In the third in a series of articles on preparing for the HCPC CPD audit, CSP professional adviser Carley King looks at how we can grasp opportunities to learn from events.
This article forms part of the ongoing continuing professional development (CPD) series on how learning is integral to the development of physiotherapy practice. In the second article of the series, Gwyn Owen looked at learning from experience.
In this article we will explore the wide range of learning opportunities that can arise from taking part in organised events such as conferences, webinars, in-service training, tweet chats, steering groups, committee meetings – or any other event you might be participating in.
There is such a vast range of events available, each one presenting you with a number of opportunities for learning which we will explore here.
The topic of the event is probably why most people attend in the first place – you see a topic that catches your eye, you want to hear more, so you sign up. The content could be clinical, policy, research-based, have roots in education … any number of things.
It doesn’t even need to be an event you attended for work, and might be entirely unrelated to health and social care. For example, it may be a Ted talk that you watched online.
I was lucky enough to attend a TEDX event and took away some valuable lessons in conflict resolution, which weren’t aimed specifically for use in health and social care but the principles apply across the board.
Activity: Reflect on the most recent or inspiring event you attended. You can focus either on the event as a whole or on a particular aspect of it.
Make a note of the following:
- what event was it?
- what drew you to attend that particular event?
- what was the key learning that you took from the event?
- how has this learning impacted on your role as a physiotherapist, therapy support worker or student?
It’s the not just about ‘what is said’ but ‘how it is said’ that can present learning opportunities. You don’t have to be a presenter at an event to take away some key learning points about presentation skills. For example, I attended a conference with two speakers presenting – one who oozed charisma, charm and humour to keep the audience’s attention, while the other exuded expertise and conviction. Very different styles but equally effective. By observing how others present (including tweeting style), you can see where your presentation style might sit – whether you’re presenting at an in-service training event, a conference or joining in a tweet chat.
Activity: Think about the last event you attended where the speaker really engaged and inspired you – what was it about their delivery that made it so engaging? It could be the visual prompts accompanying the presentation, the way they spoke, their style of tweeting, the way they moved across the stage, amongst many other things. You might find it useful to think of a few different presentation styles you have seen in the past and make direct comparisons. Now think about your own style (or, actively seek feedback from others!). Are there any observations from the event that can be assimilated into your performance? The next time you have the opportunity to present (at any level), try experimenting and see if it helps you get your message across more effectively.
Networking is an often underestimated learning opportunity that presents itself at every event. These provide ideal opportunities to find out what’s happening in your peers’ workplaces – are they doing something that could potentially benefit yours too? Do they face similar challenges and how are they trying to overcome them? Events can also provide instant access to some renowned individuals – make the most of being able to tap into their expertise and seek advice.
Activity: You can do this activity – either retrospectively for a previous event, or prospectively if there is one coming up – where you have identified potential networking opportunities.
- Who did you or do you want to speak with?
- What did you learn or think you can learn from them?
- How did this, or do you want this, to impact on your work?
Remember to be ‘human’ with your networking – thinking it through like this can be helpful but shouldn’t detract from the need to be friendly and interested in people you meet, whether you think they have something you need or not. You may be somebody other people are keen to speak to!
Sharing to consolidate
Events provide a rich learning opportunity and it’s easy to lose sight of how much you can learn from them. A great way of consolidating some of this newly-acquired knowledge is to share it with others. Sharing your learning with your colleagues soon afterwards provides you with an ideal opportunity to practise your presentation skills that you’ve just reflected on!
Capturing your learning is important – not only for evidence of CPD but to help you articulate what you have learnt. You can record any of these activities online in the e-portfolio. Just click ‘add new’, ‘reflections’, then ‘learning from a formal event’.
- Connecting with the CSP: CPD tools (You will need to log in as a CSP member first). Connecting with the CSP can offer many different ‘formal’ opportunities (courses, training days or committee meetings) for CPD. Use these tools to help record, track and evidence how your involvement with the CSP supports your CPD.
- Learning from conferences: This article encourages readers to think critically about how your CPD can be enhanced through attending a conference.
- Karen Middleton’s tips on networking: Networking: do what you do best - just keep talking and How to make every contact count
- Thinking about courses: This article will help you to choose a course suitable to your learning needs and practise your critiquing skills.
- Beginners guide to elearning: This article explores formal learning opportunities that are freely available online.
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