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How to Evaluate Continuing Education Programs

Continuing education opportunities are often available at conferences and trade shows, such as Face & Body® Midwest ( in Chicago, which offers continuing education units for those with Illinois esthetic licenses. The 2012 Advanced Education Conference Program kicked off with a panel discussing industry regulations and featured: from left: Terri Wojak,True University Esthetics; Lynn Maestro, Cirepil & Escential Perron Rigot/IBSG llc.; Alex Thiersch, Thiersch & Associates; and Irena Brown of YG Laboratories.

By: Susanne S. Warfield
Posted: June 1, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

After graduating from esthetics school, skin care professionals have a responsibility to continue their education. Whether this is because it is required by the state in order to maintain their esthetics license, or because, as professionals, they must stay up to date with the treatments, trends, infection control standards, rules and regulations of the skin care industry. If you don’t do this, your clients will notice and your business will suffer. Continuing education programs advertise to existing and potential clients that you are constantly updating your skills. No profession stands still; scientific and technological advancements occur in the skin care industry every year that require new skill sets to be learned. Also, for optimum salary potential, many employers are beginning to mandate continuing education certificates as a requirement for advancement.

After you’ve made the professional decision to stay on the cutting-edge of advances in the industry, it is important to ask the right questions of those organizations providing continuing education programs. Following are some typical questions that may come up in the process of choosing what continuing education program is right for you.

Q. What are the objectives of the program?

A. Before spending money on any education, request to review a written curriculum and/or a class overview with stated objectives, especially if the course you are attending is for state-mandated continuing education hours. For longer courses—those that are more than four hours—a curriculum should contain the time allotted for each segment, especially if the program is divided into theoretical and practical.

Q: Is there a certificate of completion to be awarded at the end of the program? If yes, is there a test or a method in place to ensure minimal competency?

A. Although tests are not a mandatory requirement for most state-directed continuing education programs, it is always a good measure of attendee comprehension. If a test is to be included in the educational activity, usually a multiple-choice test design is used. A passing score of 75% or higher is often a benchmark; however, check with your provider or state for their required passing standard.

Q. Is the content contained in the educational activity relevant to the skin care professional?

A. Some educational programs may involve a wide body of generally recognized knowledge and skills. Due to state regulatory board scope of practice regulations, it is recognized that not all educational activities will be permitted in all states. It is further recognized that due to specialties and subspecialties found in the skin care industry, all audiences may be not be suitable for the educational activity. An example of this would be a laser light therapy continuing education activity. Because most states have no statutes, or rules and regulations on this issue, a continuing education program may not meet state regulatory guidelines.

Q. Is the continuing education program faculty required to complete a disclosure form? If yes, where can it be accessed?