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News & Press: Continuing Education Opportunities

A Primer on the New CE Requirement on Suicidality

Tuesday, May 13, 2014  
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By Lucy A Homans, EdD
WSPA Director of Professional Affairs


Over the past couple of months I have received numerous emails asking a variety of questions about the new law requiring psychologists (and most other health providers, but for this article I will only refer to psychologists) to receive continuing education in suicide assessment and treatment. Here are all the specifics and, hopefully, answers to all questions.

First, a quick reminder about Washington State law: RCW means the Revised Code of Washington. These are the laws that are only passed, amended or rescinded by vote of the Washington State Legislature. WAC means Washington Administrative Code. These are also laws, but they are promulgated by the agency responsible for RCW regulation. They do not require a vote of the Legislature. For example, the Examining Board of Psychology, within the Department of Health (DOH), promulgates WACs relevant to psychology practice.
RCW 43.70.442 requires psychologists, beginning January 1st, 2014, to attain 6 hours of CE once every 6 years or two CE reporting periods. Psychologists must complete this training during the first FULL reporting period after January 1st, 2014. As I am sure all of you know, a full reporting period for psychologists is 3 years. Once every 3 years we must report attainment of 60 hours of CE.

Therefore, if your next reporting deadline is in 2015, that is not a full 3 year reporting period from now. You would be required to take the mandatory CE between now and the end of 2018. Said differently, you have whatever remains of your current reporting period, PLUS ONE full reporting period to fulfill this requirement.

The 6 hours of continuing education in suicide assessment and treatment counts as part of these 60 hours. It is NOT required in addition to the 60 hours.

If you become licensed in 2014 (or later), you have 6 years from licensure to complete this training UNLESS you can document successful completion of the same training no more than 6 years prior to licensure. In this case you may delay completion of your first training for 6 years after you become licensed.

If you are a state or local government employee, or if you are an employee of a community mental health agency and you receive the same training from your employer every 6 years, you are exempted from this requirement. Additionally, these employers may offer the training in 1 six-hour program or in separate shorter programs.

WAC 246-924-255 defines the type of training programs in suicide assessment and treatment that will be acceptable continuing education. Programs must be approved by: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; the Suicide Prevention Resource Center; the American Psychological Association; the American Medical Association; regional or state psychological associations or their subchapters; psychology internship training centers; or an “equivalent organization, educational institution or association.”

Importantly, to be accepted, the program you choose must be provided by a single provider (by this the law means one of the approval entities listed in the paragraph above) and be 6 hours in length. This training may, however, be offered in one or more shorter sessions. For example, on June 7th, WSPA will present a six-hour session on suicide assessment & treatment, divided in two 3-hour units – one with a focus on adult treatment issues, and the other with a focus on child and adolescent treatment issues. The key regulatory matters are that WSPA is the sole provider & the program is 6 hours in length (for more information on this program, click here).

In the 2014 Legislative session, the Washington State legislature amended RCW 43.70.442 to include additional types of providers, with different requirements. Now, chiropractors, naturopaths, nurses, physicians, physician assistants, and physical therapists must complete a one-time only 6-hour continuing education program.

If, however, the relevant disciplining authority determines that training that only includes only screening and referral elements is sufficient for that profession, the CE training need only be 3 hours in length.
The 2014 amendments to the law also require all disciplining authorities (including the Examining Board of Psychology) to update the list of appropriate programs every two years and to include training programs specific to veterans.

Finally, two new amendments to the law require, first, that the Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) and the Health Care Authority (HCA) develop a pilot program directed at assisting primary care providers in the assessment and treatment of mental disorders and tracking outcomes in this program. The second requirement is the development by the secretary of DOH of a Washington State plan for suicide prevention.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please email Lucy Homans at lucy.homans@gmail.com

Do you need to fulfill this state requirement now? Additional information about WSPA's June 7 Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management continuing education event is available here.

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