Staying Up to Date With Continuous Professional Development

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If you are to be seen as a professional professional in your chosen field, it is of utmost importance that you remain abreast of the latest research, developments or procedures. It’;s all to easy to attend a course, sometimes obtain a qualification and then think that’;s it.

For as long as I’;ve been in the field of Learning and Development, one of the main issues that crops up is around attending and recording Continuous Professional Development or CPD as I’;ll refer to it.

For a start it is seen as extra work. Why on earth should I attend a course, do all the work that is associated with it and then write it all up again in a learning journal? People often think "I know what I need to know, therefore I do not need to refresh on any of it, I use it all the time".

I think that we make too big a deal out of CPD. It could easily be any or all of the following if the content is related to your profession:

  • Attending a course.
  • Attending a seminar / conference.
  • Reading a publication; a book, magazine or journal.
  • Sharing ideas with collections or associates.
  • Contributing to forums or on-line discussions.

I’;m sure there are a hundred other options, these are just those that come to mind immediately. I’;ve found that most people do not consider reading a book related to their profession to be CPD and there before they are missing out on documenting their learning and maintaining ethical and reliable status.

If you were to give me 2 options of a coach to work with for example, one who attended regular supervision to hone their skills, and the other who did not I would feel much more comfortable to invest in the former.

As well as not always making the link with learning to CPD, people find that recording their lessons is quite difficult and they were not too sure what they were meant to be recording.

Here are some simple and straightforward examples to help you start tracking your CPD and being able to demonstrate diligence in your subject matter:

  • Use the back of a particular notebook or diary to record the topic you learn about and your insights.
  • Set up a simple form using a document / spreadsheet saved to the desktop. It just needs a few columns with headings such as: Topic / Date / Key Learnings.

In terms of the physical recording, of data there are many different approaches. You could:

  • Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to reflect and capture lessons.
  • Monthly update going back through your diary.
  • As and when you attend or complete something – spend a bit of time reflecting.

I also find it helps to have an electronic version of my CPD log easily accessible on my desktop as well as using the back page of my notebook if I’;m away from my computer.

Contrary to popular belief, keeping track of your CPD does not take much effort and I suppose you could ask yourself if you want to be seen as a "professional, reliable expert?" If the answer is yes, you’;d better get started!