Behind the Scenes: Continuing Education

Janet Wilbur, senior program manager, and Natalie Standig, program manager of Salus University’s International and Continuing Education (ICE) department, are master multitaskers. It is essential for them to be so, as their department manages continuing education (CE) and international courses from inception to execution by supporting the logistics and administrative responsibilities for the entire University. 

CE Event at Salus UniversityThe department works in collaboration with the University’s individual Colleges to develop, promote, and implement educational initiatives that improve health and well-being worldwide.

At any given time, ICE has multiple projects in process to ensure the University offers an array of courses to meet CE requirements for professionals to obtain or sustain licenses in the optometry, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, speech-language pathology, and audiology professions. ICE also runs programs of interest or trending topics when applicable to the University’s alumni.
“We do a lot of background work that people aren’t aware of,” said Wilbur. ”They come to a CE event, they get their credits, and that’s it. They don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes.” And, according to Standig, it’s exactly how it should be: “The programs have a lot going on all the time, so our department is able to step in and take some work off of [the programs] and help with the logistics to make CE courses [come to fruition].”

While running the courses from “soup to nuts,” perhaps the most critical task is obtaining accreditation credits and approvals for each individual course and profession. Wilbur said, tongue - in - cheek, that the department is also known as the “stalking department” due to the amount of follow-ups and check-ins they must do to stay on top of the accreditation process. It can be cumbersome, with multiple steps in order to create the course, plan an activity as required, and receive  accreditation in a timely manner that are key factors in whether or not the course comes to fruition. 

ICE travelled a long and twisted road to become the department it is today. Originally starting out as the Center for International Studies (CIS) when Salus University was a single purpose institution - Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) - it then became Continuing Education Services (CES), but for many years optometry CE programs still remained the focus. When Salus University was established in 2008, the department was renamed to Professional Studies and International Programs (PSIP). On July 1, 2015, the department had a final name change and became ICE, which is also the year Dr. Melissa Vitek was appointed director. It was then that the department was charged with branching out beyond optometry to support the logistics and administrative responsibilities for continuing education for the entire University. In order to do so, Dr. Vitek implemented formal CE policies based upon the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)’s requirements for Salus to become ASHA-approved CE administrators. “As ASHA’s requirements for accreditation are the strictest, we were able to use their requirements to create our own policy that requirements from additional accrediting bodies can fall under,” said Dr. Vitek.  

Because Optometry is the oldest program, its CE program is the most robust. However, with the recently developed CE advisory board, the University’s other programs are quickly catching up with developing their own CE events, each with approval from their specific accreditation body organizations. The board, consisting of at least one representative from each program across the University, was originally formed in December of 2016 and meets quarterly. It acts as  a forum to discuss aspects that work, things that can be improved, and ideas for possible program collaboration.  The newest and exciting task for ICE is an inter-professional (IP) event on clinical supervision which will involve every program from the University. 

SLP CE Event at Salus
Without fail, some programs are run annually or biannually, and there is often a variety of additions depending on the need. The four consistent Optometry programs are Excellence in Education, Dynamic Duos, Current Trends in Optometry, and Optometric Education. Another annual program ICE supports is the University’s Osborne College of Audiology’s Summer Workshops. They’ve also run programs for Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Studies, and an increased amount for Speech-Language Pathology. Recently, ICE helped Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) become accredited to offer CE, and have programs on the horizon.  

An addition to this year’s CE roster is related to the opioid epidemic. Pennsylvania recently passed a mandate that any medical professional who prescribes opioids and is up for license renewal must take a two-hour opioid education course, which is being held on May 31 through June 2.

Perhaps the course Wilbur is most excited about, also new this year and one that she references to as her ”baby,” is the New Jersey Oral Credentialing Course. In order for optometrists to apply for a license in New Jersey, an applicant must complete 24 hours of lecture, pass a written examination and take six hours of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/automated external defibrillator (AED). Once the optometrist has successfully completed the requirements, Salus University will report it to the New Jersey Board of Optometry. Salus is one of only two universities offering the course. 

Standig’s favorite events are those when University faculty use the CE events as an initial sounding board for upcoming presentations. “I like when we highlight our own faculty members, and I think that’s important because they do a lot of research and are getting published externally,” she said.

When a program uses CE as a marketing tool, it can help dramatically to get the name of the program or its clinical facility to the public and stay connected to the community. “It also helps get preceptors for the clinical sites,” said Vitek.  

As of now, there are more than 20 programs scheduled for this year, and ICE is always on the lookout to add new programs. ”We are truly devoted to supporting the University,” Wilbur said.

View Schedule of Upcoming CE Courses