Getting started in CPD

Continuing professional development is now a regulatory requirement for physios, but how do you do it well?

In the first of a new frontline series, Sally Priestley finds out With comprehensive changes sweeping through the UK healthcare system and regulatory requirements being strengthened, it has never been more important for physiotherapists to embrace continuing professional development. Starting with this ‘How to’ feature, Frontline will be playing an increasingly supportive role in members’ CPD. We will offer advice and encouragement to help keep CPD up to speed and ensure all members know what’s expected of them. Our CPD-based features will be accompanied by reflective practice questions, guided by the CSP’s practice and development team and supported by member access to the CSP ePortfolio. These will highlight the message that CPD opportunities lie in all areas of physiotherapy practice.

To get the ball rolling, here is a reminder of the essentials:

  • CPD is based on quality, accountability and effective practice.
  • Members need  to show they are keeping up to date with new knowledge, techniques and evidence.

The CSP takes an inclusive approach to CPD, recognising that qualified physiotherapists (in all sectors and settings), students and support workers all need to engage in learning relevant to their role, career stage and development plans. It is increasingly important that  members record their learning and how they apply this in their practice. This is necessary to meet regulatory requirements and improve career opportunities. It also makes the case for members’ contribution to service design, delivery and leadership. The CSP does not prescribe a set amount of CPD. Members need to undertake CPD that meets their individual needs and be able to  demonstrate the value of their learning activity for doing this, including how  they engage in appraisal schemes and  business planning. Effective CDP involves: reflecting on and recording what you have learnt from your CPD activities; evaluating what effect that learning has had on your practice, patients, colleagues and service; and reviewing learning needs to plan for further activity.

Key practical points

  • Take a systematic approach plan what you want to pursue in a structured way.
  • Undertake activities appropriate to the learning needs you have identified.
  • Review how you apply your new learning in your practice and identifynew learning needs.
  • Record your learning and achievements.

Support tools

The CSP’s ePortfolio  supports you in meeting all those practical requirements. It provides an online tool to record and help you reflect on your CPD.  

The CSP ePortfolio can be used to:

  • Complete self-assessment  questionnaires and analysis tools
  • Devise action plans for your development
  • Record and evaluate your learning
  • Document your professional  achievements
  • Upload evidence from your own computer
  • Create specific profiles to demonstrate particular requirements, for example those of the Health Professions Council
  • Share records  if you wish  with  peers, tutors and managers. (Individual portfolios, however, remain private)

Recent improvements to the CSP’s ePortfolio include daily back-up of all user data, plus upgrades and increases in storage capacity, access, speed and reliability. Improvements are continuing, taking members’ feedback into account. The CSP is also currently reviewing its CPD guidance papers and will be republishing these early this year.  

Health Professions Council

The HPC’s approach is now well established, with its CPD Standards launched in 2006. Demonstrating fulfilment of these standards is a fundamental part of maintaining registration.

HPC standards say registrants must:

  • Maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities
  • Demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to current or future practice
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user
  • Present a written profile containing  evidence of their CPD upon request

The HPC expects registrants to record activities in a portfolio and enacts an audit programme to ensure registrants are doing this to the required standard. All registrants  whether working full-time, part-time, in permanent posts or as locums  are required to meet the standards, and the onus is on individuals to decide what CPD activities suit them. Assessors look for a range of activities, and examples of how learning outcomes have been used in practice. No one activity carries a greater weighting than another. If chosen for audit, members are asked to submit a CPD profile comprising a summary of practice history for the last two years, a statement of how the CPD standards have been met and evidence to support that statement. Physiotherapists were first called for audit in February 2010 and the process will happen again in February 2012. The CSP is working to ensure that its support and resources are the best they can be to help members meet HPC standards. fl


As we begin a new year, take some time to think about how you’re approaching your CPD:

  • Is your CPD portfolio up to date?
  • Are you getting the most out of learning opportunities?
  • Does your planned CPD match how you really want and need to develop?
  • How are you showing the links between your CPD and your ability to meet changing needs? 



There are a number of activities you can do to show you’re learning

  • Work-based learning Clinical audit; work shadowing; job rotation; journal club
  • Professional activity Mentoring; organising or being a member of specialist groups; giving presentations at conferences; being a national assessor
  • Formal/educational Further education; writing articles or papers; attending conferences
  • Self-directed learning Reading journals/articles; reviewing books; using internet or TV learning opportunities

Further information

More information is available on the CSP website:

Sally Priestley

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