Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a CEU provider for dietitians?
(You probably have because this question comes up A LOT in The Unconventional RD Facebook group!)
Then sit down, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and get ready to learn ALL about it.
What you’ll Learn
- The benefits of becoming a CEU provider.
- The different types of activities you can get approved.
- How live events differ from self-study events.
- Exactly what you need to do to complete the CEU application process for each type.
- Plus behind the scenes insights and tips from my own experiences.
Episode Show Notes
Erica Julson: Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.
Today's topic comes up a lot in The Unconventional RD Facebook Group. Dietitians are always asking about how to get their courses or other educational materials approved for CEUs so that dietitians enrolled in their programs can put those hours towards their required Continuing Education Units. And I do have some experience in this arena. I've had my own online courses approved for both live and self-study CEUs in the past. So I'm going to draw on that experience today to walk you through all the required steps.
And I do want to mention that CDR, the Commission on Dietetic Registration, who is in charge of credentialing dietitians and approving CEUs in the United States, has wonderful documentation about this on their website and they're super responsive to questions via email. So that's an excellent place to go to check out for more information. So I'll talk about that a little bit more in today's episode as well.
And just a fair warning before we get too deep into this topic. When talking about Continuing Education Units, I call them CEUs, but you may also see them called CPE Credits, which stands for Continuing Professional Education Credits, or CPEUs, Continuing Professional Education Units. Or if you're looking at continuing education in another medical field like physicians or something, you might see them called CMEs, Continuing Medical Education. So it's all really the same thing, depending on what resource you're looking at. But for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to call them CEUs today on this podcast.
So let's take it from the top, big picture view. If you want to be able to provide CEUs for an online course that you're doing, or a webinar, or something else that you're offering for dietitians, it's a pretty straightforward process. You basically have to fill out some online forms at CDRs website to tell them more about what you're offering. Then you have to submit resumes of everyone involved in the creation of the event. And you have to submit either an outline of what you'll be presenting if it's a live event that hasn't happened yet, or submit the actual full recording or piece of content if it's a self-study event that isn't live. If it's a live event, that's pretty much it, you're done. You just need to track who attended so that you can prove it to CDR in case someone's audited. And if you couldn't tell yet, getting CEUs for a live event is actually really easy. In contrast, self-study CEUs are a little more involved in order to get those approved. There's a lot more.
So in addition to just filling out some forms and providing an outline of what you're doing, you have to have three expert reviewers come in and look at what you're presenting, peer-review it and vouch for it. So they're going to have to be able to go through all of your content and provide feedback. Then you need to actually submit the legitimate content that you'll be providing for CDR to review with references. And then as of the last few years, CDR keeps adding more and more requirements for self-study. So now all self-study programs, you also have to have all attendees complete a self-evaluation at the end. So you have to set up a way for people to complete a feedback survey for you and you have to keep those answers on file. Then they also have to pass a formal quiz that you offer at the end of the event in order for them to get their self-study CEU certificate.
Whew! So that's the big picture view. So you can see, if you're doing a live event, it's pretty straightforward. If you're doing something that's already created and is designed to be self-study, it is more involved, but both are totally doable. So that's big picture view. And since I've actually done all of this, I'm going to spend the rest of the podcast going into more detail on how you can actually accomplish all of this, the workflow, the timelines, the tech involved, so that if you're thinking about applying for CEUs for one of your offerings, you'll have a better idea of what to expect.
So again, CDR has wonderful documentation on their website at cdrnet.org. It's under the Services section. And then there's the last option is Resources for Continuing Education Providers or something. That's where you want to go. And they have these checklist, whether you're going to be doing a live event or self-study event, they literally break it down into a checklist of exactly what you need to submit. So, I highly recommend checking that out if you are getting into this. But I know people learn in different ways and sometimes people like to hear the process spoken about and hear someone's personal experience. So that's what I'm going to be doing today. So I'm going to take it a step back and walk you through all of it in more detail.
So first, a dietitian who might be providing educational resources for other dietitians, why would you want to get your content approved for CRUs? Well, if your content serves other dietitians, you can apply for CEUs. And that can help more people sign up if they know that this thing that you're offering can count towards the continuing education units that they're required to get anyway. And for anyone listening, who's not familiar with the requirements for dietitians in the US, we are required to earn and submit 75 CEUs every five years to maintain our credentials. And DTRs who are Dietetic Technicians, Registered, and it's basically people completed a bachelor's degree in nutrition, but didn't do the internship and instead they pass a DTR exam, or they could also have an associates degree and then have undergone an accredited DTR program that does include some supervision. DTRs are required to complete 50 CEUs every five years.
Additionally, some employers give their employees CEU stipends, or they reimburse them up to a certain amount for continuing education. So I have had a good number of people take my courses and get reimbursed by their employers. So that's a win, win, win. And if you are thinking about offering continuing education units, your content actually does not even have to be focused on a nutrition topic. It just has to be "dietetics related," which CDR defines as "The integration, application, and communication of principles derived from food, nutrition, social, business, and basic sciences," so you can cover those other topics too, "To achieve and maintain optimal nutrition status of individuals through the development, provision and management of effective food and nutrition services in a variety of settings and as defined by the Essential Practice Competencies."
So long story short, if you are helping dietitians in their career in any way basically, you can probably apply for continuing education units. So for example, I teach online business skills for dietitians in my courses, and I was able to get those approved. So really, anything that might help a dietitian in their career could probably qualify. But just FYI, if you are planning on covering a diet or nutrition topic, you do need to make sure you have at least one dietitian or DTR involved in the planning of the program. That is a requirement by CDR.
And what kind of content can you get approved for CEUs? Well, actually a bunch. But at its core, there are two main types of content. There's Live Content and there's Self-Study Content. And as I described just a bit ago, there are very different requirements for the live events versus the non-live events. So I'm going to walk you through examples of each and then go into all the details.
So examples of live events include exhibits like an Exhibit at FNCE, which is like our annual dietitian conference or a live online exhibit. As long as a certificate of attendance is offered, you could do experientials skill development, like a live cultural culinary skills training, or a live computer or software training. You can offer an interactive workshop. So live workshops on a topic where you have interactive discussion and participation amongst the attendees. You can do a journal club. So scheduled events where you get together with three or more professionals to discuss recent peer-reviewed journal articles that are really in-depth and centered around a specific topic. You can do the journal clubs online, as long as proof of attendance and engagement can be provided by the administrator.
You could do live lectures or seminars. So in-person lectures or seminars basically. Live webinars or teleseminars seminars, which would be live online webinars. So where people are showing up at a specific time to consume this content it's happening online and it must include discussion between participants and the presenter. It could include poster sessions like poster sessions FNCE. Residency and fellowship programs, which probably isn't applicable for most people listening, unless you are creating your own residency and fellowship program somehow. And it can include study groups. So putting together an organized group of at least three professionals to do an in-depth study of a topic, and they give an example of watching a recording of an approved session from FNCE and then discussing it as a group as long as the presentation is no more than one year old. So those are all the examples of live events. And I'm guessing for most of the people listening, if you run your own online business, you're probably going to be doing either a live in-person seminar, or maybe a live webinar of some kind for your business.
Examples of self-study events include audio-based self-study. So maybe like an audio book or even podcasts. So yeah, you can get your podcast episodes approved for CEUs. I know some dietitians have done that, I have not yet, but I think it's a really good idea. So maybe I will in the future for certain episodes. You could offer computer-based self-study, but that means it has to be like something on a CD rom, which who does that anymore? So not accessible on the internet, but you'd consume it on your computer. Printed self study, like books or journals. Video-based self-study, again, not on the internet, that would be like a DVD or something. And then finally, web-based self-study. So that would be like a prerecorded online course, recorded webinars, recorded anything that's not actually live, but available for people to consume at their own pace online.
So at the time of this recording, you have to submit each individual event that you would like to have CEUs for separately. In the past, CDR used to have something called an Accredited Provider Program where after you had submitted and gotten three different offerings approved for CEUs, you could pay a larger application fee of $500 and a $300 annual fee and become an official accredited provider. And accredited providers actually no longer had to submit every single offering for approval. They were just given the green light to automatically provide CEUs for anything that they put out there once they were approved as an accredited provider. So large CEUs companies like the ones that offer CEUs for reading books often would go this route.
However, as of June 2020, CDR is no longer accepting any new applications for the Accredited Provider Program. It's basically shut down for new people. Instead, they decided to join forces with a larger organization called Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education. And CEU providers can apply to be a part of this larger program and have their CEU offerings be approved for a bunch of types of healthcare providers, including athletic trainers, dentists, dietitians, nurses, optometrists, PAs, pharmacists, physicians, psychologists, and social workers, all through one centralized accreditation program. However, the Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Education Program is going to be cost prohibitive for like 99% of the people listening. It cost over $20,000 a year to be a part of it. Yeah. So unless you already have a six-figure business centered around providing CEUs for healthcare professionals, most likely you're just going to be submitting each individual event for approval directly to CDR. So that's the procedure that I'm going to be focusing on today.
And again, I have experience submitting my online courses for both live CEUs and self-study CEUs. So I'm going to walk you through the steps that I took for each of those things. So if you are looking to do this, step number one would be going to CDR's website, cdrnet.org, then click the Services tab. And the very last option is Services for Continuing Professional Education Providers. So click that. Then it's going to open a new page where you see two different links. The top link is for people who want to join that accredited provider thing for all the different types of healthcare professionals, they're really expensive one. So don't click that link. The second link says Prior Approval CPE Guidelines and the Online CPE Database. Click that one.
So on that page, you're going to find all the information you need to submit your offerings for CEUs. There is a little section for live events, and there's another section for self-study events. And it's actually like really well laid out and straightforward. So you can... I highly recommend reading everything there, but I'm going to talk you through it here as well. So of course, so the first thing you have to decide is whether you are offering CEUs for a live event or a self-study event, since the requirements are very different.
So let's walk through a hypothetical scenario of submitting for live CEUs first. And before we get too deep into it, I did want to mention this little caveat, live CEUs actually don't even need to be pre-approved by CDR. So technically, any dietitian could attend a live event and put it on their learning plan and try to get CEUs for it even if that event has never been pre-approved by CDR, you're not guaranteed to get it approved after the fact. But you can technically put any type of continuing education on your learning plan, whether the provider got pre-approved CEU's or not.
However, if you are presenting something on a topic and you want to be a 100% sure that people who attend are going to get CEU Credit, and you want to be able to advertise that you are offering pre-approved CEUs from CDR, then you can submit that live event to CDR for prior approval before the event happens. And then you can guarantee that everyone who attends will get the appropriate CEUs when it comes time to submit to CDR.
So online courses or summits with prerecorded talks can still count as "live events" if you offer a live round of the event that occurs on specific dates and include some form of live interaction with your students. So those students who attend the whole thing live and participate in the discussions can earn live CEUs. So examples that I'm thinking of are like the RD Entrepreneur Symposium. All the participants submit prerecorded talks, but the talks are rolled out in a live way to the participants. So it's not like you can sign up at any time and go through them at your own pace. There's a certain date that the event is happening, that talks come out like XYZ number of talks per day and they're only accessible for XYZ timeframe, let's say.
And if you want the live CEUs, you actually have to watch them live as they come out, and then participate in the live discussion in the Facebook group or whatever in order to get those live CEUs. If you are going for self-study and you don't want to participate live, I know for that particular event, they also offer self-study CEUs separately if you're not able to watch everything live. It stays up, I think, for a year. And if you're going to be watching it later, after you've re enrolled already, then you can still get CEUs, but there then self-study CEUs.
And then for my own courses, I did the same thing. I wanted to offer live CEUs, but I hadn't made the content yet. I pre-sold all of my course ideas. So I just had a sales page and I was like, "Hey, this is what's happening. Sign up if you want to attend." And I didn't have any of the content made yet. I was making it week by week. All I had were my course outlines and how long I thought each week was going to go and what content I was going to cover, but it wasn't actually made yet.
And so when people enrolled, it wasn't a scenario where they just sign up and they get access to everything to go through their own pace. I did it in a live way. So I did like a live course where each week, on a certain day, at a certain time, a new module would be released and they could watch it during that week. And there was live office hours that I had where people could attend and ask questions and interact with me and also a Facebook group for live interaction as well. So, because I was setting it up that way with the live component, I was able to apply for live CEUs for those online courses.
So to get CEUs for live events, since it hasn't actually happened yet, all you have to do is submit an outline of what would be covered in each lesson, how long each lesson is, and I also included the live office hours during that outline, and the days and the times that the content is being released or the office hours are taking place. And I actually submitted this whole outline and all the information to CDR a few months before it was going to launch, so that I would have enough time to make sure I got the content approved and I'd be able to advertise that I was offering live CEUs during my launch. And the live component is nice because I know some states, I want to say Florida, but I don't live in Florida, so I'm not 100% sure, but some states require that their dietitians get a certain number of live CEUs every year or every cycle. So, some people are specifically looking for live CEU events. So it can be helpful if you can offer that. Some people might sign up just for that fact.
And after I submitted, it took CDR, honestly, just a few weeks to review and get back to me. So they were pretty quick. And if they have questions, they'll just respond to you through the portal and ask you to clarify certain things. And then once they get your response, they'll just continue the review until they've decided whether it's approved or not.
And I run all my courses on my own self-hosted WordPress website using a learning management system called LearnDash. So that's a WordPress plugin that's paid. And I use that to set up the whole course platform on my own website. So if you've ever signed up for online courses on Teachable or Thinkific, it basically looks exactly like that, except it's all on my own website and I control everything. So through that system, I'm able to see who enrolled and whether they have viewed all the content or not.
So at the end of the live six week course, the people who actually did attend live and participated and watched everything could email me to confirm that they finished. And then I double-checked to make sure on the backend that they actually watched everything. And then I would send them a custom CEU certificate via email. And you can either make your own nice looking CEU certificate on canvas or something. Or you can just use the very basic template that CDR will provide you. But all in all, applying for live CEUs is really easy. It's much easier than applying for the self-study CEUs. The only downside is that obviously those live CEUs only apply for the live event and then it's done. So you can't repurpose that. If you want it to make it into a self-study program, then you have to apply through the self-study format.
So, again, just to recap, the steps for submitting for live CEU pre-approval are, number one, specify the activity type. So, these are all things that you'll submit using the forms on the CDR's website. So specify the activity type. So remember previously when I was describing all the activities that can count as live events, all of those are assigned specific activity types by CDR, and they have all the numbers listed online. So you just need to tell them which one your event falls under.
So when I did the live rounds of my online courses, I used Activity Type 171 for live webinars/teleseminars. And then they also will ask you whether or not your activity qualifies for the Ethics CEU Requirements. And I said no. And then they ask you to give your activity a title. And you can name it whatever you want, but this is what people will see when they're searching the CPE Database from CDR. So you can specify whether you want your activity to be listed in CDR's database Continuing Education Opportunities. And if you do, then this title is what will show. So I called mine The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp SEO Course.
Then the last for name and contact information for a contact person, which is probably going to be you. They'll ask how many CEUs you're requesting for the event. And the way it works is one hour equals one CEU, and that's broken down into 15-minute intervals. So 15 minutes would be 0.25 units. So if it was an hour and 15 minute long webinar, that will be 1.25 CEUs. And that's a relatively new change actually. It used to be in 30-minute increments. And your program has to be at least one hour long or to get one CEU. And the CEUs can only count for the actual instruction or the live office hours, stuff like that. Homework assignments or anything that someone's doing on their own time does not count for CEUs.
Then you have to specify the CEU Level that you'll be provided. There's three levels. Level 1 assumes that the participant has little or no prior knowledge of the areas covered. Level 2 assumes that the participant has general knowledge of the literature and professional practice within the areas covered. Level 3 assumes that the participant has thorough knowledge of the literature and professional practice within the areas covered. So for my courses, I did Levels 1 and 2.
Then you have to tell them who your target audience is, and your target audience has to include RDs or DTRs. So I said, "The target audience for this course is dietitians who would like to improve their online presence and get more visitors to their website search engines." Then they ask you to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, including commercial bias. And they give you a sample disclosure statement. So you just literally download it and then fill it out. So I don't need to read the whole thing there, but basically they're asking you like, hey, do have any grants, or research support, or are you a consultant? Are you a stock... Do you have stock or are you a shareholder in any companies? Are you getting an honorarium or other financial or material support from anything at all, any businesses or companies related to what you're talking about?
And even if you are, that doesn't exclude you from being able to give this presentation and get CEUs. You just have to be upfront and disclose it, which is a great practice. So you just have to disclose any financial things that you might have. So for my courses, for example, I had to disclose that for some of the technology tools that I recommend in the course, that I am an affiliate for those tools, which means if people go through my affiliate link that I include in the course, if they click on that and then go on to buy one of the tools I recommend, that I will earn a commission. But other than that, I didn't have any other financial interests in anything I was talking about. So that was the only thing that I had to disclose.
Then they ask you, what suggested performance indicators you're going to use for the course? And they give you a giant list of all the performance indicators, and you can comb through them and decide what's most relevant to the content you're talking about. So for mine, for my SEO course, I did performance indicators 11.4.1, stays abreast of changing trends and technology in promotion, marketing and advertising. Performance indicator 2.1.3, tailors message to meet the needs of the target audience. 5.1.1, demonstrates proficient use of technical operating systems and software to communicate and disseminate information, to collect, track and retrieve data, and to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. And 5.1.2, applies understanding of informatics terminology and input and output devices like laptops, smartphone, flash drive, et cetera.
And then there's another thing. So beyond performance indicators, they also asked for suggested learning codes and they give you a giant list of those. So again, you just come through and decide what's most relevant to the topic at hand. For my SEO course, I picked 0120, computer, like an electronic technology. 7120, marketing. 1000, professional skills. And 1140, written communication skills and publishing. Then they'll ask you for the activity date. And since it is a live event, it should have a date attached to it. And then the location. So the city and state. And they say you can specify if it's going to be held in multiple locations, just include each one. And if it's going to be online, you just leave the location blank.
And then you have to attach a few documents to your application. So everything I just went over, you just type into some forms during your application, but they also asked for a few attachments. They would like a detailed timing outline or agenda for the event, including the start and end time of each session, and the speaker's first name, last name and credentials, if applicable. And they give you, again, great example. This doesn't have to be crazy. You just write this down in a Word doc, save it as a PDF and attach it. So they give you an example on CDRs website, which is really amazing and wonderful.
And they also ask you for a resume or CV for each presenter, including the speaker's education and their credentials and background. And then they also specify specifically, if you're trying to do a journal club, then you also need to make sure you're attaching the articles that you want to be discussed and they have to be no more than five years old. And then of course, there's a fee. So if the thing that you're applying for CEUs for is between one and 10 CEUs, the fee is $30. If it's 11 or more CEUs, then it's $60. And this is a non-refundable fee that can be paid online. And if your application is not approved or you cancel the event, it's nonrefundable.
So once you have all that information, all the info filled out on the form, and then the attached documents with the agenda and the resumes for all of your presenters, then you just submit it through the system. And just personally, and this is a protip, I typed out all of this stuff on a separate document and then filled it all out at one time so that I wouldn't get kicked out or logged out for inactivity and then lose everything I typed. So that's what I recommend, typing out everything separately, and then just entering it all in when you're really ready to actually hit the Submit button.
Then they'll take a few weeks to get back to you and you're good to go and officially market that your live event will have CEUs that are pre-approved by CDR. And of course, you are welcome to record that live event and then maybe offer it for sale afterwards. But then those aren't going to be live CEUs. That's not going to apply for a recording. So then you'll have to go back and get pre-approved for self-study CEUs if you'd like to offer recording later.
So that's it for live CEUs. If you're brand new to the CEU world, I actually do think doing a live event first is a great way to get your feet wet. The self-study process is a lot more involved from the setup standpoint and the technology that you might need to get going in a way that's not super labor intensive. So I do highly recommend live events if that's something you can work into business. But as I said, I do you currently offer a self-study seat use for all my courses. So while I ran them live for the first one or two times that I did them, afterwards I wanted them to be available in an evergreen format so people could sign up at any time and go through them at their own pace. And that is a self-study CEU event. So, then I had to take all that content and apply for self-study CEUs. So I've also that, and I'm going to walk you through how that process goes.
The good part about the self-study setup is that, once you're approved, that approval for the content is good for three years once you have it. So you only have to do this once every three years. Then after three years passes, if you still want to be offering continuing education units for that offering, then you just reapply for the same thing and go through the steps again. But since you already did it back then, hopefully you saved all the information. It's actually saved in CDR system even if you don't have your own record and it should be really, really simple to reapply.
So the first part is pretty much exactly the same. You click the Apply button, you enter all the info about your event. You have to submit your resume, you have to declare your conflicts of interest, you have to say your learning codes and your performance indicators. You have to submit an outline of everything in the course of it or the event. But this time, since the content is already done for self-study things, you have to actually give that content to CDR so that they can review it. So since I was doing an online course, what I did was, I just typed up on a Word doc like, "Hi, you can access the content here." And I put a link to the sign-up page with this free coupon code, and I just created a custom coupon code for the CDR reviewers so that they could create an account and log in for free at whatever time was convenient for them.
They also ask you to name three objectives for your course stated in "operational behavioral terms So basically just explaining what people are going to learn from the course. And I just took this from my sales page. And when I submitted, I don't think it said that it had to be three objectives, it just set objectives. So the ones that I submitted were, effortlessly attract your ideal customer by creating content they're searching for. Write amazing content that Google and your readers will love. Build your organic search traffic so you can start earning real income online. Network online to build more links to your website and speed up your site to improve the user experience. So that's what I put as my objectives. I think I got a little more technical for my other courses as it went on, but that's what I did for my first submission.
They also ask for a bibliography for your offering, which was a beast to put together. So obviously, since I wasn't teaching on a nutrition topic, it's not like I had peer-reviewed journal articles that I was submitting as a bibliography. So what I did was, I just made a giant Word doc, and I think I categorize it in alphabetical order with just all the references to anything that I talked about in the course. So, if I linked out to a website, or a blog post, or talks about different tools, or tutorials in any lesson of the course, I included those links in the bibliography. And so that took a while to put together. But once it's done, it's done. And if you want it to reapply later, you probably wouldn't be changing those things too much. So it's just like a lot of work upfront one time.
In addition, you need to find three professional reviewers who have expertise on the subject that you're talking about to review your course. So I found mine by posting in The Unconventional RD Facebook Group that I needed reviewers for XYZ topic. And these reviewers are not allowed to be associated with the creation of the content in any way. And if it's a nutrition topic that you're talking about, all of your reviewers have to be RDs or DTRs. If it's not a nutrition topic, at least one has to be an RD or DTR. And I didn't pay these people to review my course, but they did get free access to it, which was worth several hundred dollars. And so I just also sent those reviewers coupon codes to access my course for free. And then I also emailed them the official reviewer form that CDR makes available, just a simple document that you download and send to everyone and ask them to complete it. And then I came up with a deadline by which I needed their feedback. And then I also needed a copy of their resumes to submit with my application. Whew! And there's more. So there's even more for self-study.
So there's two more major things. Number one, somewhat recently actually CDR added a new requirement for something called a Critical Thinking tool. And it's basically a feedback questionnaire that all students have to submit after they've gone through your offering. So, I was like, okay, everyone has to take this feedback survey. What's an easy way to build that into my evergreen system so it's not like something that I have to manually send to all my students all the time? So what I did was, within LearnDash, the plugin that I used to setup all my courses, I just created a mandatory quiz at the end of the course. So they had to complete this quiz in order to then access the CEU certificate.
So CDR actually tells you exactly what questions you have to ask on this critical thinking tool. So there's a few. It says, "Did you find the education valuable? If yes, which aspects? If no, why?" "Did you or will you change your practices based on what you learned in the program? If yes, what changes do you intend to make? If no, why not?" "What barriers or limitations do you anticipate when trying to implement this new information into your practice? "What are the strengths and limitations of the information presented. And what are the identified gaps in the information provided, for example, outcomes that apply to a specific patient or client population, limited data in gender age, or other races, et cetera?" So that's what CDR requires that you get feedback on and you have to save those answers in case they ask for proof of them.
I also took the opportunity to add on my own feedback questions to this same questionnaire. So everyone who completes the course and wants to get CEUs has to fill out those CDR questions, but they also have to fill out my questions to get feedback as well. So I added, "If you'd like to leave a testimonial for me to possibly use on the website or on social media promotion, please write it here. Suggested format, describe the struggles you had before the course, how the course helped you achieve your goals or solve these problems, and specific results you've seen. If you would recommend the course to others, feel free to say so." And that has been really great actually. I've got some good testimonials from that that I've been able to use on my sales pages.
I also asked how has your monthly organic search traffic changed since taking this course so that I can make sure that I'm on the right track with helping my students? Are there any features you'd like me to add to the course? Was there any topic or module that was difficult or confusing? How could it be improved? Anything else you'd like me to know that I haven't asked about? And what was the best thing you learned from this course? So I think overall, it's like 13 questions or so altogether, and it's honestly a fabulous way to get real time feedback from my students as they go through the course.
Okay. So beyond the Critical Thinking tool, there's another thing that you need for self-study CEUs. You also need to create a formal quiz that students need to pass in order to get the CEUs. And at the time that I created mine, I think the requirements were less specific. But now I noticed on the form that it says they have to be multiple choice questions that have four answers for each possible question. So I wrote my questions myself because you have to submit the training and the background of the person who wrote the quiz. And I actually have 10 years experience as a math and science tutor. And I tutored a lot about standardized testing and created a lot of practice tests and things like that. So they approved me as being able to write my own questions based on that background. But for most people, you're going to have to hire a trained item writer and explain why that person is qualified.
So every so often I think maybe like once a year or so, CDR puts on this item writer training, but it's usually live at a certain date and time. And I believe the last time they offered it, I want to say it was like the spring of 2020, and I was getting married that week so I couldn't attend because they know I'm interested in doing it just to have that check mark next to my name anyway or maybe having someone who works with me take it. So, I could outsource that at some point. And I don't think it was super expensive, but that's a good option. Or this is even potentially a side hustle opportunity if you take that item writer certification from CDR, that could be a side hustle for you. You could offer services and go out there and create these CEU quiz questions for people who want to offer CEUs, because if they don't have the item writer training or experience writing test items themselves, then they're going to have to hire someone. So it might as well be you, right?
So since I was using that LearnDash plugin, I was able to set up this quiz myself through the backend, and I was able to make contingent on that previous critical thinking tool. So they were not allowed to access this quiz until they had already submitted the critical thinking tool questions. Then they came to the quiz, and I had 30 multiple choice questions, and they needed to get at least 80% correct to pass. And if they didn't get it, they were allowed to retry as many times as they needed, and there was no time limit on the quiz.
Then, once someone passes, the way I set it up in the backend was that I created a nice, pretty looking CEU certificate image in Canva. And then I uploaded that into the backend of LearnDash. And the program is really cool, it's really smart. So it already knows who's logged in and doing the quiz. So once they pass it, it auto-inserts the student's name and the date that they completed the quiz onto the certificate. And then it opens up and allows them to download it right on the spot, so then they can save that for their records in case they get audited.
So it was a bit of work to set all this up, honestly, but then once it's done, it's totally hands-off. So, some people I know who maybe are using different systems or they can't do these fancier types of quizzes on whatever platform they're doing, maybe they're just setting something up via email or they're doing just a live Zoom training or something, then it's a little bit more manual labor to have to send out these assessments to each person and send them custom CEU certificates. But in this case, since I'm using LearnDash, I was able to set it up all in an evergreen way, so I don't have to do anything. So it's totally hands-off. Once people finish the self-study materials, the quizzes are available to them and they just complete them and get their CEU certificate without me having to be involved at all.
So once you have all of that stuff in order, you have all the information filled out on online form, you have your critical thinking tool, you have everything reviewed by those three reviewers, you've got your CEU quiz, and all of that appropriate documentation like your bibliography and your disclosures and all that, then you just simply submit and you pay that same fee, either $30 or $60, and then you submit for approval. And it does typically take a little bit longer for the self-study stuff to get approved because they actually have to review all of your content. But I still heard back in about a month, and CDR officially says you should hear back in four to six weeks, but for me, I found that they were usually on the faster side.
And then once it's approved, your event can also be listed in CDRs Database of CPE Activities. So I don't know how many people actually use that database, but I do have all of my courses displayed there in case someone is specifically looking there for something related to digital marketing. And you do have to maintain documentation of everyone who attended your event for seven years. And then again, this approval is only good for three years. So if you want to offer CEUs for longer than that, then you have to reapply at that time.
So, that's it. That's how you go about becoming a CEU provider for dietitians through CDR. So I found applying for live CEUs to be incredibly easy. Self-study CEUs wasn't exactly hard, but it was it's really time consuming and then figuring out the logistics of how to set up all those quizzes, and then automatically download the CEU certificate, that just took some extra learning. I'd never done it before, so I had to figure out how to set that all up through the backend. But again, once you do it, it's good for three years. So that's a huge plus. And I do think that having CEUs available helped sway more RDs to enroll. And I would do it again if I was creating anything new for dietitians in the future.
So that's it for today. I hope that it cleared away the hazy confusion that sometimes exists around this topic. It sounds like it would be super hard or complicated, but it's not really, just a lot of steps. But again, CDR on their website at cdrnet.org, they have all the steps literally in a checklist. And if you ever get confused, they are super wonderfully response via email. I had a great time working with them. So don't be afraid of reaching out to ask them questions because they're really responsive.
So as always, if you enjoyed this episode today, or you enjoy this podcast in general, please hit the Subscribe button so you can get all the new episodes as they come out. I also really appreciate any ratings or reviews that you can leave on the podcast. Right now, we're sitting at 59 ratings on the US iTunes. So hey, hey, let's do this 60th amazing rating. Yay. And if you feel so inclined to leave an actual like and review, that would be great as well. I had a really awesome one from Jennifer in November.
She said, "Nothing has made a greater impact in the success of my business as an RD as much as Erica. I've been constantly inspired by her podcast, solo and guests. I have taken her courses. I've joined her Facebook group. Whatever's next I'm in." Which when I hear stuff like that, and you get a lot of feedback in the podcasting space, it's not like a social media where people are like commenting or interacting with you. So, it's pretty much just through these reviews. So I only have 15 reviews from the US, and hundreds of people listen every single week.
So if you have the time, I appreciate it. I know it helps other people decide whether to give our podcasts a shot or not. So, if you have a few spare minutes out of your day, I would so appreciate any ratings or reviews. And other than that, I will catch you next week with a really good episode on Legal for Entrepreneurial RDs. That's right. This has been a popular request for the podcast for quite some time. So I will be chatting with a real life lawyer about what you need to get your legal ducks in a row with your business. So I'll see you then.
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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.