CSP education adviser Nina Paterson, who helped to update the CSP’s ePortfolio, gives some personal reflections on the year ahead.
Welcome to the onset of another year. Rather than starting a series, as in the past, by focusing on new beginnings and new year’s resolutions I’m going to look backwards to share lessons I learned in my professional life last year.
When I went into my annual appraisal at the CSP in December, I felt more reflective than I usually would. As one of the two officers responsible for education and continuing professional development (CPD) at the CSP, I have been leading the CSP’s eLearning strategy since 2015. I was responsible last year for bringing you the updated ePortfolio and CSP learning hub. So, no surprise that this formed a significant part of my conversation with my line manager as we sat down to review achievements.
Up until my appraisal, the e-learning aspect of my role had been relentless. Keeping a project to time, in budget, and at the quality required took continuous ‘plate-spinning’ – determination, energy and enthusiasm. The launches of both systems and encouraging uptake through the year required more of the same. When managing a project – any project – you have to make continuous course changes, weighing up risk and measuring the impact of each of the micro-decisions in the moment. My appraisal gave me the chance to slow down, step back and review developments from a distance.
A couple of things struck me, which I will outline shortly. None was a revelation, but they both reminded me about what my team does to support you as a member gearing up for another year of your professional lives, and, perhaps, preparing yourself for this year’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) audit. When we launched the ePortfolio, our phones rang non-stop. This slowed as the year went by but we did receive a large number of queries. Putting aside the technical queries, I was heartened by how many queries focused on CPD, rather than the ePortfolio system. Whether it was calls from members wanting to make sure that the resources they had saved – their reflections or action plans, for example, were safe – or asking if the original ‘really useful template’ was still be available.
Healthcare issues in the new year had an interesting start – with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and prime minister Theresa May acknowledging the ‘NHS winter crisis’, and apologising for the cancellation of non-urgent surgeries. These might well bring tangible pressures to your working life. In the middle of this, you’re expected to demonstrate your CPD. The conversations I had with members during the project reminded me that as a profession, in the middle of this, you take your CPD responsibilities seriously. For the year ahead, the challenge is the same – finding the time and head space to do it all again!
Here at the CSP headquarters, we are committed to supporting you. The next issue of Frontline will feature an article to the HCPC CPD audit process, but you’ve already done the hard work for that over the past two years – attending courses, undertaking mandatory training, shadowing others, being mentored, mentoring others, taking students, and developing staff.
We’ll also be developing eBites, delivering webinars, popping up in Tweetchats and coming out to your workplaces/universities to support you.
One size doesn’t fit all
When the previous ePortfolio was set up, analytics weren’t on anyone’s horizon. We knew how much storage you used but that was about it. The project gave me the opportunity to formally stop and audit/evaluate what CSP delivered. It was interesting to discover which tools you valued, and what, and didn’t, work for you online.
With 57,000 members, we were never going to find a perfect system but is clear is that you all capture your learning differently. Our analytics this time give us far more detail – what amazes me is how popular the ‘unstructured’ tools/templates are. You aren’t looking for one-size, just a way that works well for you.
While I spent many months concentrating on the ePortfolio’s development, my appraisal gave me the chance to remind myself that my role is about supporting you develop professionally.
So, if we meet while I’m out and about, and you’re not using ePortfolio, you don’t have to avoid my gaze. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fantastic system: simple, easy to navigate, offers great templates and a journal function that will let you be as unstructured as you want.
Remember, though, it is a means to an end. It makes no difference what tool you use, what matters is that you do it. Take time to reflect on your practice, to learn, to grow, improve. Your patients aren’t really interested in how you record your development, just that you’re committed to developing. And from what I’ve seen last year, you’ve got that covered!
So as we head into 2018, I encourage you to keep doing what you’ve always done – be clear about how you want to develop professionally, look for ways to do it, and record your learning in a manner that works for you. And in the midst of everything going on around you, make sure to protect regular time in your diaries to stop, step back and review your progress as you go.
We ended last year with the penultimate article in the careers series of continuing professional development (CPD) articles
See An article on the final topic – how to support associate CSP members – will appear in a two-part series later this year.
Nina Paterson CSP education adviser
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