What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? 

Continuing professional development is “the holistic commitment of professionals towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout their careers,” states the CPD Certification Service. 

CPD is an activity that contributes to a worker’s learning and development. It can be anything from work-based learning, a professional activity, formal education or self-directed learning, says the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). There are a whole host of CPD courses, seminars and workshops for all sectors on the CPD Certification Service website. As long as the activity lets the individual apply what they’ve learnt through practical application or reflection in their career, it can be deemed CPD. 

CPD in Healthcare  

Although useful in various professions, CPD is especially important in the healthcare sector as it has important implications for the public. In the care industry, the purpose of CPD is to enhance the quality of care that patients and clients receive. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) refers to CPD as “the mechanism through which high quality patient and client care is identified, maintained and developed,” which underlines its importance. 

The BDA states that “recipients of care have the right to access health and social care practitioners who possess up-to-date knowledge, skills and abilities.” Employers, therefore, must commit to providing staff with the resources needed to deliver this level of care. This is where CPD comes in. Not only does it ensure that healthcare staff are practising safely and effectively, it allows them to maintain and develop existing services for clients and patients as well as meet the demands for new and improved ones.  

Practitioners have to cope with these expectations whilst facing the increasing demand for more health and care professionals with a wider range of skills. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the issues the National Health Service (NHS) is having with staff shortages; there are currently one in 11 NHS England posts unfilled. CPD is therefore more crucial than ever in health and care, and those who actively choose to expand their skill-sets will be in favourable positions professionally. 

In the healthcare sector, qualified practitioners must meet their regulatory bodies’ CPD requirements, and those working in the NHS must meet the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) requirements by undertaking CPD. The BDA states that six days a year is the minimum time employers must grant to facilitate CPD.  

The Benefits of CPD 

CPD is good news for everyone; there are numerous benefits of continuing professional development. As well as enabling learning to become proactive, it allows individuals to continually up-skill, regardless of their age, job or level of knowledge. In addition, the activity stops practical and academic qualifications from becoming outdated, allows individuals to identify any knowledge gaps, and gives professionals the opportunity to progress to a new specialism.  

On an individual level, not only does taking part in CPD increase overall competency, it shows a clear commitment to self-development and professionalism. The activity can help to improve your confidence and it can also help individuals prepare for the inevitable changes and improvements that are made in the healthcare sector. 

Inside an organisation like the NHS, CPD can help promote a healthy learning environment, which can lead to a more prepared and hopefully fulfilled workforce. The aim of CPD in healthcare is to ensure that both the quality of patient care and the depth of healthcare professionals’ knowledge grows over time. 

Are you willing to embrace the principle of lifelong learning? Continuing professional development can help support a career that is both fulfilling and rewarding.

If you’re looking to work in the health and care sector, contact UKCBC today. Our Health and Social Care (Management) HND contains a module specifically on personal and professional development in health and social care. Get in touch for more information. 

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