New year (re)solution: everyday life and CPD

CSP professional adviser Nina Paterson says our everyday lives can be a rich source of material for continuing professional development.

Welcome to the second continuing professional development (CPD) article for 2017. In the last article, New Year: New plans, we looked at coaching and mentoring  Of course, everyone doesn’t have ready access to coaching schemes or mentors, and this style of learning may not suit your learning needs – a course might be just what you’re looking for, or a secondment. It may not be your preferred style either, although that’s not always a bad thing: sometimes it’s worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.  
In this instalment of the new year series we’re going to look at a different approach to learning that will be available for all CSP members. 
Often we’re looking for an external source to help us develop (the course, the mentor and so on). While these are important (that’s why we encourage you to think about them month after month!) and have their place, a key source of learning is our job. Sometimes we’re so busy hurtling through the tasks, the waiting lists, caseloads, meetings … that we don’t stop to pause and remember that our biggest source of development is the one that we’re immersed in – our everyday lives.  

Make time

For me, the new year started as the old one ended – at full throttle. Just before Christmas, we completed the build for the CSP’s new ePortfolio. Apart from the checking and rechecking that everything looked and worked properly, we had to convince those of you with a PebblePad account to pack up your stuff and move it into the new CSP ePortfolio. Alongside this, I’ve been working with colleagues to prepare the content, help and guidance for it. And then we’ve been doing the same to ensure our other new product – the CSP Learning Hub – is ready for its launch (this will house lots of different learning activities and we hope you’ll love it), and, again, this project is demanding. And, to top it off, the other big part of my job involves supporting universities delivering physiotherapy education. So I’ve been up and down the country visiting teams and reviewing their programmes so that the new graduates are the best they can be. 
My first pause for breath came yesterday on the way home from visiting the team at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. After my colleague and fellow traveller had disembarked, heading home through the snow, I finished checking my emails. Then, at 10pm, I finally looked out of the train window and stopped working. 
My job, which I love, may be very different from yours but I know you’ll face similar pressures. And it’s these things that connect us all – whether we work in a clinical, education, management field or in a research setting. Whatever we do, work is busy, constant and pressured.
‘I don’t have time’ is the phrase I hear the most when talking about continuing professional development (CPD), and I’m just as guilty of using it. I had another hour or so on my train journey before I reached London, and I was sorely tempted to watch a film on Netflix, but I wasn’t going to get another space like this so out came the iPad, and along with it tumbled my reflections and plans …  

Don’t just keep it in your head

Before my colleague disembarked, we’d been discussing how much we’d gained from the team we’d just met. For me, having that conversation cemented my learning in my head. But we both noted that where we fall down is taking time to record it. A point my colleague made stayed with me: ‘When you do a job like ours, it is easy to advise others what to do and not do it yourself.’ My colleague sent me a follow up text this morning to tell me that she was going to log in to the new ePortfolio and use one of the templates. 

Make it a habit

You’ll know this from experience with your patients or clients – there isn’t a magic wand. Start small, build it up, keep going, and find a reward system that works for you. Think about the approaches you use with patients when you want them to continue their exercise regime when you’re not there – could any of them work on you? 
For me, this series is possibly one of the most creatively enjoyable elements of my role. I started life as a maths teacher so I never expected to have a career where I would write and actually enjoy it. Writing an article keeps me brief and provides a structure that isn’t too constraining. I’ve realised that this style suits me. So my promise to myself is that I’m going to make the most of the CSP’s ePortfolio myself this year, especially the journal function
The new ePortfolio makes it easy to connect with others and share learning so to give me an incentive to stay on track, I’ll make you a promise that I’ll make at least one of my journals available. You don’t have to read it, but if you see I’m not role-modelling, then feel free to post on my wall and give me a nudge!  fl
  • what has worked, what hasn’t?
  • how do I feel about what I’ve achieved?
  • what could have gone better?
  • is there anything that needs urgently addressing?
  • how am I going to address the things that didn’t go well?
  • what’s in my control? What do I need to do differently?
  • how do I address my weaknesses or gaps? 
  • do I need some help to do this or can I problem solve it by myself?
  • am I on top of things? What do I need to do next?
  • what’s my plan? Is there anything from the last two months that will help me with the next set of challenges?
Nina Paterson professional adviser CSP

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