Continuing education includes experiences that assist in the professional development of an individual in his or her chosen occupation. These activities may include seminars, conferences or online classes. Continuing education can be measured in two ways -- through credits or hours. Although the terms continuing education credit (CEU) and contact hour (CH), appear to be interchangeable, they are not. They differ in length of time involved in a learning activity and the accrediting organization.
American Nurses Credential Center's Commission on Accreditation
The term "contact hour" is used by the American Nurses Credential Center's Commission on Accreditation (ANCC). As the accrediting agency, the ANCC creates the standards for approved continuing education opportunities. The ANCC plays a role in providing credentialing programs for nurses in specialty practice areas as well as accrediting other providers of continuing nursing education. In addition, the ANCC provides educational services and products that support its core credentialing programs.
The International Association for Continuing Education and Training
The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) is an internationally known accrediting group that creates the standards for various kinds of continuing education and determines the criteria for awarding continuing education credits. The primary purpose of CEUs is to provide a record of educational accomplishments and documentation of ongoing professional development and achievement.
One contact hour (CH) is defined as 60 minutes involved in an organized didactic or clinical learning activity. Examples of learning activities may include workshops, seminars, conferences, study groups, teleconferences, online programs, self-guided study, academic courses and manuals.
Continuing Education Credit
A continuing education credit (CEU) equals 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience. CEUs are awarded by the IACET, which sets the standards for determining whether the learning activity meets the criteria for qualified instruction and responsible sponsorship.
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