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In times of uncertainty, the need for CSP members to demonstrate how they are keeping up-to-date is more important than ever. Sophie Wickins, Fieldwork Officer wirth the CSP's Championing CPD project, explains.

Our continuing professional development (CPD) is like a journey. Everyone has a destination to reach, but our way of getting there may present challenges and obstacles. These obstacles can be very frustrating and prevent us from reaching our goal.

Examples of such obstacles include a lack of funding, the impact the work is having on family life or a lack of management support. But if we can be more creative, flexible and critical about our CPD journey, we can change our focus and ensure that we end up where we want to. 

Having been a CSP member for 15 years, I can look back on how the approach to CPD has changed. When I first qualified, the focus was on doing formal learning, such as courses and training. There was a sense of needing to fill my portfolio with as many certificates as I could, to show that I was continually learning.

When I think back to how I used all those courses within my practice, it was hugely variable. But I never really stopped to ask the following questions: ‘Why have I been able to use one particular treatment modality over another?’ ‘Why did I choose to do one course over another?’

When reviewing my reflections from those CPD activities, I am none the wiser, as they were brief to say the least! It is fair to say that I was probably not very ‘mature’ in my approach to CPD.

Since 2005 when the CSP launched its Outcomes Model: Demonstrating Professionalism through CPD document, the way in which members have been expected to do their CPD changed. A number of clear principles about CPD were provided:

  • CPD activity should be planned and evaluated in line with identified learning needs, interests and goals
  • Professional development occurs primarily through day-to-day practice and reflecting on learning achievements and ongoing learning needs
  • Individuals have diverse and changing needs as they progress through their career

Applying this more critical, individualised and focused approach to CPD ensures that members can demonstrate the benefits of their learning to improving patient care and service delivery, whatever their area of work and whatever their role (including those in support worker roles).

This outcomes model provides a framework around which members can recognise the complexities of their practice, the diversity of their work and the changing scope or individual and professional practice; it ensures that the destination, rather than how you get there is most important.

You might like to use the Physiotherapy Framework as a tool to help you take a critical approach to your learning needs and in planning your CPD activity; there are frameworks for all members from support worker, through to newly qualified and advanced practitioner level.

This outcome-based approach is supported and endorsed by the Health and Care Professions Council, which requires registered members to maintain records of their CPD. These should show continuous and varied learning activities that have enhanced the quality of practice, patient care and services.

This outcomes approach requires a level of ‘maturity’ towards CPD activity to be developed and applied. To help you to think critically about whether you are achieving this, look at the CPD Excellence table (fig 1) and review your own CPD practice.

The benefit of taking an outcomes approach is that you can demonstrate the value of your CPD through whatever method best suits your personal learning preferences and your service needs; so formal learning and courses may form a part of this, but are not necessarily the best choice for your needs.

Deciding what type of CPD activity to undertake will require you to think critically: What do I want to learn or achieve? What is the most effective way for me to do that? How will I apply and demonstrate my learning has led to benefits for my service and service users?

Remaining focused on the CPD cycle will ensure that you get the best out of whatever learning activity you do and will achieve CPD excellence.

Are you making the most of the CPD opportunities that occur naturally? The Championing CPD Project has developed a guide to help you recognise this (visit:

As a CSP member, you already have access to a variety of opportunities, information and resources to support you with your CPD.

The Championing CPD Project aims to support members to enhance the quality of their CPD activity The CPD Skills documents aim to provide a strong foundation from which you can develop and improve your CPD habits. fl

What is CPD excellence?

Demonstration of the CPD cycle as part of everyday practice. It is:

  • Continuous: Lifelong learning; maintenance of competence in role throughout career
  • Outcomes-focused: What you have learned, rather than how you learned it
  • Self-directed and autonomous: Committed to own CPD
  • Varied: A blend of activities
  • Relevant: Transferable to workplace; applicable to everyday practice
  • Sustainable: Long term focus; flexible; practical
  • Recorded: Activity is evaluated and recorded as part of reflective process

Examples of CPD support from the CSP

  • The ePortfolio: A space for you to plan, record and evaluate your CPD activity
  • The iCSP network: An interactive space to discuss and share ideas and practice
  • Frontline: Highlights topical and professional issues
  • Physiotherapy journal: Offers research, academic reviews and more
  • Regional networks: Meet peers and keep up to date with local issues
  • Professional networks: Meet peers and discuss practice-related issues
  • Library and Information service: Help in accessing information

Further reading

  • Championing CPD Project: for information on achieving CPD excellence in changing workplace contexts, with specific information and resources for associates, newly qualified members and advanced practitioners
  • CPD Resources Gateway: To find the interactive ‘developing and using learning outcomes’ webfolio, visit: This contains information, activities and downloadable forms
  • HCPC CPD Standards: Visit:

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Article Information


Sophie Wickins

Issue date

2 January 2013

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