In most states, veterinarians are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education before their license expires. Depending on your state, your license will expire every odd or even year. Continuing education is generally not required for the year in which the initial veterinary license was issued. However, since license renewals happen every two years, new licensee’s will need to complete 20 hours of continuing education, or half of the amount needed to renew.
For most veterinarians, after school is over they join associations and societies. These clubs usually have continuing education conferences, meetings, lectures, courses and more available to their members. Of course, you’ll have to pay membership fees among other fees for continuing education programs, however the benefits are endless when you’re apart of an association or society. Another benefit by joining a club is that most of the continued education programs have already been approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Approval of Continuing Education Programs
The Board approves courses if it determines that the course will make a significant contribution to the professional competency of the veterinarian who has enrolled. The Board also considers whether or not the person who has a teaching responsibility in the course is qualified for the job, and that the content meets the standards set by the Board.
Unfortunately some veterinarians do not complete the continuing education hours in time, and fees are assessed for late renewals. The biggest reason why veterinarians miss the deadline is due to unapproved continuing education credits. For these veterinarians, it may be a wise choice to contact RACE, Registry of Approved Continuing Education beforehand. RACE is the national clearinghouse for the approval of continuing education providers and their programs. All RACE-approved providers and programs are listed on the AAVSB website. Either way all veterinarians need to make sure the program and provider they choose for continuing education has been approved by their states board of veterinary medical examiners.
Most states have a list of programs for veterinarians and veterinary technicians that contains organizations who are already approved by the board to offer continuing education programs. Checking with your state can be a great starting point when choosing continued education programs since they have ‘automatic approval’ statuses.
Self-Study Continued Education
Some states allow you to gain continued education credits by self study. The process of getting these credits approved can be much more tedious and time consuming. The content must pertain to the practice of veterinary medicine and you must give a presentation, include a written examination or post evaluation. Unfortunately, credits are limited to 20 hours per biennial renewal period for veterinarians, and 8 hours for veterinary technicians.
Continuing Education Certificates
In some states, a veterinarian is not required to submit a copy of their continuing education certificates at the time of renewal. Instead, you swear or affirm under the penalties of perjury that you have completed the continuing education requirements. The veterinarian then must keep records of the credits for at least 3 years from the end of the licensing/registration period. After the renewal, a limited number of veterinarians will then be randomly selected to an audit for those records. Continued education certificates must contain the following information:
- Name of participant
- Name of the sponsoring organization
- Title of the program
- Date of the program
- Location of the program
- Number of CE hours awarded