According to a popular dictionary, the term 'Credit' means a "course unit", that is, "a unit of study, often equivalent to an hour of class time, in a course of higher education."
, the official website of the American Nurses Association, defines a Continuing Education Credit as "A unit of measurement that describes 50 minutes of an organized learning activity, that is either didactic or clinical experience".
There are several ways in which Credits can be earned. These include completion of regular college/in-house courses, completion of any relevant Continuing Education Courses offered by professional bodies, completion of distance learning or online course workshops and tutorials, presenting or attending course seminars, nursing-related medical presentations, and developing or teaching some course material, published papers, articles or books.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of Credits that one can earn.
The first one is known as `PLAR' (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) Credit. In this, the learner's previous workplace experience is compared to the learning requirements of a particular Continuing Education Course or program, and an assessment is made and a Credit awarded in recognition.
The Canadian Labor Force Development Board defines PLAR as a "process of identifying, assessing and recognizing what a person knows and can do for the purpose of awarding academic Credit".
The second is `transfer' Credit. This type of Credit award is based on some college and university courses completed already. In this, the learner's portfolio, transcripts and referee reports are assessed before awarding a Credit. This type of Credit can compensate for part of current or intended course requirements.
The third type is the `exemption' Credit. Here too, the assessment method is the same as in transfer Credit. But here, instead of getting a percent of Credit, the learner gets full [100%] Credit and is totally exempted from fulfilling any one course requirement.
Continuing Education agencies usually charge a non-refundable service fee for processing the application for Credit. Many of them conduct online quizzes and tests as part of their assessment before awarding Credits.