Face-to-face training will return
But increasing and improving access to online CPD is the way forward
Prior to lockdown, NES Dental CPD had developed and published its CPD programme through until the end of the calendar year. CPD Advisers and Assistant Deans had proposed a wide variety of CPD events, which had been approved and speaker contracts were being issued. Once these were all returned, the intention had been to publish the programme, giving much greater advance notice of what was going to run, to allow dentists and DCPs to better plan their CPD for the rest of 2020.
This was agreed due to feedback and internal discussion that publishing, as we would normally have done, only what was going to run over the next three to four months wasn’t sufficient, especially in light of recent changes in GDC requirements for enhanced continuing professional development, with its increased focus on reflection and future planning of CPD needs.
It was therefore very frustrating to have to cancel and postpone all planned face-to-face activity from April to the end of July, and more recently, to the end of September and potentially beyond this. The focus of the CPD team switched to what we could provide online and a rapid move to webinars ensued. Fortunately, we had some experience of webinars, with recent events earlier this year on Trauma and Orthodontics and have run several online events each year over the last two to three years. In addition, we have been developing educational content, to use in a blended way, with online delivery in advance of face to face, hands-on events.
Supporting the Clinical Effectiveness workstream with the delivery of an initial two Infection Control webinars, it soon became obvious that there was a significant interest and demand for this type of online CPD. Advertising the first two webinars, with twenty places on each, we had nearly 2,000 applications to attend!
Further events were organised, gradually increasing places, initially to 150, then later to 500. We thought 500 places might suffice but with more than 1,000 responding to adverts for some future events, we moved to an alternative webinar format, that gave us an increased capacity of 2,000 attendees.
The CPD and Infection Control Advisers and our presenters quickly gained in confidence and became accustomed to speaking to their webcams, rather than a physical audience, and with ever increasing numbers at the far end. The IT support staff we have on every webinar have helped the small number of attendees with audio or connection problems, most of which can be addressed within a minute or two.
In addition to the live webinars, we ran a series of recorded webinars on medical emergencies and basic life support, each of which ran five or six times, and which have had excellent feedback. Our thanks to the presenter of these, who recorded them in his own home, and with support from his family, including his son, who acted as a mannikin for some demonstrations!
We have also published some recordings of the Infection Control webinars, which are available on TURAS Learn and we hope to develop a bank of recordings which previous attendees may wish to watch again, or may be of interest to those who were unable to attend at the time when they were first run. Looking back over the last four months, we have successfully delivered more than 70 webinars, with more than 23,000 attendees and certified 30,000-plus hours of CPD.
As we look forward to the rest of the 2020/21 financial year, it seems unlikely that we will be able to provide much, if any face-to-face training. We are therefore working on the programme for September onwards, on a similar basis to what we’ve done from April until July. However, we are also looking to run some smaller, more interactive online training, such as the series we ran in June, with around 50 attendees, who were able to put their questions directly to the speaker.
We are also investigating remote hands-on training, where materials will be sent out in advance, allowing participants to do practical training at a distance. The use of webcams and cameras on phones and tablets, will allow the presenter to see what the attendees have done from afar. We successfully used this recently to invigilate remotely the Test of Knowledge assessment for our Induction to the NHS training programme that ran in June, totally online with 24 attendees.
Having come so far in such a short time and at such a rapid pace, it seems that online training is here to stay, at least as part of what NES offers going forward. The larger, more lecture-based events, can certainly be delivered using the online platforms we have been using. There is clearly a need for hands-on training within dentistry and it will be interesting to see and evaluate how successful this can be delivered remotely.
The intention is definitely not to move away completely from face-to-face training and there are clearly benefits to small group teaching and of meeting peers and the discussions that take place before, during and after these events, including at the coffee breaks and lunchtimes. But the ability to increase and improve ease of access to our live CPD events, reduce unnecessary travel time, and enable offline access at a more convenient time for some, in the evenings or at the weekend are clearly beneficial and can certainly assist with work/life balance going forward.
About the author
Tony Anderson is Associate Postgraduate Dental Dean (CPD) https://learn.nes.nhs.scot/