Isabella Oyelade, CSP learning and development officer, looks at how formal learning events can fulfil your continuing CPD needs.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) standards expects registrants to take part in a variety of formal and informal learning activities. Formal learning events include conferences, in-service training, seminars, committee meetings, academically-accredited programmes and webinars.
Hannah Goddard’s account of attending an international conference shows how learning from formal events can benefit you and the people you work with. When it comes to deciding whether a course, a conference, or another type of formal event is the best kind of continuing professional development to choose – it will depend on your own needs.
Learning needs and outcomes
Before you look for a formal learning opportunity, it’s important to identify your learning and development needs as it will make it easier to search, cull and select what’s right for you. How do you do that?
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is my current practice like?
- Who will benefit from my learning?
- What behaviours/knowledge/skills do I want to develop and why?
The answers to the last prompt will help you to list your learning outcomes – statements that describe the behaviours, knowledge and skills you will have gained at the end of an event. A list of learning outcomes will help you find the right event but more importantly will help you evaluate and evidence the impact of what you have learnt.
Get the most from an event
Attending a formal event is a great time to learn and replenish, giving you head space away from your busy workplace. You can still get all the benefits of a formal event held at your own workplace. I’ve attended a number of formal events within the office and outside. When I’m at a course based at work, I can forget I’m still in the office!
Networking is another major benefit of formal events. Each one you attend is an opportunity to establish relationships with colleagues, share ideas and learn from others. It may be daunting, initially, but the value is enormous.
To make sure I get as much out of these events as possible, I always carry something to write my thoughts on – paper and pen, a tablet or even a recording device. If you have access to the internet you could use the journal section ePortfolio too. The journal function is extremely popular members because it allows you to note down reflections on the go. Make notes throughout the event, including your key learning points, as you’ll need these later on.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I doing to learn/develop?
- What behaviours/knowledge/skills am I learning/developing?
- What is the learning/development process like?
Put the learning into practice
After the event, take some time to complete your reflections. Collate your notes, assess what you have learned and write out how it will support the development of your practice. Start to plan how you will apply it in practice.
For a detailed plan, you could use the action plan template in the ePortfolio to encourage you to reflect on actions and meet a specific aim.
Set a review date and come back to assess the impact on your practice and the evidence to support this. Articulating the link between learning outcomes and practice is a key part of your professional development. Part four of the CPD in Practice provides further guidance on how to do that.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What behaviours/knowledge/skills did I actually learn?
- How effective was the learning process?
- Have I achieved the learning outcomes?
- How does my learning support the development of my practice?
On review, document the changes in your practice. If you identify further learning needs write these down and start to plan how to meet them.
Begin to look at other learning opportunities and their learning outcomes that will fulfil your needs. Remember, this is part of your life-long CPD journey.
For further opportunities, you may like to consider the profession’s flagship event, Physiotherapy UK. This year it’s at Birmingham ICC on 19 - 20 October. The conference includes the latest in research and clinical practice, with plenty of opportunities to learn about innovations in physiotherapy products and services. The programme offers two days of CPD across four themes; Musculoskeletal, primary care and workforce transformation, Rehab Matters and CSP improvement and transformation.
For guidance on how to critique and evaluate the quality of formal courses, use the CPD in Practice 01 activity sheet. You will find the CPD in Practice eBite in the career tool section of the CSP Learning Hub.
Within the same eBite you will find CPD in Practice 03 activity sheet. Work through this to help you use learning outcomes to plan, evaluate and evidence the impact of your learning activities.
Why not use this article to identify your learning needs, focus your search and select the right formal opportunities to meet those needs?
If you are looking for funding to attend a formal learning event, check out part one of this article on applying for a CSP Charitable Trust Education award.
- ‘Learning from formal learning’ CPD template: You may have noticed that the prompts from this template were used to structure this article! Once you have attended a formal event, use this to record your learning. You can find this CPD template and others in the CSP ePortfolio.
- Thinking about courses: This article looks at the processes of critiquing formal learning opportunities.
- The conference season: This article encourages you to think critically about how your CPD can be enhanced by attending a conference.
- Learning from events: HCPC CPD audit: This article encourages you to reflect on the most recent or inspiring event you attended, to focus on the event as a whole or on a particular aspect of it.
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