We all know what Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then, importantly, apply.
We may all automatically think of attending training as being CPD, and attending training is one method of CPD.
CPD shouldn’t however be about how much time you have spent on numerous training courses or how many CPD ‘boxes you tick’. As part of our working life we are constantly learning and meeting new challenges and opportunities and CPD should be about taking useful experiences and assessing the practical benefits of what you have learned from those experiences.
So in our busy working lives, what activities should we be counting towards our CPD?
Typical work activities that count towards CPD are work shadowing colleagues, peer observation and mentoring new colleagues. By mentoring new colleagues, we are adding to our leadership and management skills as well as enhancing the spirit of the team.
Work shadowing is an effective method of CPD, which can occur naturally, and assists your organisation where there may be concerns or risks around ‘key person dependency’ in niche roles. It is also an opportunity to have greater understanding of how role within the organisation contributes to our colleagues and peers being able to achieve their role within the organisation.
We all regularly attend team meetings but we often underestimate how input and discussion at those team meetings is often assisting ourselves and our colleagues in our CPD.
Attendance at Working Groups, Workshops/Seminars and Events is an excellent way of keeping up to date with current thinking and changes within your industry. It is also an excellent way of networking with your peers and sharing experiences, which in itself can aid learning.
E-learning activities are often made available as an accessible method of training and keeping updated, which can also contribute to your CPD.
Internet research and reading journals/book articles/relevant newsletters to your role/sector or organisation is an effective way of keeping up to date with current thinking and methods.
So what should we be recording and when is our record of CPD useful to us?
You should try to get into the habit of recording your CPD activity as soon as it has taken place – whilst it is fresh in your mind. A documented record of your CPD should include the Date of the Activity, the Duration, what Type of Activity it was, What did you learn from the activity and equally as important, reflect and record What will you do with the learning?
A clear record of CPD is invaluable when reflecting on your performance as part of your Appraisal, to refer to as part of your Personal Development and Performance Review as well as when applying for promotion or new posts. It is easy to undervalue your own learning and growth. An up to date CPD record allows you to acknowledge your learning experiences as part of your professional life.
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