Updated: Jul 28
I designed a planner to help with organizing and planning my continuing education. As dietitians in the US, we have to complete and submit 75 continuing education credits every 5-year cycle.
I don't want to be one of those people that leaves all my credits to the last minute! But I also don't want to simply check off boxes.
I love the fact that this profession allow us to customize our education to suit our specific professional interests and goals within the field of dietetics.
My intention and goal is to make continuing education a part of my normal schedule, to focus on continuing education that helps me develop into the dietitian I want to be. The planner is a tool that provides me a space to work on ME.
I've seen posts on Reddit and Facebook and heard stories about dietitians that have forgotten to do or waited until the last minute to submit their credits.
Being a new dietitian, I want to make sure I don't get myself in that situation of potentially losing my credential. I want to avoid the stress and stay organized!
As a way to stay on top of it all, I designed what I'm calling, "The Continuing Education Planner.”
In this article, I'm going to walk you through the planner and what I do to keep organized and if you're interested in purchasing a pdf of the planner, there will be a link below.
The Planner Pages
So, the planner consists of eight pages that I designed with kind of a minimalist style, simple color scheme, and with this aesthetic and practical dotted grid design.
Going through all of the different pages, we have the cover, which you can use to mark down your cycle years and customize if you like. You can either leave it plain and just throw it in the sleeve of a binder or you can color it and make it your own.
Learning Activity Notes
And next we have the learning activity notes sheet. This one is a two-sided document with several sections for various learning activity components:
On the front at the top there's a box for relevant CPEU information
On the left there is a large section for note-taking
The right hand side there's a section to write out your questions
At the bottom right there's a section to reflect on the activity
The back is the same as the front except minus the CPEU information box.
I usually print these out before I sit down to watch a webinar or do any kind of learning activity so that way I can take notes, write down any questions I have beforehand, any questions that come up during, or things that I want to look up later.
I included the section for reflections since the CDR Activity Log requires us to write a short blurb about how the activity impacted us and if there's anything we'll do differently as a result of the activity.
If you don't enter your activities into the log immediately after, having this section with even just a few thoughts jotted down can do yourself a huge favor later when you're trying to remember what you thought about the activity. Personally, I have found this exercise to be very helpful for me.
The last feature of this page I want to point out is the check box at the top. I included the check box for when I’m going through my binder, I can quickly and easily see I already completed and entered this activity.
The next sheet is the goal sheet, which i think is one of the most, if not the most important sheet here. I keep this page at the front of my binder so that way I see it first thing whenever I open it.
We all have unique goals and it's important to write them down, and come back to them regularly just to reflect and recalibrate.
We all entered this profession of dietetics with different hopes, and goals, and visions for what our future would be and sometimes it takes a little bit of time to reach those career goals. I think the important thing is to write them down, establish a plan, hit your milestones, maybe you don't hit your milestones and you need to recalibrate…
The important thing is to keep working toward what got us excited about this profession in the first place.
This sheet has sections for each year in your cycle. I write down specific goals I want to get accomplished this year, then at the end of the year I look back at what I got done or didn’t get done. Then decide which unfinished goals are worth rolling over to the next year and which ones I'm just not passionate about anymore.
Down below that there are sections for my five year plan. What do I want to get done in my first five year cycle?
Then longer term goals, kind of off in the distance, have a section down at the bottom. Put those big goals out into the universe! Write them down and come back to them regularly!
Mind Map Template
So, this next page is a tool I've found very useful, especially for planning out my blog posts.
Mind maps are useful for so many things, such as reflecting on or understanding concepts from learning activities, plotting out key points for presentations, planning podcasts, and all sorts of things like that.
Obviously, I can just draw my own mind map, but I find it useful to have kind of a template
already done up so that way I can just start filling it out.
Continuing Professional Education Unit (CPEU) Tracker
These next few pages that I'm going to talk about are all trackers, which I personally find satisfying to fill out, but they can sometimes be a little bit hard to keep up on, depending on what I use them for.
If they end up just being a time-suck and not useful, then these may not be the right tool for you.
The Continuing Professional Education Unit Tracker, or CPEU tracker, can help you make sure you're getting your CPEUs done and logged without having to log into myCDR.
I also use the key to color code the bubbles by 'Sphere' so I can better visualize where I’m focussing most of my continuing education credits and pinpoint where I need or want to spend more time for my own unique professional development goals.
There's also a section at the bottom to jot down resource recommendations like webinars, books, articles, journals, etc.
Sometimes a colleague will mention a book, or they saw a webinar that you missed out on, and you want to write that down so you can come back to it. This is a section where you can do that.
The next tracker is a time tracker. I use this every day to track my work hours and keep track of hours I spend on freelance jobs and periodically do a time audit.
I expect not everybody’s interested in physically writing their hours down, but if you’re like me and don't like having that extra document open on your computer throughout the day, this could be a helpful tool for you.
I keep the sheet next to me on my desk and i can just quickly jot down the date, my start/end times, and what I was working on.
Daily Tracker aka Year-in-Pixels aka Year-in-Atoms
The daily tracker, is kind of like a version of “Year-in-Pixels", the bullet-journaling page that a lot of people do, but instead of 'pixels' I called them 'atoms' because science! (We’re kind of chemistry nerds so I thought it made sense.)
For me, I have found it useful for tracking my workouts. I use the key on the right hand side to color code how many minutes I do.
It's helped me visualize and track my progress, which has been hugely motivating for me.
If you have a habit, whether it's working out, or something else, that you want to improve on, then tracking and seeing progress overtime may be useful to help keep you motivated.
So, this last tracker and last page of the bundle, is probably the most aesthetically pleasing page, I think.
The book tracker has five shelves and each shelf has a blank label that you can fill in with whatever you like.
Maybe you have a "to-read" shelf on a specialized topic like renal nutrition that you’re studying for your certification. You can write out all the books that you want to get through, and track them here.
I like to write them out and then color them in once I read it.
Now for a few highlights of other design aspects that I considered when I was creating the planner.
Digital versus Physical Book
So, one of the main reasons I made The Continuing Education Planner a pdf was so when you ordered it, you could get it immediately. You don't have to wait for it to be delivered. You can get it and start printing it out as soon as you download it.
It's super convenient, and you can print as few or as many pages as you need and you can use it year after year.
You pay for it once and you've got it for your lifetime.
And honestly, it’s also a huge investment on my end to try to get something like this printed. So, I wanted to start out with a simple pdf version so I can gauge interest and also build it up with a few more pages before I pursue that.
I’m just throwing it out into the universe! Let me know what you think!
You can always open the pdfs on a tablet and annotate on the documents with a stylus.
Minimalist and Monochromatic
Another design aspect was I wanted it to be pretty without sucking your printer completely dry, which is why I went with a single color and the dotted grid.
The dotted grid is functional, doesn't use up too much ink, and it's aesthetically pleasing.
Personally, I like the look of the dots instead of lined paper, and the dots give the functionality of graphing paper, but it’s more subtle and visually appealing than graphing paper.
Another thing with buying a pdf planner is you can customize it to your needs.
Let's say I’m going to want to do some mind mapping after watching a webinar. I can print out the front page of the learning activity notes page and then print a mind map on the back.
You can print it however you like and customize it however works for you.
If you want to print out eight daily trackers to work on 8 different habits then go ahead and do that!
I think it's nice to be able to print it out however I like instead of purchasing a planner that has set number of pages of each design. I can print out as many as I need.
Additionally, the way I designed the layout of all the pages, you should be able to hole-punch (depending on your hole puncher and what binder you're going to be putting it in) on either the left side or the right side.
So, if you really want to set up a left-handed binder, you could do that. I hope that’s helpful to all my left-handed people out there!
And, of course, there’s the fact that you print it yourself and it’s not a spiral-bound planner means you can just write on the pages as they are while not in a binder.
Not included in the total page count, but is in most of the pages that are not a double-sided document, the second page of each document is a simple dotted grid page.
It’s great to add a little structure to a blank page for making lists, writing notes, drawing, doodling, sketching out ideas, free-handing some mind maps, brainstorming, scratching out data tables, etc.
Where can you buy The Continuing Education Planner?
Last, but not least, how do you get it?
If you would like to get started with organizing your continuing education, while supporting a fellow dietitian, you can get your digital copy of the planner at rd2rd.com/vendor/the_kerrminator.
The link will take you to my shop page. Just click on the planner, and complete the checkout process.
The document will be available for your download right after checkout.
Once you purchase the planner, you will also be entitled to new pages added in the future at no additional cost. The purchase price may increase as the planner expands, but once you buy the planner, that’s all you pay.
I'd love for you to give the planner a try and let me know what you think. The plan is to build off of this original set, create more pages, and expand it over time.
I’m also considering releasing the planner pages individually for those of you who don’t want the whole bundle, but would like to buy one or two of the pages. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in and I’ll try to make it happen!
Your feedback, critiques, criticisms, likes, dislikes will all be taken into consideration with future rollouts. Please feel free to leave comments on this post, reviews on the shop page, email me or DM me on social media letting me know your thoughts on it.
Whether you find it useful, or useless, all thoughts are welcome.
Thanks so much for your support!
About the Author
Sara is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, artist, writer, and video editor. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nutrition from Oregon State University. In 2021 she founded The Kerrminator LLC, which specializes in creative services for Dietitians including video editing, graphic design, and content creation.
Are you interested in starting a side hustle and want to learn more about the potential of video for your business?
You should check out my ebook, Embracing Video to Communicate Nutrition. It offers guidance for exploring your options and steps to get the ball rolling on your new venture.