To CPD or not to CPD – that is the question…?
By Sue Pash – Lic. DSR and Alison Brown – MICHT
What is CPD?
CPD as it is called or “continuing professional development” to give the full title is an ‘option’ whereby professionals from many walks of life carry out a range of additional learning to maintain and develop their careers. Knowledge expands over time and there may be better ways of doing things since an individual qualified. More information is likely to be available about why certain methods are more effective than others. CPD is designed in order that professionals continue to practice or work within their chosen field professionally and in line with up to date knowledge.
How we as complementary therapists choose to undertake CPD is usually much more flexible than we realise. It seems to be becoming a clever marketing tool to imply that attendance on what appear to be “accredited” CPD courses makes them a more legitimate way of obtaining evidence of CPD. Although, when looked at more closely, often an association suggests that reading a book, or a magazine article and writing a paragraph about it in a portfolio, counts as well as more formal study.
What are CPD Points?
CPD may already have become compulsory with an association/professional body to whom we belong to who may have set a minimum that we have to achieve, often in the format of “CPD points”. These equate to a specified number of “CPD hours.” For example, an association may advise that we require a minimum of 12 CPD points per calendar year, and then quantify this as roughly equivalent to 16 hours study. Evidence for this is usually held in a CPD portfolio, and you may be asked, upon renewal of subscription, to confirm you have achieved the minimum points necessary for the previous year. Associations may also choose a random selection of their members and request that they submit their portfolio for inspection, instead of the administrative problems associated with checking every single one. Should your association/professional body not currently ask you for this, it is in our view of little consequence, as your CPD record can be Self Organised and will reflect in your performance as a therapist at all times.
What to do to earn your CPD points
Self motivated, self directed, individually chosen, self study, attendance and distance learning – all are equally valid when it comes to CPD. If your professional membership body doesn’t incorporate a specific CPD questionnaire into the subscription renewal process, (or, alternatively, you are not a member of an association), then it doesn’t mean we/you don’t need CPD, nor does it make what CPD we choose to do less meaningful.
How does a therapist benefit from CPD points?
For all of us who are complementary/holistic therapists, CPD allows us to add skills for the benefit of our clients, perhaps by learning better ways of doing existing treatments, or by adding a different dimension to what we already do.
So it makes sense to keep yourself up to date with all forms of self improvement that are available to you. That way you will be better informed than others who do not keep updated. This gives you the advantage, placing you in ‘pole position’ versus other therapists who do not bother to refresh their knowledge. We all want to give our paying clients the best attention and “continuing professional development” is available for us all…..
We, (the article writers Alison Brown and Sue Pash) believe that attendance CPD events still have a place, although in our own practices we now reserve these to subjects not generally available online through SNHS.
We organise many of our own CPD events, opening them up to other therapists and students, both to increase our networking, and to keep the costs down. Using these and the School of Natural Health Sciences courses (particularly when the ‘Special Offers’ are on!) ensures we are getting best value for our CPD money whilst we get what we need to support the vision of our practices and business growth and expansion.
We also offer 1-1 mentoring support for several therapies (by attendance) for students wanting additional practice, or support in any way. It can also be for the purposes of ongoing CPD. Certificates of attendance are available
Mentoring support like this can be geared to the individual student’s needs, such as practical support for a “hands on” skill such as Indian Head Massage, Massage and Reflexology, or improving communication skills, confidence building, or tapping into a practicing therapist’s experience for information on setting up in business.
We also know from personal experience how difficult it is to set up and market a new practice so we also offer online/telephone marketing mentoring, particularly useful for those in the UK having too many other commitments, or living too far away to travel for an attendance mentoring session or a workshop.
Students about to qualify, or who are recently qualified, can access support to troubleshoot potential marketing problems – before they invest (or invest further) in printing, website or other marketing overheads. Discussing their ideas in a supportive space and using a practicing therapist’s experience to weed out those that are potentially of limited value, can be a good investment – and it can count to CPD!
How can a student use The School of Natural Health Sciences courses for CPD purposes?
Assuming you have checked your association/professional body’s guidelines about accepted forms of CPD study, (should this be in existence), you may naturally create your own log and simply record the hours you have studied, keep a copy of the questions answered, and the confirmation of your pass email.
A therapist, who perhaps qualified at a college including attendance, may wish to complete an SNHS online course for CPD. Or an SNHS graduate may choose to study another SNHS diploma course for CPD, whether or not they choose to offer the treatment to clients. (SNHS Workshops may also count.)
How it can work? If within the relevant year you haven’t completed the course, your portfolio can reflect the amount of study done to date, evidenced by the log and the answer submission emails.
The study in the following year becomes part of that year’s CPD records in the same way. You can still start an SNHS course at any time, and your efforts count to CPD, even if you don’t do the revision and take the exam within the same year because of other commitments. No travel costs. No childcare costs. Flexible, affordable learning for CPD – and of course as well as the bonus of ongoing CPD, you can still go on to take the diploma! If you are not a member of an association/professional body requiring you to follow specific CPD criteria for membership, then it still pays to have a CPD portfolio. It can be used at interviews with health centres or spas, in networking opportunities to show your professionalism, or for example when applying to rent a room in premises used by other therapists, or even be made available for your clients to see.
Providing therapists are knowledgeable about the CPD guidelines in general, and do not just make assumptions based on some very clever media marketing hype, we can all build a variety of different forms of evidence into a personal CPD portfolio, benefiting our practices, and making the best use of our time – and our money! Not only that, but it keeps within the spirit of what CPD is all about, benefiting the complementary/holistic health care industry as a whole.
Now the Myths & Mysteries have been uncovered we wish you all success and enjoyment with CPD – ing!
Sue Pash & Alison Brown