Veterinarian Continuing Education
MANDATORY CONTINUING EDUCATION
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - VETERINARIAN
Effective January 2002, veterinarians must certify that they have completed 36 hours of approved continuing education (CE) to renew their license to practice veterinary medicine in California. The answers to the following frequently asked questions are designed to help veterinarians understand the CE requirements.
1. Who is required to take Continuing Education (CE)?
All California licensed veterinarians who are practicing veterinary medicine in California.
2. When can I start accruing hours?
This depends on your license renewal date. The hours must be earned two years prior to your expiration date. For example:
If your license expires on January 31, 2006, you can count hours earned between February 1, 2004 and January 31, 2006.
3. How many hours are needed?
You are required to complete 36 hours of approved CE for each two-year license renewal period.
4. What is my license "renewal period?"
Your renewal period is two years and runs from the license expiration date to license expiration date. Your license displays its expiration date.
Example: If your license expiration date is 5/31/2006, the renewal period was June 1, 2004, through May 31, 2006. To renew your license in May 2006, you must have completed 36 hours of approved CE within that two-year time period.
5. How is CE related to my license renewal?
You must verify completion of 36 hours of approved CE before your license can be renewed. For the majority of veterinarians renewing in any given month, a mandatory signature on the renewal form is all that is required to verify completion of 36 hours of approved CE. There are different requirements if you are selected for a random CE audit.
6. What if I do not complete the CE by my license expiration date?
If you do not complete the CE by your license expiration date, you may renew as inactive or wait to renew until you have completed the hours. This may result in your license becoming delinquent. Licensees with an inactive or delinquent status must cease practice until such time as they complete the 36 hours of "approved" CE. It is ILLEGAL to practice veterinary medicine in California with an inactive or expired license.
To reinstate your inactive license to a current status you must complete the required hours of approved CE and submit proof of this to the board along with a $25 fee. Courses taken in the current renewal period to satisfy requirements from a previous renewal period cannot be counted again for the current renewal period.
7. Can I get an extension on my renewal if I have not completed the required hours?
No. There is no provision in the law to allow for an extension on a license renewal. The only options would be to renew as inactive or become delinquent until the hours are completed. You cannot practice veterinary medicine with an inactive or delinquent license.
8. Is CE a one-time requirement?
No, it is an ongoing requirement.
9. Can I count hours completed outside my renewal period?
No. The only exception to this is a course taken for a license that is delinquent due to incomplete CE credit, as previously described.
10. What if a course begins in one renewal period but ends in another?
If you take a course that starts in one renewal period but ends in another, those hours will count only towards the renewal period in which you completed the course. The only exception to this is a course taken for a license that is delinquent due to incomplete CE credit, as previously described.
11. How can I work with the CE requirements while residing outside California?
If you reside outside of California, you have two options for working with the CE requirement:
- There are a multitude of statutorily approved providers throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.S. Territories. Information about these providers can be reviewed on the VMB's web site. Courses approved by the nationally recognized American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) are accepted (RACE approved). A list of AAVSB-approved providers is available from the board office or it can be can be downloaded through VMB's web site at http://www.vmb.ca.gov or directly from the AAVSB's web site at http://www.aavsb.org.
- You can request to have your license renewed as inactive by checking the inactive box on the renewal form and submit it with the appropriate fee. Further information on inactive licenses is available in the following FAQ question "How Does an Inactive License Affect CE?"
12. How does an inactive license affect CE?
Licensees with inactive licenses:
- Renew the license biennially;
- Pay the regular renewal fee;
- Do not need to complete any hours of CE for renewal; and
- Are not allowed to practice in California while the license is inactive.
Before you can reactivate your license, you must complete 36 hours of CE in the two years immediately preceding the date you want to reactivate. To renew as inactive, check the appropriate box on your license renewal form and submit it with the appropriate fee.
13. Where can I take courses?
Licensees can take any course offered by an approved provider. A provider must be either statutorily recognized or approved by AAVSB prior to the commencement of a course for that course to count towards your requirements.
14. Can I get a list of providers?
Approved provider information is available through links on the VMB's web site at www.vmb.ca.gov. You can also call the AAVSB at its toll free number 1-877-698-8482 or check its web site at www.aavsb.org to get a list of providers or check the approval status of a provider.
15. What records should I be keeping and for how long?
You need to keep proof of your completed coursework (certificates, transcripts, etc.) for at least four years.
16. Do I turn in proof of coursework when I renew my license?
No. When you renew your license you submit your renewal fee and a signed renewal form. For the majority of veterinarians renewing in any given month, a mandatory signature is all that is required to verify completion of 36 hours of approved CE. There are different requirements for veterinarians selected for a random CE audit. Unless you are selected for a random audit - do not submit your CE course certificates with your license renewal.
17. When do I need to turn in proof of my coursework?
The board will randomly audit licensees. If and when you are audited, you will need to submit proof of your course work, i.e., completion certificates, course logs, transcripts, etc. Remember, you are required to keep CE records for at least four years.
18. What is a "course?"
A course is a form of systematic learning at least one hour in length. One hour is a minimum of 50 minutes. Once the initial 50-minute requirement is met, subsequent time can be counted in one half hour (25 minute) increments. Courses with a total of less than the minimum of 50 minutes will not count. Approved CE courses can be delivered in a variety of modes, including actual class room settings, academic studies, extension studies, conferences, seminars, workshops, distance learning via the Internet, and self-certified self-study courses.
19. How does the VMB define one hour?
For purposes of reporting mandatory CE, 50 minutes constitutes one hour. Courses must be a minimum of 50 minutes for the first hour. Once the minimum of 50 minutes is met, courses can then be counted in one half-hour increments. One half hour is defined as a minimum of 25 minutes.
20. What kinds of courses are acceptable?
Courses relating to the veterinary scope of practice which are approved by the AAVSB and VMB are acceptable. Courses can relate to direct patient/client care or indirect patient/client care (legal issues, consultation, record keeping, office management, insurance matters, supervision, etc.).
21. What kinds of courses are not acceptable?
Courses designed for lay people are not acceptable for professional CE.
22. What is a self-study course?
Self-study courses are ones that are performed at a licensee's residence, office, or other private location. Self-study includes viewing videotapes, listening to audio tapes, or journal reading. This also includes "correspondence online courses". Licensees self-certify these hours by listing the various type of self-study they have completed.
23. How many hours can I gain through self-study courses?
You can accrue up to 6 hours of your CE hours through self-study or non-interactive online courses.
24. How many hours can I gain through Internet classes?
Online Internet class hours are unlimited. All 36 required hours can be completed via "approved" online Internet classes, but at least 30 of those hours must be interactive.
25. What are the requirements for initial licensees?
Initial licensees are individuals who have been licensed in California for less than two years. There are no CE requirements for initial licensees.
26. How many hours can I earn per course?
Each provider sets the course hours. In general, you will earn one hour of CE for each 50 minutes of actual instruction. Once the minimum of 50 minutes is met, course credit can be given in half-hour increments. One half hour increment is defined as 25 minutes.
A licensee can earn a maximum of 24 hours through practice management courses and a maximum of 16 hours while participating as an Expert Examiner with the Veterinary Medical Board.
27. How many hours can I earn for academic courses?
1 semester unit = 15 CE hours
1 quarter unit = 10 CE hours
If audited, transcripts would be required.
28. Can I get credit for teaching a course?
If it is an "approved" course that meets the CE guidelines, you can claim credit for the course. However, you can claim credit for a course only one time during a single renewal period.
29. Are there any provisions for a waiver of the CE requirements?
Yes. You can petition the board for a waiver of the CE requirements, but in the current law, there are only two very narrow provisions for considering a waiver:
- You were absent from California due to military service for at least one year; or
- You or an individual for whom you have primary responsibility suffered from a substantial disability that prevented you from practicing and completing CE for at least one year in your current renewal period.
You must inform the VMB as soon as you know you will need one of the above exemptions. Failure to do so may delay your license renewal.
30. How can I tell if a course will count?
CE providers must be approved either statutorily or by the AAVSB (RACE approved). It is the licensee's responsibility to find out whether the provider is approved prior to taking a course. A list of approved providers is available either through the web site at www.vmb.ca.gov or on AAVSB's web site at www.aavsb.org.
31. Where can I complain if I feel there was something wrong with a course or instructor?
You should first contact the provider of the course to resolve the matter. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, promptly send a written complaint to the VMB office. Include the course name, date, and location, the names of the instructor and provider; and specifics about your complaint.
32. Do temporary licensees have to complete continuing education?
No. Only permanently licensed veterinarians are required to complete continuing education.