CPD awards: How to fund your learning

In the first of two articles on formal learning events, CSP professional adviser Gwyn Owen explains how to apply for an education award.

Formal learning events such as courses and conferences are traditionally the mainstay of continuing professional development at the CSP. In this financial climate, it can be difficult to find funding to finance these opportunities. This article is the first of two in which we will look at learning from such events and the process of applying for an award to fund formal learning. 

Charitable Trust awards

The CSP Charitable Trust (CSPCT) actively supports members’ learning and development by offering a number of education awards. There are three main awards on offer: the Academically Accredited Courses award; the Conference and Presentation award; and the Education and Development Placements award.
These awards are open to all CSP members and the call for applications opens twice each year – in January and June. The awards are managed on behalf of the CSPCT by the Education Awards Panel (EAP). The panel is made up of nine CSP members and is currently chaired by consultant physiotherapist Chris Mercer.  

Applying for a grant

Submitting an application might seem daunting but it is a straightforward process. Feedback from members confirms that the benefits outweigh the energy it takes – as respiratory team lead Hannah Goddard explains.
Applications for an education award are submitted and processed through the CSP’s Learning Hub. The online application asks for a 500-word justification statement that explains how learning from participating in an accredited course, a conference or overseas placement/project:
  • relates to your current and future practice
  • relates to patient/population and service needs
  • contributes to the development of physiotherapy
  • will be disseminated
  • Applications are anonymised and marked by the EAP against a set of criteria. 

Learning from the application process

The process of submitting an application for an education award is a learning opportunity in itself. The form provides applicants with a space for critical reflection, while the guidance and marking criteria will help you to build and communicate a reasoned argument to back up your case. If your application is successful, you will be required to submit a feedback form to the EAP. The act of setting down your thoughts in this way will help you to reflect on the impact of the award on your development. 

Your next steps

If you have found a learning opportunity that fits the criteria, log into the CSP’s Learning Hub and subscribe to an education award eBite. Use the content to draft your application. The next article will offer guidance on how learning from a formal event can meet the needs of you and your service.  
I have been a member of the Education Awards Panel for the last two years and recently took over as chair. The committee is made up of CSP members from different backgrounds, including people who work in academia, research, management and clinical practice. This diversity gives us a dynamic committee and plenty of interesting discussion. 
We have recently recruited new members to the committee and hope to be joined by a lay member soon. I’m excited to be working with a very experienced new group. 
The bulk of our role is to review and score applications – usually 50 to 60 applications in each round – and then to agree on which will be funded. We also work on developing new awards and opportunities for members. Watch this space for future developments. 
The quality and number of applications we receive is increasing significantly and we look forward to seeing your submissions in the years ahead.
  • Chris Mercer, chair, CSP Charitable Trust Education Awards Panel 
Last year, I played a pivotal role in a joint service development project with David McWilliams, clinical specialist physiotherapist at Birmingham University NHS Trust. The project encouraged staff on the intensive care unit (ICU) at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust to transfer ventilated patients out of bed much earlier than usual. 
The project was challenging, but worked to promote multidisciplinary working and a shift towards a culture of rehabilitation among ICU staff. 
We worked together to prepare a paper that was accepted for presentation at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine conference 2017 in Vienna. 
I applied for a CSPCT Conference and Presentation award to support my visit to Vienna and was absolutely delighted to receive funding. The whole experience was significant as I had little experience of research or of participating in an international conference. I am extremely thankful to the CSPCT for allowing me that opportunity.
  • Hannah Goddard, respiratory team lead, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

How to submit a successful application

  • Check the award specifications to make sure it meets your needs and that you are eligible.
  • Study the application form, guidance notes and criteria used by the EAP to assess applications. These will help you think about the information, evidence and energy you will need to prepare your application.
  • Once you understand the process and expectations, draw up a realistic action plan. You will find an action plan template in your CSP ePortfolio account (log in here). 
  • Use your action plan to create a timeline. Keep it in your diary to remind you what needs to be done and when. 
  • Allow more time than you think you need so that you can attend to any unexpected delays or competing demands on your time – and still meet the deadline. 
  • Use the guidance and evaluation criteria to draft and refine your application. 
  • Ask a critical friend for feedback on your application before submission.
  • Do not exceed the word count, and be sure that you have completed all sections of the form and uploaded the supporting evidence in the right format before clicking ‘submit’.
  • Keep a copy of your application with your plans, notes, feedback and reflections generated through the process in your CPD portfolio. Once you know the outcome, this information will help you critique your practice and evidence your learning from the application process.
Gwen Owen

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