approval Program for review and approval as a new course. If you already have a course with the same title as a course you are submitting to the NJ CE Course Approval Program, make sure you note that in your application and let us know your intentions with a statement like, “Once the updated version of this course is approved, we will remove the old course from our website and offer only the new course.”
CE for your course instructors
Did you know that some jurisdictions allow course instructors to earn CE credit for licensure renewal by creating and presenting a CE course? Instructors who request that you provide documentation to submit toward CE credit are responsible for knowing both what is required and what is allowed by their licensing board. You should never provide an instructor with a certificate of attendance for training that they led, because this does not accurately reflect their role. If you are unsure what documentation is needed, contact the instructor’s licensing board for more information. You can find links to specific jurisdiction regulations by running a free report on the ASWB laws and regulations database .