CPD into action

December is a good time to reflect on what you’ve learnt

CPD into action

Last month we looked at how to get into the right headspace to engage with continuing professional development. In that article, I mentioned my continued awe that so many of you do just that: you use the festive season to reflect on what you’ve learned, forward plan and engage with online learning.

I was discussing this again with a colleague during a break at Physiotherapy UK. She jokingly suggested that given the choice between another re-run of A Christmas Carol with her extended family, she’d take writing reflection any day. At least I hope she was kidding! 

Joking aside, it is clear that the physiotherapy profession is filled with individuals who do take their own development seriously. It’s not just the sheer volume of active ePortfolio users that makes me think that so many of you do. If Physiotherapy UK this year was anything to go by, I’d say that your desire to keep learning is strong – more than 1,400 of you took time off work or gave up part of your weekend to attend. 

The highest number of abstracts ever submitted, the most platform presentations, rapid fives, and posters that we’ve ever seen. Delegate places sold out, a waiting list, and the buzz was amazing. I was delivering a workshop on the Friday, but the conference was at capacity so where I might normally have been able to stay in Birmingham for both days to catch some of the sessions myself, I was politely thrown out on my ear almost immediately after my session to make sure that there was space for you to get in.

So as I keep saying, the end of each year really is a time when physiotherapists and support workers do seem to get focused on their CPD.

I’m hoping that if you read last month’s article you’ve committed to putting time aside to think about how you want to develop. This month’s article will help you to drill down into that – developing your plan, and sticking to it. 

The CPD activity this month will provide the structure to help you create your plan but before we move onto that, there are a few things to remember.

CPD is whatever you decide it needs to be

Here at the CSP we talk a lot about skills, knowledge, behaviours and values. These elements form the basis of the physiotherapy framework, and all four are key to developing yourself professionally. So when we talk about CPD, it isn’t just about learning a new skill. 

Sometimes we need a reminder that the act of becoming courageous, for example, might be just as essential for patient care as going on a course to learn a new technique. It’s also worth remembering that there are at least 45 different activities listed by HCPC and if you look at the activities list you’ll see they are diverse and pretty much cover everything. Even with those 45 activities that the HCPC have listed, it’s not exhaustive, they are only suggestions to give registrants some ideas.

Unique to you

Your professional development is going to be unique to you. 

Right now there are around 58,000 of you – physiotherapists, support workers and students - all at different stages of your career, working in different settings, looking to develop in different ways. Which means that ultimately you will need to decide which activity is best for what you want to develop and depending on what you want to improve, grow in or learn. And the chances are that it will require a combination of activities. 

So what’s the first step? We talked last month about setting aside time to consider how you want to develop in 2020 so let’s pick up there.

Define your goals

Firstly, be clear about your aim(s).

You’ll then need to chunk these up into a set of achievable goals.  To help with this, try thinking about whether these are short or long-term goals.

There’s plenty of literature available to help you set goals, and chances are that if you work in the NHS, you’ll use SMART goals or something similar as part of your annual performance review process, and if you think back to when you were studying to become a physiotherapist, you’ll most definitely have run into them at university. As a refresher though, take a look at this quick reminder about SMART goals. Make sure that your goals are achievable and that they are measurable – otherwise how else will you |know you’ve met them?


If you have a number of goals, you’ll need to decide which is most important. If you have competing priorities with limited time and budget, you may need to make a tough choice and only be able to focus on one or two goals. 

You’ll need to set yourself some criteria by which to make a choice. While that will be individual to your personal needs and limitations, you should find that scoping out each goal fully now (using the form on the right as a guide) should help you to decide which to focus on. By undertaking this scoping activity you’ll be able to make your decision based on a fair comparison of what you want to achieve, how much effort it will require, how long it will take to achieve, and to what end. 

You may be setting a number of short-term goals that feed into a longer-term one. If that’s the case, make sure your priority setting takes that into account. Will your goals need to build incrementally? If so, you’ll need to consider sequencing or ordering these goals in order to meet your long-term goal or overall ambition.

Set a deadline

There’s no point setting yourself a goal and then leaving it up in the air as to when you’ll achieve it. Be sensible in your estimation of how long it will take you to achieve it, but definitely set yourself a deadline. Then all you need to do is stick to your plan.

Sticking to your goals 

We touched on a number of suggestions in last month’s CPD article to help you stick to your goals – such as using planning apps or asking someone to check in with you, whether that’s a mentor, friend, colleague or line manager.

The important thing is to be honest with yourself – you know your own strengths and weakness and what’s likely to derail you. Put some measures in place that will work for you. 

The CPD activity provides a link to another template form within the ePortfolio that should support you to do this. 

You’ll notice in the form we’ve provided, that there’s a box to set a review date. Make sure to include a check-in point, or even more than one if appropriate. Use this time to review your progress.  And finally – whatever your CPD goals are, when you achieve them know that your patients, service, team will benefit, but also do make sure that you take time to reward yourself as well. We talked in the last article about creating time to breathe and reconnect with yourself in order to get in the right headspace to undertake CPD. This time its about giving yourself a pat on the back at the end. It’s a great way to reinforce its value and turn CPD into a habit. 

SMART goals: quick reminder

Just as you use these with your patients, now’s the time to turn them on yourself.

When setting yourself goals make them: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realisitic
  • Timebound

CPD activity

You’ll see that for the CPD activity this month, we’ve included a form [Planning my learning] to help guide your planning. This template is available online via the CSP’s ePortfolio – you will find it in the CPD Resources section but if you’d rather use pen and paper or write directly onto the form here that’s great – just remember to file your copy safely.

If you know you are going to have trouble sticking to your goals, then consider carrying out a SWOT analysis on yourself, and come up with a plan to help you stay on track.

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