As a busy professional, there are many reasons you may prefer to complete your continuing education requirements via home study.
However, home study can often seem like a good idea until you begin trying to fit it into your day-to-day routine. Here are some tips that will help you make sure you get the most out of your home study courses.
Make sure the courses you choose are interesting.
It’s difficult to complete the work required for a boring class that doesn’t apply to your business under the best of circumstances. When you are squeezing in the time to study between appointments, it may be nearly impossible. Choose topics that offer you some tangible benefit, whether it is a benefit for your business operations or to the skills you bring to the table.
Before you sign up for any courses, consider what you would like in your career. If you have a 5- or 10-year plan, CE courses can help you reach your goals. Knowing that you are working toward specific goals may provide the necessary motivation to successfully complete the courses.
Set appointments with yourself.
If at all possible, set aside time to study in exactly the way you set aside time to see clients. Having time blocked out on your calendar specifically for study can help you stay on track and provide the mental space you need to really absorb the material.
You may even want to go a step further and plan out what you will study within the appointed block of time. Simply having “study” on your calendar may not be as effective as “watch and take notes on DVD 3 in the series. Review notes from DVD 2. Complete worksheets.”
When you can connect what you are learning with what you already know or what you are doing, you are much more likely to retain new information. Try to integrate what you are learning into the work you are already doing.
Simply thinking about new information is a huge benefit to learning. For example, if you are learning about, say, branding your massage therapy business, try to notice how other businesses are branding themselves as you go about your normal day.
Seek out additional information.
You may find it useful to find articles, studies or books outside of the information provided with your course. Sometimes finding a different perspective on the same topic can help you retain more.
As odd as it may seem, reading a study that refutes what you are learning can be helpful because it can help you think critically.
Use all of the material.
If your home study course comes with a book, a set of DVDs, a series of recordings, and access to an online class forum, use all of them. Using both visual materials, such as books, and audio materials, such as recordings, will help cement the information in your memory.
Everyone learns differently—some people need to connect learning with physical movement in order to retain information, others are visual processors and some learn best by hearing new information. By using all of the materials at your disposal, you will be covering your learning bases.
Talk about what you are learning with other therapists. Discussing what you are learning will increase the likelihood that you will remember it. It will also give you the opportunity to find out what others think, giving you additional connections.
If you do not have an in-person network, you may want to find and join an online forum for LMTs. Having colleagues whom you trust and feel comfortable talking to will be a valuable resource throughout your career.