Want to become a CEU speaker?

How exciting that you are considering public speaking!! And even more exciting that you are considering speaking on topics related to dental hygiene!! Your experience and years of practice are such a great asset and you can provide so much sage advice!!

This is one topic I was curious about for myself and decided after gathering information maybe others would like it as well!  Here is what I have discovered about the CEU process in Indiana:

Step One: Find out what are you passionate about or something that you’d like to learn yourself – my first CEU course was on Legislative Initiative – not a lot of hygienists realize how much time, energy, and money goes into moving a concept from an idea to a law

Step Two: Do a needs assessment –> Is your topic relevant? Are there A LOT of CEU courses already? Can you bring something new and exciting to the conversation?

Step Three: Get involved in DH networking and communities –> namely ADHA/IDHA – for me this was more for a confidence building – I thought I had a great topic but I needed the positive reinforcement to be sure my peers would want to hear it – This also gave me a platform to get started.

Step Four: Outline, Presentation, Paper, Handouts, Survey – this is the nitty gritty – see below for more information.

Step Five: Market Yourself – email. post. join groups. contact your network.  Let people know what you have, how to contact you, and then shine!

Step Six: Keep Your Content Current – follow up with questions from previous courses and update your content when possible – this helps keep you relevant AND provides excellent quality.

Step Seven: Do Not Give Up – starting out is never easy but you can do it! Keep marketing yourself, stay involved with other hygienists, and eventually the rest will fall into place.

You created your course … now how do you award credit?!  There are two options in Indiana:

Sponsored Courses

These are courses that an approved entity has deemed worthy of CEU credit.  All state dental boards have a list in their respective practice acts.  In Indiana the list of approved entities is in the law (IDA, IDHA, components, schools, etc.).  These entities have the authority to grant automatic approval if they sponsor your course.  In order to get credit for the course, it must be relevant to dentistry (you can talk about autism as long as you can relate it to the practice of dentistry but a CEU just on autism with no dental concentration would not count).*

If you are hired by a third party as a speaker (Colgate, 3M, Hu-Friedy, etc.), a majority of these courses are actually CERP certified and you are just the vessel with which the information is given. Typically the third party speaker is paid under a contract.

Certified/Speaker Courses

Any person can submit a course for certification by either the state of Indiana or CERP via ADA

  • Indiana state sponsorship: the information for certification is on the PLA website (see below); for an annual fee per licensing period with this certification you could give the CEU to ANYONE that is willing to pay you for it (or if you are donating your time) you will be given a licensee # that matches your course and is unique;  This unique number would grant approval for Indiana only – the same course offered in another state may not be granted automatic CEU.
  • CERP: the same for CERP via the ADA applies as it does for Indiana EXEPT that CERP certification is granted for all states; each licensing period you would need to submit your course(s) for review and recertification there is an additional fee each recertification but it is less than a new certificate; the information on applying for CERP is on ADAs website – but it is more expensive both for initial and recertification.

Both of these options have set certification application periods – Indiana expires March 2 of even years and ADA has a spring and a fall deadline.

Now, to the harder question: what qualifies a CEU – sadly, nothing.  I don’t know if you’ve taken any webinars but I have access to a large library via my employer and several of the one hour CEU webinars that I’ve taken leave much to be desired; in my opinion.  I have attended some really great CEU and some really lacking CEU (as I’m sure you have).  When I put my courses together I try to think about what I did and didn’t like from the bad courses and try to prevent my audience like I did when I lost interested.  By avoiding what I didn’t like and focusing on what I did like I continue to grow each course and hopefully keep the audience with me 😉

When deciding on my content I would take two things into consideration: experience level of the audience/demographic AND would I want to attend this course 😀

I create a vague outline, then a detailed outline (almost like a paper), a powerpoint from my outline, a handout from my powerpoint (Microsoft word will do this for you automatically which makes it super easy and nice!!), course review, and a list of sources.  This process isn’t that different from the papers we had to write in college.  I typically have a non-dental professional review it, a DDS, and a handful of peers – it never hurts to have input from all areas of dentistry.  And then my poor husband has to listen to the course – one to ten times 😀

There are some states that have a very strict outline for their content but don’t let that discourage you from trying!! Meet with a colleague that has had a course or two approved – let them mentor you!!  If you live close to a state line, or you are comfortable driving to the neighbor(ing) state(s) it would be worth it to seek certification in those states as well.

ADHA also holds a database for speakers.  You can create an account online and if selected, you could give your CEU in any state because they are a national entity.  They have a committee that reviews the courses for potential speakers at all their sponsored events.  This is a member benefit and one that I personally hope to take advantage of someday 🙂

After I had a few courses under my belt, here are two things I learned:

Create a speaker and/or course review and to hold on to them!!  Take the feedback into consideration and make changes as necessary.  I keep a record of how many times the same thing is listed, when the item hits three hash marks I make a change – positive or negative.  I recently applied to speak at ADHA AS in Ohio 2018 and they asked for copies of previous course reviews and I don’t have any!  Lesson learned.  I have used review sheets but I have tossed them in the past.  Learn from me and file them away!!

Second – don’t put too much info in your slides – more than 25 words and you should probably consider if it’s necessary (and you need an additional slide) or if you can toss it (but write it in your notes to make sure you still mention it!!).  Larger fonts are better and too many words on your slides make it hard to read.

Are you already a speaker?! Let me know your process in the comments!  Are you wanting to become a speaker?!  What’s your passion?!  What advice would you give colleagues just starting out?!



ADHA document on CEU requirements: https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7512_CE_Requirements_by_State.pdf  Be sure to check with your individual state’s practice act for CEU information – there are a handful of states that require all CEU to be approved at the state level.

*You can find the CE information for Indiana here: https://secure.in.gov/pla/2393.htm


One thought on “Want to become a CEU speaker?

  1. Hi Amanda! I am a CE speaker through Young Dental through state representative status (I also work for Aspen full time) and they gave us the material and PowerPoint, we just deliver the course. Ours is on fluoride varnish which can be dry, but I give it my own spin and actually just did it at my territory hygiene meeting!
    Advice – deliver a CE like you would a conversation. This isn’t dental hygiene school – you can be fluid and fun and deliver the educational message. Group participation is beneficial! Ask your audience questions to keep them engaged. Offer them incentives to listen (a raffle at the end for those who answer questions correctly)
    I have so much fun doing this and I was SO nervous at first. My first course I basically just winged it…and it was great!
    Email me at scalaRDH@gmail.com if you want to chat!


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