Dissertation Abstract

Required Continuing Education for Selected Health Care Professionals in Oregon: an Attitude and Needs Assessment With Implications for Higher Education.

Publication Number:  AT8101855
Author:  Westby, Harold
School:  University Of Oregon
Date:  1980
Pages:  131
Subject:  Radiologic Technology, Continuing Education

This study is designed to deal with the issue of state required continuing education as a condition for relicensure of selected health care professionals in Oregon. The purpose of the study is to provide pertinent information regarding certain characteristics, attitudes, educational needs and expectations, and requirement-related problems of those selected individuals. The four health care groups selected for investigation and analysis are dental hygienist, emergency medical technicians, nursing home administrators and radiologic technologists. The individual licensees within these groups have several things in common. They are over eighteen years of age, high school graduates, employed in professional/technical fields that do not require any kind or level of college degree, and are regularly engaged in some form of learning experience. Although there exists a substantial body of literature that addresses various aspects of continuing education, very little of it is pertinent to the specific purpose of this study. Since 1970, continuing professional education has received increasing attention in the literature. However, the relatively recent phenomenon of state required continuing professional education is just beginning to generate appreciable research interest. The study begins with an overview of the broad area of continuing education in order to establish a frame of reference. Within the general frame, attention is then focused on the more specific field of continuing professional education. The introduction concludes with a description of the movement toward state required continuing education for renewal of professional licenses, both nationally and within the state of Oregon.

Based on the review of pertinent literature, a questionnaire was developed which included both open and closed-ended items. The response-category format provided for three levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal and interval. Extensive use was made of the scaling technique developed by Likert. The instrument was mailed to ten practitioners randomly selected from each of the four professional groups for the purpose of validation. Analysis of the pre-test resulted in several changes in both content and format. Of the 775 instruments mailed, 507 were returned for a response rate of 65.4%. The highest percentage of return (70.5%) was from dental hygienists with the lowest (61.0%) coming from emergency medical technologists. The responses were coded and tabulated by computer using a specially designed program. Frequency and percentage of response were tabulated for all items. Where appropriate, mean and standard deviation were computed. With respect to attitudes toward required continuing education for renewal of license, the majority of respondents (over 80%) agreed that required continuing education was in the best interest of the public, their respective professional groups and themselves as individual practitioners. Eighty-four percent indicated they would take the necessary means to maintain their competence and skills without being required to do so. The most popular method of fulfilling continuing education requirements was determined to be the short-term conference. The method with the least appeal was a written examination in lieu of classwork. Respondents identified distance to location of classes as creating the greatest difficulty in meeting continuing education requirements. Following in degree of difficulty were the times classes are scheduled and the total amount of time required.

The survey results have several important implications for higher education. First, over 50% of the respondents stated that they were contemplating a career change within the next ten years. Second, 76% indicated a desire to pursue a two-year, four-year, or advanced degree depending upon their current level of formal education. Finally, regular credit classes at two-year and four-year institutions received strong appeal ratings as methods of fulfilling continuing education requirements.

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