Julie Blackburn urges the newly qualified to make the most of professional networks and reveals the benefits of joining.
My role is professional advisor for the North West at the CSP and the link person between the CSP and all the professional networks. I am vice-chair of the Trauma and Orthopaedic Professional Network (ATOCP), and I have been involved in this network for five years. Personally, this has provided me with many great benefits, including regular continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities, peer support and involvement in national and regional activities. But what exactly is a professional network?
A Professional Network (PN) is defined and recognised by the CSP as a group of experts in an area of practice for specific patient populations. These networks are self-governing bodies that are legally separate entities to the CSP.
The PNs have developed over the years for the benefit of their members and networks often promote education, clinical skills, research, publications, study days and membership support. Each network will run slightly differently, but will welcome student members, overseas members and support workers into their membership.
The benefits of professional networks to recent graduates are that you can find useful webinars, courses and events to help with professional development. This is a truly great way of networking and gaining peer support and mentorship, as a student and as a new graduate. It can also offer opportunities to be part of network committees, conferences and regional events.
The CSP works closely with the PNs, and they influence CSP decision-making as a result. The PNs bring current and expert clinical knowledge to many areas of the organisation. For instance, the CSP actively seeks PN expertise to inform its work, including policy development, and draws on PN expertise to influence government policy, the national evidence base and other consultations, where this can support patient care.
There are currently around 30 CSP professional networks and you can send enquiries to them direct via their contact details on their websites.
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