Whether you’re managing recent rehab therapist grads or seasoned professionals, their education is never done—nor should it be. After all, new developments in everything from evidence-based care and operational best practices to patient relationship building and referral generation are constantly coming to light. So, the very best way to ensure that your therapists are practicing at the top of their game is by providing them with access to the very best continuing education resources around. Sure, you could leave it up to each individual therapist to find and pay for his or her own courses—it is a state licensure requirement, after all. But if you want to hire and retain the very best talent—and thus, provide the very best care to your patients—then you may want to seriously consider offering continuing education benefits to your employees. Here’s why:
1. It ensures therapists are up to speed on current best practices.
Perhaps the most important reason to provide continuing education benefits to employees is the fact that you’ll know, without a doubt, that your therapists are learning crucial skills and clinical knowledge that will benefit your patients—and your practice. Having expert-level PTs, OTs, and SLPs who are up-to-date with the latest industry trends, research, and treatment protocols will not only set your practice apart from the rest, but also empower your patients to achieve better outcomes. And, if you’re monitoring those outcomes using integrated outcomes tracking software, you’ll be able to easily capture that data and use it to better market your practice to prospective patients, fellow providers, and payers. And that could, in turn, improve patient acquisition and referral relationships, which could end up boosting your bottom line. In other words, the continuing education courses you provide to your staff members may very well pay for themselves.
Just be sure you don’t get so caught up with the marketing value of your staff’s courses that you only offer CEUs that come with certifications—without first evaluating the quality (or source) of the information being presented. In fact, we’d recommend choosing CEU courses with a greater purpose in mind—and thinking beyond paying for certifications simply to add letters to each clinician’s alphabet soup. Ultimately, it’s the quality and relevancy of the knowledge the therapists gain during their con-ed courses that will have the biggest impact on your practice and your patients.
2. It’s a benefit differentiator.
As WebPT’s Charlotte Bohnett points out in this post, as a result of the 8,000 baby boomers who are reaching retirement age each day—and the fact that younger generations are prioritizing preventive health, functional movement, and general wellbeing more than ever before—“the healthcare market [and specifically rehab therapy] has never been more saturated with consumers.” To keep up with that demand, many clinic owners and administrators are on the search for the very best rehab therapy talent—and that means the very best rehab therapists have a lot of options when it comes to potential employers. Providing continuing education courses is an extra benefit that can help entice top-tier talent to hang up their hats—and contribute their expertise—at your place of business. And bringing top talent on board can help you improve patient experience, satisfaction, engagement, and outcomes—as well as enhance your relationships with other providers. In other words, it’s a big win for everyone involved.
When WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, was a clinic director, she made a point of paying for her staff’s APTA dues and continuing education units—and that was in addition to providing standard health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance. “To me, a good benefit package satisfies the needs of your employees and puts your company at a competitive advantage to other similar companies in your market,” Jannenga said. And a good benefit package can be especially important to millennials, who often seek out job opportunities that come with added perks.
3. It creates a culture that values knowledge and professional growth.
Once you bring talented therapists on board, it’s incredibly important to keep them—and that requires an excellent company culture. As Jannenga has said many times before, you’re going to create a culture—“regardless of whether you’re actively trying to or not.” That’s why she highly recommends that all organizations create their culture consciously and intentionally by identifying several core tenets, values, or principles to use as guideposts when making business decisions—big or small. Now, no matter which core values you land on for your practice, we would lay a wager that knowledge and professional growth are probably included—or at least alluded to. Well, offering continuing education benefits is a perfect way to align with those values and solidify that aspect of your company culture. After all, your employees are going to look to management for cues as to what’s valued in your organization—and the things you spend money on send some pretty clear signals.
Providing continuing education benefits to employees can also encourage knowledge exchange and camaraderie among employees—especially if you create an environment in which therapists are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with fellow staff members. This can be easily accomplished during lunch-and-learn-style gatherings or as a part of your regularly scheduled team meetings.
Putting it into Practice
We know that salary and benefits are the top expense line-items for most PT, OT, and SLP practices—and you may not have a huge budget to work with. But with a little creativity, you can provide—or at least subsidize—continuing education units for your employees. One cost-effective way to do so is by providing access to online CEUs, which are much less expensive than their in-person counterparts. Plus, therapists can complete online CEUs anywhere—from any Internet-enabled device. That means they won’t need to travel—so you won’t need to find temps to take their place. And, they won’t be limited to the classes that are available in their particular geographic region; instead, they’ll be able to choose from a myriad of interesting and relevant courses—all taught by industry experts. Plus, depending on the CEU platform you use, your therapists can have forever access to their course materials, which means they can go back and review them—and share what they learned with their teams. You’ll also be able to to track your therapists’ progress toward state and industry continuing education requirements, which can remove a big administrative burden. Plus, you’ll have easy access to your staff members’ CEU transcripts should you need to demonstrate course completion in the event of an audit.
We here at WebPT are very passionate about improving the nature of continuing education for the rehab therapy industry, which is why we recently launched our own CEU platform, WebPT CEU. To learn more about how WebPT CEU makes CEU completion and tracking a better all-around experience for PTs, OTs, and SLPs—as well as clinic owners, administrators, and managers—click here.
What do you think about employers paying for staff CEUs? As an employee, would you be more likely to accept a job if the company covered your continuing education as part of your benefits package? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.