Consultation represents the next step on the journey towards achieving a more effective system of CPD
Some dental professionals feel that CPD is little more than a tick-box exercise,” says Rebecca Cooper, the General Dental Council’s Head of Policy and Research. Last month, the GDC published a consultation document inviting ideas, comments, and views on the short and long-term future of professional learning and development in dentistry.
It follows the GDC’s launch last year of ‘Enhanced CPD’, its new model of continuing professional development. Some of the changes ECPD brought included the introduction of a personal development plan (PDP) to help record CPD activity and aid further development; a change in the number of CPD hours required (100 hours for dentists, 75 hours for hygienists, therapists, clinical technicians and orthodontic therapists and 50 hours for nurses and technicians); and doing away with the need to submit non-verifiable CPD.
“While the Enhanced CPD scheme made some good progress towards increasing professional ownership of CPD and placing greater emphasis on reflection and planning,” adds Rebecca, “we know a more supportive model of learning can be achieved to provide dental professionals with the information and tools they need to meet and maintain high professional standards and quality patient care.
“Our proposals look at how we might move to a system that is flexible and responsive for the full range of dental professionals and where professionals can increasingly take responsibility for their own development, without the need for heavy-handed enforcement. This discussion document represents a significant milestone in achieving this goal and we really want to hear from as many people as possible about where lifelong learning should go from here.”
The discussion document is presented in three parts: a future model for lifelong-learning which seeks views on a portfolio model and the merits of continuing with set CPD hour requirements; CPD practices, and how professionals can be encouraged to take up more high-value activities, such as peer learning and reflection; and informing CPD choices, which asks about the insights and intelligence dental professionals refer to when selecting learning activities and how these can be improved and promoted.
The publication represents the next step on the GDC’s journey towards achieving a more effective system of CPD. That journey began with commitments made in the regulator’s 2017 publication Shifting the Balance and the introduction of the Enhanced CPD scheme last year. Since then, this journey has continued with the gathering of further information and evidence through stakeholder feedback, a systematic literature review on CPD and, most recently, through workshops with professional associations, educators and other regulators which took place earlier this year.
After building a robust base of evidence, the GDC says it wants explore ideas for developing the CPD scheme with dental professionals and stakeholders and that it is “opening a conversation” about what meaningful CPD is, how it can be achieved, and what the obstacles might be that prevent dental professionals from accessing and undertaking it.
The literature review synthesised relevant articles and outlined the approach other professionals are taking. It provided the GDC with evidence, which can support its development of a more qualitative approach to the delivery and monitoring of CPD for the dental workforce. The aim was to inform and strengthen GDC policy development for dental CPD that would promote registrants’ sense of ownership and pride in their continuing educational achievements and in turn improve engagement between the regulator and the dental workforce.
It concluded that aspects of qualitative-based models which could form part of an outcomes-focused model for dental UK professionals include: emphasis on reflection and reflective practice, active learning, portfolios, peer (and mentor) interaction and feedback; development of online, user-friendly tools, enabling registration of required evidence; a well-designed change and implementation process; reinforcement of close engagement of registrants with regulators through easily accessible communication channels; quality-assurance mechanisms embedded in the model, valuable for both regulators and registrants.
“If the aspiration is to create motivation across all registrants to actively pursue meaningful, relevant CPD activities,” said the review, “then of course the approach to CPD should promote the concept of a responsible professional, who takes pride in keeping up to date and enhancing their clinical and professional skills and sharing their experience with others.”