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Why Continuing Medical Education is Key to Mental Health Professionals

By LifeStance Health on February 16, 2022

At LifeStance, we work with all kinds of mental health providers, and we know that the one thing they all have in common is how dedicated they are to caring for others. We admire this dedication and try to support our providers with the same kind of dedication. Part of that effort is making sure that we can add value through our professional relationship.

Today, we would like to talk about Continuing Medical Education (CME). Every kind of therapist, counselor, and mental health professional needs to continue their education. Many states and licensing boards require mental health professionals to obtain CME or CEU credits to stay licensed, and we always suggest checking your state requirements regularly as they often change. But beyond requirements, CME is still the best way to maintain, develop, and increase your knowledge, skills, and professional performance to better serve patients, the public, and your profession.

From our point of view, we are seeing the narrative around mental health changing for the better every day. More people are seeing the need to address their mental illnesses, and are seeking out the many forms of treatment our mental health professionals offer. We are proud of the ever-growing list of providers affiliated with LifeStance, and we are proud of our role in helping people find relief.

There are many learning opportunities available during your professional career, and the best way to choose which ones to pursue is to think about what you are required to study, and what you and your patients would most benefit from studying. According to  ACCME’s 2020-2021 Highlights Report, new accommodations and resources were offered to help the accredited education community adapt to new circumstances. The continuing medical education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 6.7% during the period 2020−2026. COVID-19 has positively impacted the CME programs market, thus boosting the demand for CME programs, particularly on online platforms.

Maintaining Your License

Licensing requirements vary by state, and professional licensing boards are usually specific on the types of CME credits required. They usually require a minimum number of CME credit hours per year, and they may specify if those credits have to be achieved via live courses (courses where you can interact in real-time) or home study courses (video recordings, reading materials, etc.). The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) represents the nation’s state medical boards, and can give you direction on how to satisfy your continuing education credit requirements.

Resource for Requirements by State:

Federation of State Medical Boards https://www.fsmb.org/fcvs/state-requirements

Maintaining Your Board Certification

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers a wide variety of activities to help you achieve your board certification requirements. They have an online resource for completing and tracking CME, as well as a self-assessment, and professional development activities.

Resource:

Online Learning

Online learning courses are a convenient way for mental health professionals to access quality education resources; you can learn more about treatment modalities, current research, and specific behavioral health conditions; and expand your clinical skills. These courses allow you to learn as you go, and obtain knowledge that you may be able to immediately apply in your practice. Courses, conferences, seminars, and webinars are offered by colleges, institutes, and various health networks, with some offered free of charge. Online classes are often self-guided and available 24/7 to accommodate your schedule.

Resources for Finding Online CME Courses:

Conferences

There are so many ways we can support our careers as we support those with mental health conditions. Attending a conference is one of the best ways to keep up to date on the various mental health issues that are prevalent today, and to discover up-and-coming treatments. Medical conferences give you the added benefit of being able to interact firsthand, and to network with your fellow mental health professionals.

Resources to Find Conferences That Offer CME Credits:

As each of us knows, all education holds value. We hope that you will get some value from this post and that you will continue to look to LifeStance as a resource for other valuable insights, as well as for career enrichment.