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There are many ways to learn and, as Sophie Wickins explains, you can make your CPD work for you

At the start of a recent workshop for CSP members, I asked the participants to tell me about the activities they did as part of their continuing professional development (CPD).

Their response surprised me. ‘We don’t get to do CPD,’ they said. On being asked what CPD meant to them, they answered ‘courses’.  

I rephrased my initial question, asking: ‘What work-based learning do you do?’

This prompted a much more positive response, with delegates suggesting activities such as supervision, job shadowing and in-service training. I then asked whether these activities could count as CPD.

Their response was unanimous: ‘Yes’.

So what does the term CPD mean?

CPD is two things.

  • First, it is the specific activities we do for our personal and professional development.
  • Second, it’s a cycle or process that’s underpinned by critical thinking.

To make the most of your CPD, you need to think critically about it:are you making the most of the available learning opportunities?

  • How do your own learning needs relate to the needs of the service?
  • How could you best meet your learning needs (are courses really the only option)?
  • Do you recognise, value and make the most of workplace learning as part of your CPD? 

The Championing CPD project is developing the role of learning champions to help support their peers to get the most from work-based learning activities and linking this to their CPD.

Many ways to learn

It’s important to recognise the variety of learning opportunities on hand. You might, for example, want to focus on this during national Learning at Work (LAW) Day on 23 May, which is run by the Campaign for Learning.

The campaign became a charity in 1997 and its sole purpose is championing lifelong learning.

This year’s theme, ‘Many ways to learn’, offers an ideal opportunity to promote the benefits of workplace learning and to participate in some exciting learning activities.

On LAW Day why not think about how you approach learning at work? For example, do you recognise experiential or on the job learning as a valuable part of your CPD?

Think about how you might demonstrate the benefits of your CPD to  your service users and organisation.

You might, for example, say that by completing your injection therapy diploma patients can now access this treatment locally.

It’s also a chance to provide different learning opportunities for all staff which may help to boost knowledge, skills, motivation and morale.

You might want to use the day to celebrate the learning that is already available, such as regular peer supervision or a structured in-service training programme or protected time for reflective practice.

You might seize the opportunity to consider the possibility of change.

For example, you might use patient feedback and outcomes measures to make the case for specific CPD activity.

One example might be enabing a community respiratory physiotherapist working in the community to undertake training to become an independent prescriber.

As LAW Day is part of a national campaign, involving all sorts of workplaces and employers, you could see what else is going on in your organisation or local area.

You might like to think about how you could use the day as a way to link up with colleagues and peers from other workplaces or professions. For example, you might hold a lunchtime event with another clinical group in your hospital.

Alternatively, if you work in the private sector, hold a training session with a local business about publicising your services in the media.

Look at the list of CPD activities for some ideas

If you are a line manager, you might consider using LAW Day to review how you can create and sustain a positive and enabling learning environment at work. One possibility might be to look at having a learning champion within your team, who can help to support the learning and development of his or her peers.

Supporting others’ learning and development

Becoming a learning champion is a great way to share your enthusiasm for learning with your peers and colleagues.

Examples include:

  • Personal development Develop your skills in supporting others to learn and develop; provide evidence of your own knowledge, skills and behaviours (see the CSP’s Physiotherapy Framework).
  • Career advancement Develop skills relevant to your role and future aspirations; provide evidence to support appraisals, performance reviews or regulation.
  • Contribute to your workplace
  • Boost morale among your colleagues; create an environment in which learning is integral to practice; link workplace learning to the CSP Code and Quality Assurance Standards.
  • Employability  Show how your learning (and supporting others’ learning) has benefited your practice, your service users and organisation.
  • Any CSP member can become a learning champion. The role is supported through a peer network, practical resources and the Championing CPD team.

With more understanding of learning opportunities, maybe next time I ask ‘What activities do you do as part of your CPD?’ the response will be very different. fl

Sophie Wickins is a fieldwork officer with the CSP’s Championing CPD Project, which is funded by the Union Learning Fund                     

Suggested CPD Activities

Many ways to learn
Look at the example CPD activities listed in Everyday CPD and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) website (see further information).

Now consider your own workplace approach to learning and CPD: Does your workplace recognise and make the most of what’s available?

How could you use LAW Day to highlight these opportunities? Discuss this article at a team meeting and plan a learning activity for LAW Day.

Here are other ideas:

  • Host a debate: If you have been inspired by the discussions at CSP’s annual representative conference last month, consider hosting a debate of your own.
  • Split into teams ‘for’ and ‘against’ a topic such as ‘digital technology and social media can help us deliver better services’.
  • Skills swap: Each team member identifies an area they would like to know more about, such as using the ePortfolio. Another team member then offers to provide that support. If no one has the skills, that could be identified as a team or service learning need.
  • Shadowing: Spend some time with a colleague from a different department or professional background.
  • What can you learn from their way of working?
  • How might it influence your own practice?
  • How could you share that learning experience with others?
  • Remember: whatever the activity, reflect and record it for your CPD!

Further information

  • For more information about CPD and a variety of resources and tools, take a look at ‘Championing CPD’ and ‘My learning space’ in the CPD Resources Gateway section of the ePortfolio. 
  • The ‘new look’ ePortfolio is coming soon. See the ePortfolio page on the CSP’s website for more information, or visit CPD Syd’s 2013 Calendar in the learning and development network on iCSP.

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