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Build your case

Jo Etherton from the CSP’s Championing CPD Project looks at what motivates us to improve and reflect on our practice

For me, engaging in continuing professional development (CPD) springs from a motivation to do something, do it differently, or do it better.

Although learning and developing for personal benefit is valuable, evidence suggests that adults who actively engage in learning are more confident, enjoy higher self-esteem and have greater life satisfaction.

Personally, I’m not aware that I am striving for such things. Rather, I want to improve how I am as a physiotherapist, mother, wife and daughter.

I want to do things differently to benefit my relationships and others, and assume I’m not unique in this.

The need to show how patients and clients are central to professional decision-making, including CPD, has never been as important as it is now.

The CSP has linked professionalism, CPD and patient-centred care in its resources, such as the Code of Professional Values and Behaviours, for many years.

Broader developments such as the Francis report into events in Mid Staffordshire and the revised Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) standards also highlight the need for patients to be at the centre of care.

Principle four of the CSP code states we will strive to continuously improve. By enacting this principle through CPD we can respond to advances in evidence base, political, social and financial climates – ensuring we are well-placed to deliver the best service possible.

The difficulty lies in sharing this concept with others, who may not appreciate the link between an individual’s evolving practice and the ever-changing, bigger picture (such as the development of the profession).

This is further complicated by the fact that emerging changes to a patient’s or client’s experiences, services and organisations brought about by an individual’s evolving practice may be subtle and hard to track.

For example, how long would it take to gather sufficient clinical outcome measures to convince your manager that your management of certain patients has changed? One, seven or 17 patients?

As another example, how long does it take for a change in the practice of one person to be reflected in a reduction in waiting lists?

It is a Championing CPD project objective to help members to articulate this link and demonstrate to others the value of their CPD. This article suggests a structure to help you think this through by focusing on who stands to benefit from the outcomes of your changing practice: Me (as an individual therapist), My service (your colleagues, service users and clients) and My organisation (employer).

Being able to articulate how and why your CPD adds value will strengthen your case for learning and development support.

A need for change?

Assuming we agree that engaging in CPD is about enhancing practice, thinking critically, we should first establish if a change needs to be made, where and to what. Where is the evidence?   

Thinking about Me. Have you identified a learning need during reflective practice? Maybe an audit of your clinical outcomes compared to others in your department has highlighted a learning need?

Or, looking forward in your career has highlighted a development need which you’ve formulated into a learning outcome.

Thinking about My service. Do you need to familiarise yourself with the evolving evidence base underpinning your service? Are local population needs changing, which your changed practice could meet? What does service user feedback indicate about satisfaction with current service delivery?

Thinking about My organisation

Could your service make a greater contribution to organisation achievement? Could changing practice improve your productivity or offer a succession planning solution? How does your learning support achievement of organisation priorities?

Achieving change

Once you are happy that there is evidence to support a need for change, think critically about what knowledge, skills and behaviours are required in order to promote the change, and how it might be achieved most efficiently and effectively?

The CSP framework could help.

Thinking about Me

  • Are you best placed to undertake the development required to make this change happen?
  • What exactly are your learning outcomes?
  • What are your preferred learning styles?
  • What learning opportunities and resources can you access? Can you meet the time commitments?

Thinking about My service

  • Will current service delivery be sustained while you undertake CPD? Will policies or procedures require updating in order for any resulting changes in practice to take effect.
  • In addition, what impact could this have on colleagues?
  • When considering the topic of My organisation, will organisational approval required?

Evidencing change

Finally, we need to think about how changes can be articulated, evidenced and evaluated. Where could this evidence come from and will there need to be long or short-term evaluation? Referring back to the evidence sources you used initially to identify a need for change will be helpful.  

Thinking about Me. What sort of evidence could be included in your portfolio? What does the collected evidence need to demonstrate about your practice to support career development? Does sharing your success provide further CPD opportunities, in communication skills, for example, and what evidence would you need?

Could the resulting change in service provision place you in a favourable position with service commissioners and if so what would they need to see to convince them accordingly? How long would you need to collect data for and could this offer wider service auditing opportunity?

Could sharing the effect of your changed practice offer opportunities to promote your organisation and its services?

Final thoughts

Making decisions about your CPD, in terms of its implications for patients and services, for example, demonstrates critical thought and professionalism.

You are the best person to identify and demonstrate the value your CPD contributes to your practice, service and organisation, adding sway to your case for securing access to learning and development opportunities. fl 

Case studies

Jenny wanted support to undertake injection therapy training.
Me: injection therapy is an essential skill for her planned career progression.
My service: improved access to injection therapy for current services users who at present have to be referred to secondary care services.
Associated with which are costs, waiting lists and patient dissatisfaction.  
My organisation: Improved patient experience and integrated service access.
Steve wanted support to write an article for his professional interest group publication about his experience of implementing use of EQ5D5L in his service.
Me: develop his ability to express himself succinctly, and gain professional recognition
My service: the article may prompt discussion about how EQ5D5L could be used in other services or in his service more effectively.
My organisation: demonstration of application and use of standardised outcome measures

Why not turn this article into CPD?

This task is designed to help you identify and think critically about which links between your CPD, Me, My service and My Organisation could be particularly persuasive for you.  

In a group setting, one member shares a story of successfully securing support for CPD. This support could be financial, time, access to people or resources, for example.

The other members take turns to ask a question and lead a brief discussion about what elements of the example made it successful.

For each element, consider why this is of interest to three areas of your life: Me, My service or My organisation. Record your decisions and reflect on which headings have the most and least written under them.

The Championing CPD project loves a good story because examples of practice excellence are inspirational.

So please let us know how you get on, and let’s shout about how your CPD adds value to ‘me, my service and my organisation’.


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Article Information


Jo Etherton

Issue date

19 June 2013

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