66.7% of women over the age of 40 report having had a mammogram within the last two years. Mammograms are critical for the detection of breast cancer. Are you one of the professionals who administers these life-saving exams?
If so, you probably know that you need to complete continuing education units (CEUs) to uphold your license. Healthcare continuing education courses are common in fields dealing with radiography, including mammography.
However, unlike most radiography CEUs, the ARRT® alone does not regulate mammography CEUs. The FDA’s Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) also puts rules in place about mammography CEU requirements.
How many CEUs do you need, and where can you complete your mammography continuing education courses? We will answer these two questions and more below, so keep reading for everything you need to know.
Mammography Continuing Education Requirements: Explained
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all mammography professionals complete a minimum of 15 CEUs. The timeline in which you must complete these units depends on the date of the annual MQSA inspection.
Specifically, the FDA mandates that all mammography professionals complete at least 15 CEUs within the 36 months (three years) preceding the MQSA inspection.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists® (ARRT®) also has requirements for continuing education. All radiology professionals must complete at least 24 hours of CEUs every two years.
To meet the ARRT®’s standards, you do not have to take mammography-specific courses. Instead, you can take any general education courses that relate to radiology.
The good news is that the ARRT® will accept your MQSA continuing education units. That means once you complete the 15 CEUs required by the FDA, you only need nine additional credits to satisfy the ARRT®.
State CEU Requirements
Individual states also put continuing education requirements in place for radiology professionals. Because mammograms deal with radiation, mammography professionals are included.
States generally do not require you to obtain a mammography license. Instead, they require mammography professionals to have a general radiography license eligible in that state.
Luckily, many states accept ARRT® licenses for this requirement. That means that as long as you meet the ARRT®’s continuing education standards, you will be in good standing with your state.
Initial Licensure Requirements
The MQSA has educational requirements you must fulfill even before you can practice mammography independently.
First, you must undergo at least 40 hours of training with a qualified mammography instructor. The instructor must teach courses on breast anatomy and physiology, breast implant imaging, positioning and compression, and quality assurance and quality control.
Additionally, you must conduct at least 25 real-life mammograms. You must conduct these under an MQSA-certified facility’s supervision.
Finally, you must complete eight hours of specialized training. You must complete eight hours per modality you use in practice. Radiology modalities include screen film, xeromammography, and digital mammography, which we are talking about next.
Digital Mammography Requirements
Will you provide digital mammograms during the course of your work day? If so, there are additional CEU requirements you need to know about.
Before delivering a digital mammogram, you must complete eight hours of digital mammography training. This is a one-time requirement. That means after you take this course the first time, you do not have to take it again.
Other Important Mammography CEU Requirements
The MQSA is pretty neutral when it comes to course requirements. Your units should count as long as they are specific to mammography. And, of course, you should ensure these units come from a qualified provider.
Previously, the FDA also required mammography professionals to obtain six units related to modalities (listed above). This was a continuing requirement, meaning professionals had to complete these six credits every three years.
However, the FDA has since rolled back this requirement. It is indefinitely delaying the enforcement of this educational requirement. But be on the lookout for changes to this strategy in the future.
The MQSA: Explained
As mentioned, the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) regulates mammography professionals and the FDA enforces MQSA and the requirements it puts in place.
This law went into effect in the early 1990s. Congress passed it with the goal of providing women with easier and more affordable access to mammograms.
Not just any healthcare provider can offer mammograms. It must first obtain MQSA certification. Keep this in mind when you are hunting for jobs. Facilities that do not hold MQSA certification can not legally offer mammograms.
Do I Need to Be MQSA-Certified?
No, you do not need to be MQSA-certified to practice mammography as an individual professional. MQSA certification is for facilities that offer mammograms.
When Is the Annual MQSA Inspection?
Knowing the date of the MQSA inspection is essential to understanding when your 36-month period begins and ends. MQSA inspection dates vary based on the healthcare provider you work for.
The best strategy, then, is to speak to your supervisor. He or she should know the date of the annual MQSA inspection.
However, you may be wondering: what if the inspection occurs and I have not been certified for 36 months? The MQSA will never shorten your window. That means you will not be evaluated if fewer than 36 months have passed.
When Are ARRT or State CEUs Due?
Do you need to complete ARRT® CEUs to maintain your state licensure? Then you are probably wondering about the deadline by which you have to have your credits completed.
The ARRT® operates based on bienniums. This means that you must complete your CEUs within two years. And the beginning and end of that two-year period depend on your birthday.
You must complete your ARRT® continuing education courses on or before the last day of the month that comes before your birth month. That means if you are born in January, you would need to complete your CEUs by December 31st.
Does the ARRT Exam Count Toward CEUs?
Are you a recently certified mammography professional? Then you may be wondering if your ARRT® certification exam counts toward the MQSA continuing education requirement. The answer is that it depends.
To count towards your ARRT® course requirements, you must have a biennium that began before December 31st, 2017. The exam does not count as CEUs for those with current ARRT® bienniums starting after January 1st, 2018.
If the exam does count for you, you will receive 24 Category A credits. You may also count these credits towards your 15 CEUs required by the MQSA.
Does Applications Training Count Toward CEUs?
Did you earn credits during applications training? If so, these credits qualify toward the MQSA’s requirements.
It is important to note that the same credits may not qualify for your ARRT® or state license.
Where to Take Mammography CEUs Online
Both the MQSA and ARRT® allow for digital CEUs. In other words, you can take your courses online. Of course, traditional in-person course formats and homestudy courses are also acceptable.
Here is what you need to know about taking mammogram continuing education courses.
The hands-down best way to complete your CEUs is online. Online classes are convenient and ideal for working professionals like you.
Plus, neither the ARRT® nor the MQSA put limits on online coursework. That means you can take all of your CEUs online, if that works best for you.
The only thing to make sure of when searching for online mammography courses is that they are Category A or A+. Also, make sure they are ARRT- and/or MQSA-accepted.
Are You Looking for a Healthcare Continuing Education Course?
Mammography professionals must complete continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their state licenses and meet MQSA requirements. You must earn 15 CEUs in three years for the MQSA, and you must complete 24 units every two years for your state or ARRT® license.
Are you searching for accredited mammography education that counts toward your CEUs? Scrubs CE is your one-stop shop for all radiology education. Browse our ARRT®-accredited courses today to find the online class you have been searching for!