Continuing Education

Iowa law requires members of every licensed or regulated health profession to obtain continuing education in order to renew the authorization to practice their profession.  (Iowa Code Chapter 272C)  Consequently, the Iowa Dental Board requires all licensed dentists, dental hygienists, and registered dental assistants to obtain continuing education. While the Board approves sponsors and courses, the Board does not actually offer any courses. You will need to contact the course sponsor for information on course registration, meeting times and locations, obtaining proof of attendance, and the number of hours awarded.

To find continuing education courses, you can ask to be placed on the mailing list for your professional association or ask to be on the mailing list for your local community college or dental college. A list of sponsors is also available here: http://www.dentalboard.iowa.gov/practitioners/continuing-education/approved-sponsors.html.

You can find all applications and forms associated with continuing education in the Applications and Forms section of the website under the section titled "Continuing Education Applications and Forms."

For further information about continuing education requirements, please see the following information.

Hours Required

Dentists and Dental Hygienists: 30 Hours required every 2 years

Required as part of 30 hours:
CPR Required for renewal – can claim up to 3 hours for completing course. Online/homestudy CPR cerficiation courses are not acceptable for renewal or continuing education.
Abuse Identification and Reporting Training Within 6 months of employment and every 5 years thereafter – credit can be claimed for completing courses.
Sedation 6 hours for persons with a deep sedation/general anesthesia or conscious sedation permit

Dental Assistants: 20 Hours required every 2 years

Required as part of 20 hours:
CPR Required for renewal – can claim up to 3 hours for completing course.
Abuse Identification and Reporting Training Within 6 months of employment and every 5 years thereafter – credit can be claimed for completing courses.
Infection Control 2 hours
Dental Radiology 2 hours for dental assistants with an added qualification in dental radiography.

Extensions and Exemptions

In cases of illness or disability, licensees and registrants can apply for an extension or exemption of the continuing education requirements. Written application must be made on forms approved by the Board. A licensed physician must also sign the form. The Board may require the applicant to make up a certain portion or all of the minimum education requirements.

The Board also issues individual extensions or exemptions in the following cases:

  • Periods that a person serves honorably on active duty in military services;
  • Periods that a person practices the person’s profession in another state having a continuing education requirement, and the licensee or registrant meets all of the requirements of that state;
  • Periods that a person is a government employee working in the person’s licensed or registered specialty and assigned to duty outside the United States; and
  • Other periods of active practice and absence from the state approved by the Board

Licensees are exempt for the current biennium renewal period, or portion thereof, following original issuance of the license. Dental licenses expire August 31 of every even-numbered year. Dental hygiene licenses expires August 31 of every odd-numbered year.

  • For example, a dentist whose license was issued September 1, 2012, has an initial license expiration date of August 31, 2014. Continuing education would not be required until renewal in August 2016.
  • If a dental hygiene license were issued September 1, 2011, it would have an initial expiration date of August 31, 2013. Continuing education would be required for renewal in August 2015.

Dental assistants who are registered by examination are also exempt from the continuing education requirements for the current biennium renewal period, or portion thereof, following original issuance of the registration. Dental assistant registration expires on August 31 of every odd-numbered year.

  • For example, a dental assistant who completed the examinations for registration and was registered on September 1, 2011, has an initial expiration of August 31, 2013. Continuing education would be required for renewal in August 2015.

To be eligible for credit at renewal, courses must be completed during the current compliance period. For dentists those dates are September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2014. For dental hygienists and dental assistants those dates are September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2013.

Persons who qualify for the above exemptions or extensions can mark the appropriate spot on the form for renewal. In addition, if you qualify for a continuing education exemption or extension, you must still submit a timely application for renewal and pay the required renewal fee. Also, you must still obtain training in identification and reporting of dependent adult and/or child abuse and submit proof of current certification in CPR (unless issued an exemption from CPR in cases of disability).

Inactive Status

Another way to renew your license and registration without obtaining continuing education is to place your license or registration on inactive status. Under inactive status, no continuing education is required, however, you must pay the renewal fee and submit an application for renewal. Also, while on inactive status, you cannot practice dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting in Iowa until your license or registration is reinstated. Reinstatement requires submitting a reinstatement application and fee. You must also submit proof of having completed continuing education. Contact the Board office for additional information about inactive status.

Course Topics

The general rule of thumb is that any course related to clinical practice is acceptable. Courses that are approved for dentists and hygienists are also approved for dental assistants. Other acceptable subjects are patient record keeping, risk management, communication, and OSHA regulations. The Board has determined that courses relating to HIPAA regulations and courses about Iowa jurisprudence, which have been prior-approved by the Board are acceptable.

Credit is also awarded for attending annual dental conventions or taking postgraduate study relating to health sciences (if you take a health related course at a community college for example).

Certain subjects or courses are not acceptable for continuing education credit. These subjects include courses related to: personal development, business aspects of practice, personnel management, government regulations (except OSHA or HIPAA), insurance, collective bargaining, or community service presentations. While some of these courses may be desirable, the subjects do not directly relate to dental skills, knowledge, or competence, and therefore, are ineligible for credit for renewal of a license or registration. If you are not sure whether a course is approved for credit, you should contact the sponsor.

Dental assistants are required to complete a certain number of credit hours in the subject area(s) in infection control and dental radiography if the dental assistant has a qualification in dental radiography. Dentists with a permit to administer deep sedation/general anesthesia or conscious sedation must also take six hours of continuing education in the area of sedation. These hours may also be claimed for regular license renewal. The remainder of the courses and topics for all licensees and registrants are open to individual preference as long as they meet the guidelines in Board rules.

In addition, all dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants need to maintain current certification in CPR for renewal, as well as take training in identification and reporting of dependent adult and/or child abuse.

You should also note that information listed on this web site refers only to the requirements of the Iowa Dental Board for license or registration renewal. You may have different requirements to renew specialty certification, national certification, or to meet other federal requirements. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires dental employees to complete at least one hour yearly in an OSHA update course, or as soon as possible when there are changes in procedures or job assignments.

Hours Awarded

The number of hours awarded for each course usually depends on the length of the course. For example, participants at a three-hour course usually receive three hours of credit. This may vary, however, if parts of the course are not approved for credit. For example, a four-hour course that discussed patient communication skills (an acceptable topic) for two hours and covered personnel management (an unacceptable topic for renewal purposes) for the remainder of the time would receive only two hours of credit. In all cases, the course sponsor should provide you with proof of attendance that indicates the number of continuing education credit hours awarded. If you are unsure about the number of hours awarded, ask the course sponsor.

The Board has established certain limits on the number of hours awarded for various activities. Keep these points in mind when calculating the number of hours you have earned each biennium.

  • Attendance at convention-type meetings (like the annual session convention held every May or the ADA annual meeting) is awarded three hours of credit, with a maximum of six hours per biennium. The three hours of credit is for registration and attendance at the meeting, additional credit can be claimed for attending the continuing education courses offered at the meeting.
  • Four hours of credit is allowed for presenting an original table clinic at a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • Two hours of credit is awarded for attendance at the table clinic session of a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • Fifteen credits per semester is awarded for postgraduate study relating to health sciences.
  • Fifteen hours of credit may be claimed for each full year of a residency program.
  • Fifteen hours of credit is awarded for successful completion of Part II of the National Board exam for dentists or hygienists, if taken five or more years after graduation, or completing a recognized specialty exam.
  • Self-study or home study activities including television viewing, video programs, correspondence work, or computer programs, are limited to a maximum of 12 hours per biennium. You cannot, however, obtain abuse training from an out-of-state provider. These courses must cover the specific requirements of Iowa law.
  • Original presentation of continuing dental education credit shall result in credit double that what the participant receives. Credit is not awarded for repeating presentations or for presentations that are part of normal teaching or academic duties.
  • Publications of scientific articles in professional journals related to dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting shall result in a maximum of 5 hours per article, maximum of 20 hours per biennium.
  • Duplicate credit cannot be claimed for completing the same course in a biennium.

Reporting Continuing Education

Continuing education is reported at the time of license or registration renewal. About 60 days before your license or registration expires, you will be sent a renewal form. On the renewal form you must document the number of continuing education hours earned and the dates that you took mandatory abuse training. In addition, a copy of your current CPR card must be submitted for renewal.

It is important that you maintain a file of all continuing education courses attended. Board rules require that you maintain proof of attendance for four years. The Board routinely audits renewals and can ask you to show proof of all hours claimed for renewal. If your renewal is selected for audit, you must provide copies of certificates showing the continuing education activity attended and the number of hours awarded. Failure to document enough continuing education hours could result in non-renewal of your license or registration, or possible disciplinary action. If you lose copies of your proof of attendance forms, you should contact the course sponsor.

Mandatory Reporting

By law, all health care providers in Iowa are mandatory reporters of suspected cases of child abuse or dependent adult abuse. State law also requires that all health care providers receive mandatory training in reporting and identifying cases of suspected abuse. If your practice treats children, you must obtain the training in identification and reporting of child abuse. If your practice treats adults, you must obtain training in identification and reporting of dependent adult abuse. If your practice treats both children and adults, you must obtain both types of training. Training can be obtained through separate classes or one combined class that covers both topics.

The mandatory training is required within six months of initial employment and every five years thereafter. Continuing education hours are also awarded for completing the training. Most courses award two hours of continuing education credit and the combined course that covers both child and dependent adult abuse typically awards three hours of continuing education credit. The sponsor of the course will tell you how many hours of credit you may claim.

The Dental Board does not offer or approve the mandatory training courses. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) approves courses in this area. Many courses are offered through local hospitals, some nursing homes, area education agencies or the Department of Human Services. In addition, the University of Iowa and Iowa Dental Association offer approved courses. (List of Approved Continuing Education Sponsors)

CPR

Board rules require all licensees (dentists and hygienists) and registered dental assistants to show proof of current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to renew a license or registration. Certification should be obtained through a “nationally recognized course,” such as the Red Cross or American Heart Association courses. The CPR course does not need to be a health care provider course or any other special type of course as long as it is taken through a nationally recognized provider. (Although dentists with general anesthesia or moderate sedation permits are required to have current Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification.) To renew a license/registration, Board rules prohibit certification in CPR when completed via homestudy training (e.g. online CPR courses). Eligible CPR certification courses must include a clinical component.

You are required to keep the CPR current for each year that you maintain your license or registration. Some courses are valid for one year, while others have a two-year renewal cycle. Pay attention to the expiration date on your CPR card and make sure you renew on time. CPR requires practice in order to maintain your skills, so stay current. Remember that you can obtain three hours of continuing education credit each biennium for taking a CPR course.


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