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Iowa law requires licensees and registrants to complete continuing education in order to renew their licenses and registrations. 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.

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Subject Matter

The following are the rules related to acceptable subject matter for continuing education for the purposes of renewal. Licensees and registrants are not required to submit courses for formal review and approval by the board; however, course content must comply with the following requirements.

Acceptable Subject Matter

650—25.5(153) Acceptable programs and activities.
      25.5(1) A continuing education activity shall be acceptable and not require board approval if it meets the following criteria:
      a.   It constitutes an organized program of learning (including a workshop or symposium) which contributes directly to the professional competency of the licensee or registrant and is of value to dentistry and applicable to oral health care; and
      b.   It pertains to common subjects or other subject matters which relate to the practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting which are intended to refresh and review, or update knowledge of new or existing concepts and techniques, and enhance the dental health of the public; and
      c.   It is conducted by individuals who have sufficient special education, training and experience to be considered experts concerning the subject matter of the program. The program must include a written outline or manual that substantively pertains to the subject matter of the program.

      25.5(2) Types of activities acceptable for continuing dental education credit may include:
      a.   A dental science course that includes topics which address the clinical practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, dental assisting and dental public health.
      b.   Courses in record keeping, medical conditions which may have an effect on oral health, ergonomics related to clinical practice, HIPAA, risk management, sexual boundaries, communication with patients, OSHA regulations, and the discontinuation of practice related to the transition of patient care and patient records.
      c.   Sessions attended at a multiday convention-type meeting. A multiday convention-type meeting is held at a national, state, or regional level and involves a variety of concurrent educational experiences directly related to the practice of dentistry.
      d.   Postgraduate study relating to health sciences.
      e.   Successful completion of a recognized specialty examination or the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination.
      f.    Self-study activities.
      g.   Original presentation of continuing dental education courses.
      h.   Publication of scientific articles in professional journals related to dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting.
      i.    Delivery of volunteer dental services without compensation through a free clinic, the purpose of which is the delivery of health care services to low-income or underserved individuals.

      25.5(3) Credit may be given for other continuing education activities upon request and approval by the board.

Unacceptable Subject Matter

650—25.6(153) Unacceptable programs and activities.
      25.6(1) Unacceptable subject matter and activity types include, but are not limited to, personal development, business aspects of practice, business strategy, financial management, marketing, sales, practice growth, personnel management, insurance, and collective bargaining. While desirable, those subjects and activities are not applicable to dental skills, knowledge, and competence. Therefore, such courses will receive no credit toward renewal. The board may deny credit for any course.

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Clarification of Self-Study Activities

All licensees and registrants may complete a maximum of 12 hours of self-study activities every renewal period.  Self-study activities are defined as follows:

Self-study activities” means the study of something by oneself, without direct supervision or attendance in a class. “Self-study activities” may include Internet-based coursework, television viewing, video programs, correspondence work or research, or computer programs that are interactive and require branching, navigation, participation and decision making on the part of the viewer. Internet-based webinars which include the involvement of an instructor and participants in real time and which allow for communication with the instructor through messaging, telephone or other means shall not be construed to be self-study activities.

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Hours Awarded

The number of hours awarded for each course depends on the length of the course. Credit is awarded based on "clock hour." For example, participants at a three (3) hour course receive three (3) hours of credit. This may vary, however, if portions of the course are not eligible for credit. For example, a four (4) hour course that discussed patient communication skills (an acceptable topic) for two (2) hours and covered personnel management (a topic ineligible for continuing education credit) for the remainder of the time would receive only two (2) 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. 

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 1.5 hours of credit per day, with a maximum of six hours per biennium. The hours of credit are for registration and attendance at the meeting, additional credit can be claimed for attending the continuing education courses offered at the meeting.
  • Four (4) hours of credit is allowed for presenting an original table clinic at a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • Two (2) hours of credit is awarded for attendance at the table clinic session of a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • 15 hours of credit per semester is awarded for postgraduate study relating to health sciences.
  • 15 hours of credit is awarded for successful completion of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) for dental assistants, 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 five hours per article, maximum of 20 hours per biennium.
  • Duplicate credit cannot be claimed for completing the same course in a biennium.
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Reporting Continuing Education

Continuing education is reported at the time of license or registration renewal. Approximately 60 days before your license or registration expires, you will receive an email, notifying you about renewal.

As part of the renewal, licensees and registrants must report the number of continuing education hours completed.  Additionally, licensees and registrants must provide the dates that they completed the mandatory abuse training, unless they qualify for an exemption or extension.  Licensees and registrants are not required to provide proof of continuing education unless requested by the board.

Licensees and registrants must provide the expiration date of the current CPR certification. Evidence of current CPR certification  must be provided to the board upon request.

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Retention of Continuing Education Documentation

Board rules require licensees and registrants to maintain a file of all continuing education courses attended. Licensees and registrants must maintain proof of attendance for four years after the year of attendance.

Continuing Education Audits

The board routinely audits renewals and may require licensees and registrants to submit evidence of all hours claimed for renewal. Failure to document enough continuing education hours could result in possible disciplinary action of a license or registration.

If a licensee or registrant loses copies of the proof of attendance forms, you should contact the course sponsor(s) for duplicate copies or other evidence of hours completed.

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Extensions and Exemptions

The board may grant individual extensions or exemptions in the following cases:

  • The current biennium renewal period, or portion thereof, following original issuance of a license or registration (first renewal in Iowa);
  • 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; 
  • Other periods of active practice and absence from the state approved by the board; and
  • 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.

Note: A licensed physician must also sign the form requesting extension or exemption based on illness or injury. The board may require the applicant to make up a certain portion or all of the minimum education requirements.

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