Program Description

Description of the Perinatal Continuing Education Program

Who offers the Perinatal Continuing Education Program?

The PCEP Implementation Manual CD contains directions and downloadable materials for 3 implementation pathways. Original outreach education use of PCEP through Initial Program and Continuation Program pathways are described in detail. The Internal Use pathway allows any hospital to implement PCEP within that facility, independent from any other hospital.

Outreach education use of PCEP is typically coordinated by a regional medical center for the perinatal staff of hospitals within the center's service region. Many of the regional centers using the Perinatal Continuing Education Program for outreach also use PCEP within their own institutions.

Regional perinatal medical centers are large institutions that serve hospitals in the surrounding geographic area. Whether rural or urban, these hospitals have three basic capabilities:

  • in-patient maternal/fetal and neonatal intensive care with neonatologists and maternal fetal medicine subspecialists (except for centers, such as children's hospitals, that serve exclusively as neonatal referral centers)
  • neonatal transport system, with patients transferred from other hospitals into the center
  • an outreach education program, or plans to begin one


Other groups have also offered PCEP successfully:

  • health care corporations for hospitals within their corporate network
  • statewide and regional perinatal consortia
  • neonatology private practice groups for the hospitals they staff

For the purposes of PCEP delivery, these large medical centers and other entities offering PCEP are termed 'coordinating centers'.


Who participates in the Perinatal Continuing Education Program?


  • obstetricians
  • family physicians
  • pediatricians

Nurses and Nurse Practitioners:

  • nurse midwives
  • nurses working in obstetric and/or neonatal care areas
  • nurse practitioners caring for pregnant women or newborn babies

Respiratory Therapists

Other perinatal care providers, especially those who may provide care for pregnant women or newborns only during crisis situations, including:

  • emergency room physicians and nurses
  • nursing supervisors
  • anesthesiologists
  • nurse anesthetists
  • operating room nurses


What are the unique aspects of PCEP?

The Perinatal Continuing Education Program is a comprehensive program that considers all facets of effective perinatal care:

  • knowledge
  • skills
  • perinatal care goals and resources
  • policies, procedures, and care routines


PCEP is designed to be offered for outreach education over a 38 week period. Internal use of PCEP has a shorter timeline. Program participation in any of the 3 implementation pathways involves several educational activities, in addition to independent self-study of the PCEP books. Corresponding skill instruction is provided by participating PCEP hospital coordinators and coordinating center outreach education staff.

Participation by all perinatal care providers facilitates communication among obstetric and neonatal care providers, and between medical and nursing staffs. Joint physician-nurse participation, together with tools incorporated into PCEP, fosters collaborative assessment of perinatal care resources and goals, as well as review or development of consistent policies, procedures, and care routines.


What are the core components of the Perinatal Continuing Education Program?

  • self-instructional materials with broad perinatal content
  • cognitive information together with manual skill instruction
  • mechanism for self-determination of perinatal care goals, resources, and care routines
  • participation by all perinatal health care providers: obstetricians, nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pediatricians, nurse midwives, family physicians, and others providing care to pregnant women or newborn babies
  • continuing education credit available to all participants
  • participating-hospital based, coordinating center facilitated


Is PCEP current?

Yes. Frequent updating of book content has been a feature of PCEP since its inception. Program components are revised as necessary to keep pace with content updates in the books and changes in perinatal care. Complete review and revision by a panel of obstetrical and neonatal nursing and physician experts is reflected in the 2012, 2nd edition of the AAP published books and CD Implementation Manual.


How much time does it take to deliver PCEP?

PCEP is designed to be economical of both coordinating center staff time and participating hospital staff time. Detailed evaluation by staff of The Children's Hospital, Denver has documented (abstracts #12 and #14) cost and time commitment of both coordinating center and participating hospital staff for their involvement in PCEP.

It is a comprehensive program that unfolds over time in each participating hospital and follows an organized yet flexible strategy. From the initial contact to the final meeting is a span of about 38 weeks. Active study of the PCEP books by participating hospital staff starts at week 20 of that time span.

Program implementation can occur simultaneously in 3 to 6 participating hospitals. Implementation for groups of hospitals can overlap. During the 9-10 months of program implementation, only 3-4 visits by coordinating center staff to each participating hospital are needed. Those visits are 1-3 hours in length and may be clustered so that 2 or 3 hospitals can be visited in one day.

Coordinating center personnel time needed to deliver PCEP depends on the number of hospitals involved in the program.

PCEP outreach education implementation for twelve (12) hospitals per year can comfortably be accomplished with coordinating center staff time of:

  • neonatologist or maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist 5-10%
  • outreach nurse 50-75%
  • secretary 10-20%


How much time do participants need?
(Continuing Education Credits)

Participant study time closely matches the continuing education credit hours approved. While the number of credits is significant, time expenditure is easily managed. Book study is self-paced and, when it is undertaken with participation in the complete program, occurs over 4-5 months.

The Perinatal Continuing Education Program books are approved for continuing education credit for anyone who studies the books and follows the directions on National credit is available only for the cognitive material. Some coordinating centers obtain separate, additional nursing credits for practice of the skills.

Every nurse, physician, respiratory therapist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or other perinatal health care provider can now earn up to 54 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 credit(s)TM - OR - Contact Hours, whether they participate in the complete program or simply order a set of PCEP books for themselves.

Please see the continuing education credit page for disclosure statements and credit requirements.


How are new staff and new concepts taught?

Following implementation of the Initial Program, a Continuation Program is intended to be offered on a cyclical basis to each participating hospital, approximately every three to four years. The PCEP Continuation Program is designed to address these issues:

  • decay of knowledge that occurs over time
  • new information regarding perinatal care
  • new physicians and new nursing staff members

Some coordinating centers have consistently offered PCEP to their referring hospitals every 3-4 years.


How much does PCEP cost to implement?

For coordinating centers, cost depends in part on how many participating hospitals are involved in PCEP at any one time. Program cost is nearly always shared between the implementing center and the participating hospital. Typically the participating hospital buys a set of PCEP workbooks for each participant.

Financing may come from a variety of sources, including the participating hospital's education budget, local charities, the hospital auxillary, etc. Nurses often buy their own workbooks and are reimbursed by the hospital upon completion. Alternatively, a hospital may buy workbooks for each nursing staff member and ask that they each sign a contract to complete book study and skill practice, or pay the hospital back for the cost of their books. Sometimes, hospitals expect nursing staff members to buy their workbooks, but will reimburse them or pay for the continuing education credits when book study is completed. Medical staff usually buy their own books. Considering the cost of conference registration and travel, many nurses and physicians see PCEP book study as an extraordinarily economical and convenient way to earn a significant number of continuing education credits

The predictable implementation cycles of PCEP allow advance budget planning and scheduling for both coordinating centers and participating hospitals. Cost can be amortized over the years between implementation cycles.


What does the Perinatal Continuing Education Program accomplish?

Extensive evaluation studies of PCEP have shown that the program consistently produces these outcomes:

  • care improves and the number of appropriate care practices increase
  • cognitive knowledge increases and skills improve
  • elective patient care becomes more closely aligned with available resources
  • communication between disciplines and among care providers improves
  • pride and confidence in care delivered increases


Why has PCEP been successful for so long?

PCEP is a user-friendly, practical, affordable program. It provides information and tools useful for assessment of resources and bedside delivery of up-to-date perinatal care. It provides comprehensive and effective education, yet is economical of both participating hospital and coordinating center staff time and resources.


  • improves patient care
  • is organized and efficient to implement
  • produces positive changes in hospital organization for perinatal care
  • provides useful tools for resource assessment and risk reduction
  • is cost effective with exceptionally low per participant cost
  • allows advance budget planning by both coordinating centers offering the program and hospitals participating in it
  • adapts to different users and locations
  • is accepted well by participants
  • makes a substantial number of continuing education credit hours available to all participants