Advice and resources to help you complete your CPD cycle by the end of the year
I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact the end of the year is fast approaching. This is mainly because I’ve not yet had my summer holiday. Although as I’m typing this, I am winging my way over to Melbourne and Tasmania for said holiday so things aren’t quite as dire as that might sound. While shopping last weekend, I was greeted with Christmas decorations and ‘great ideas for presents’, and I swear I heard a carol in Boots while I picked up some hand sanitiser at the airport just now. So whether I’ve had my break or not, the rest of the world is very clearly gearing up for the end of year, with all that that entails.
All of these visual and auditory cues are reminding me that, with 2020 fast approaching, you’ll be gearing up for the end of the year in a slightly different way. I’ve mentioned it before in previous articles, but I am always amazed by how many members use the break to catch up on recording their professional development.
The ePortfolio and the CSP Learning Hub see a significant spike every year from the end of November/beginning of December through into January and February of the next year. Normally you can guarantee that at any point in a 24-hour period, there will be around 40 of you logged on. And this includes at three in the morning most days – what’s that about? But from the end of November this becomes somewhere around 135 of you, at any one point, writing up what you’ve learnt, forward planning and generally evidencing your professional development. Given that not all members use the CSP’s platform, I imagine that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CPD activity in this period.
And biennially we always see this activity continue until March as you prepare in case you are randomly selected for HCPC CPD Audit. So as we’re moving through into that part of the cycle again, I’m sure we’ll see this pattern again in 2020.
While many of you will hit the ground running in terms of CPD and simply get on with it, I’m penning this article for those who might need a little nudge. And if you are already gearing up to get on with it, you will still find some of the ideas and tips in the article useful.
The joy of my job is that it is so outward facing – I get to meet so many of you. The hazard of my job is that if I mention that my team has responsibility for CPD and the ePortfolio I sometimes see a momentary look of guilt cross a few of those faces. If I were asked to list the top five reasons that I hear, in the conversations following that initial guilty look, I’d say that time, headspace, not quite knowing where to start, wanting support, and simply putting it off would make it into the list.
Work is becoming more pressured. The demands on you as clinicians, managers, support workers, students or lecturers is increasing. A decade ago my colleagues writing a similar CPD article for Frontline would have been talking about protected time every week for CPD. While employers remain obligated to supporting their staff to develop, and in the main they are supportive, the opportunity for protected time to record your CPD during work hours has become a luxury.
With our home lives getting busier and more fast-paced as we juggle competing demands on our time, it becomes increasingly important to find a way to carve out time to record your CPD.
There’s no one way to do this. There are 58,000 of you with completely different lives and priorities but even so these are a few things you can do whatever your circumstance.
Say no to things
Sounds so easy but is often more difficult to achieve. With so many connections at our fingertips through social media, along with families, friends, work, keeping on top of the house and finances, it can sometimes feel like a treadmill. So give yourself permission to say no.
And if you can’t say no, because the reality is sometimes it is impossible to do, then prioritise. I find it helpful to take a step back and ask myself – does it matter if I don’t do this now? This way things either fall off my to-do list permanently or they eventually work their way up to the top of the list. If I apply that to my least favourite household chore, the ironing: it’s fine while I have enough shirts for work, but eventually it will move to the top of my list because either the ironing pile is bothering me, or I have run out of shirts for work.
I know of colleagues who use their commute time to listen to podcasts in their cars, or use their train journeys to read or record their learning. I do the latter – if I have to spend an hour on a tube each morning, then I might as well make it work for me in as many ways as I can. It’s why, when we redesigned the ePortfolio, we developed one that could be used on mobile devices because we knew that most of you needed a platform to access anywhere any time.
Sometimes we have the time but with so much going on, we’re not in the right headspace to engage with our own professional development, or record what we’ve learnt.
We talked earlier about giving yourself permission to say no, along with that, giving yourself permission to stop and breathe is also essential.
It is also important to stay connected with something you love. The article in the September Frontline focused on wellbeing. While it was aimed at students, the principles apply whether we’re support workers, clinicians, managers, teachers or working in research. The ideas my colleague Ciara suggested might be helpful, and we’ve talked about exercise and mindfulness/meditation in previous CPD articles, but the point is whatever floats your boat – dance, pottery, walking through the woods, bouldering – make time for it. Apart from being enjoyable in itself, you’ll find that by doing something you love you’ll be recharged, happier, and you might even find that by tapping back into your creative spirit you’re more able to express your thoughts and ideas – useful for those reflections.
Where do I start?
So now you’re in the right zone to learn or reflect on what you’ve learned, what next?
Make a plan. We’ll come back to this in more detail in next month’s article – where we’ll focus on how to carry out that plan (making decisions, sticking to them, rewarding yourself) - but it’s worth saying that taking the time to think about what you need to do before you dive in is always beneficial. Some of us like our lists, others like more detail but however you do it, make sure you are clear about what you want to do/achieve before you begin.
Don’t put it off
The other thing it is important to take note of is the dialogue inside your own head. Change it if you need to. The statements ‘I have to do this reflection’ and ‘I want to write this up’ signal such different motivations. You may never want to record your CPD - I understand. From my window, I can see people relaxing in the park, walking their dogs, and jogging while I work. Given half the chance I’d be out there with them but if I see this as a chore – something I have to do – then watching them out the window becomes distracting or painful and I’ll resent what I’m doing. But if I rephase my internal dialogue so that I can see the benefits of what I’m doing, or I rephrase my thoughts so that this becomes something I actively decide to do then I might even enjoy it.
If you’re likely to get distracted or are struggling to rephrase your internal dialogue, then there’s nothing like asking someone to check up on you to help you stay on track. It’s why apps often have built-in alerts so that you can set yourself reminders and receive a ‘well done’ once you’ve achieved what you set our to do, but rather than rely on technology, why not simply ask a friend or colleague to ask how it is going?
If you’re struggling with structure then a tool like CSP ePortfolio can be immensely helpful. Alternatively look back over your notes from university, or go online to find other tools and solutions. While it’s possible to spend hours online watching cute animal videos on YouTube, did you know that it also has a good number of tutorials on reflective writing etc? As always be critical of what you’re watching but with a repository that vast, you’ll find a style/approach that works for you.
I mentioned early in the article about employers and their responsibility to support your development. While funding and time may be getting squeezed, many employers produce resources, guidance and support for you as staff. Tap into them. Often these resources are open access and completely transferable and applicable, even if you don’t work within that organisation or even the same sector, so if you are self-employed or work for a small organisation, don’t be afraid to look around online.
The CPD activity is built into the main article this time. So all you need to do this month is decide where you are on the cycle that I’ve described and take on board the points. Happy reflecting!
Number of subscribers: 3