International Perspectives in Different Countries
Continuing Professional Education in the United States: A Strategic Analysis of Current and Future Directions
Arthur L. Wilson & Ronald M. Cervero
The purpose of this chapter is to offer a strategic analysis of the current state of continuing professional education (CPE) in the United States and possible future directions. Continuing professional education goes by many names in the US: continuing education, continuing education for the professions, lifelong learning, post-professional training, as well as terms specific to individual professions, such as continuing legal education and continuing medical education. For our effort here, all such terms refer to the phenomenon of practitioners in the professions continuing to learn throughout their professional career lifespan to maintain and improve their practices. As we shall see, this description provides a rudimentary understanding of continuing professional education. It is widely recognized now that the necessary pre-professional training that professionals acquire (e.g., business schools, law schools, medical schools, nursing schools, architecture schools, military schools, seminaries, teacher training colleges) is insufficient for practitioners to remain proficient throughout a lifetime career (Cervero, 2011; Cervero & Daley, 2010; Houle, 1980). If the major professions in the US staked out their disciplinary territories through their marriage with higher education in the middle and late 19th century, then the latter part of the 20th century saw professional schools and other entities developing educational programs for working professionals to stay “up to date” with new knowledge being developed, to learn changing treatment protocols, to keep up with ever-changing roles and effects of technology in professional practice, and most recently,...
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