Opinion Piece: The History of CPD in Pharmacy
Continuing Education (CE) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD), is there a difference and does it matter? I have been involved in many discussions on both CE and CPD from the late 1990’s. As the profession debated the need to keep knowledge and skills up to date, it became important to ensure learning was relevant to the area of practice for a pharmacist. The term “self-directed learning” became the buzz phrase along with the need to reflect and evaluate any teaching.
The Shift to CPD in Northern Ireland
From 2013, it has been considered important that all pharmacists in Northern Ireland undertake CPD activities relevant to the safe and effective pharmacy practice and their scope of practice. Failure to do so means not being able to stay on the pharmaceutical register and therefore not being able to practice as a pharmacist.
CE vs. CPD: Understanding the Difference
So, what’s the difference? CE is something many pharmacists engage in from the day they qualify, undertaking training and education, attending courses, reading literature and keeping themselves up to date. CPD, meanwhile, is a more formative and proactive process that helps professionals like pharmacists to identify areas for improvement and therefore the quality of care they provide to patients and the public.
In short, CPD refers to “the process of developing and enhancing one’s skill set to better serve within a position, while CE focuses on education and remaining current within a position”.
The Evolution of CPD in Pharmacy
As the focus over the last 15-20 years has moved on to the need to develop as professionals, CPD has become a tool for pharmacists to reflect on their practice, anticipate and respond to their patients’ changing needs and their own professional requirements. This has enabled pharmacists to enter new roles, take on new responsibilities and see new services developed, providing better patient outcomes and better professional satisfaction.
The Journey to Making CPD Compulsory
The journey from ensuring pharmacists fulfilled specific CE criteria to making CPD compulsory has been a long one. Over the years, there was much discussion on what form the CPD process should take. There are many different models, but what is the right one? Countries and professions have taken different routes, some stating the number of hours of training to be undertaken, others not being proscriptive on the hours but ensuring the CPD cycle has been followed after identifying learning needs. In contrast, others have a mixture of both.
The Four-Stage CPD Cycle
The cycle I have been using and one we use as pharmacists in Northern Ireland is a simple four-stage cycle including; reflection, planning, action and evaluation. This is then recorded and used as evidence for our registration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland each year.
The cycles used involve a simple reflection on what I want to learn and why I want to learn it. Leading then to a planning phase of what I plan to do to meet my learning needs and when I hope to complete my activity(s). When I have completed my learning, I note what I have learned (concerning my learning needs) and then carry out an evaluation to see if I have learned what I needed to know. The very last step is to reflect on how I have or will apply my new learning or how it has changed my practice.
By carrying out this simple reflective process, it helps us all to progress our learning in a planned way. It keeps our understanding relevant to our practice while at the same time providing a framework to advance in new directions. At first, many pharmacists were hesitant about embracing this new way of keeping up to date, but now it is very much seen as the foundation on which everything else is built, including being essential for our yearly registration as pharmacists.
Raymond is a trustee, fellow, and patron of the CPA. He has served as President of this organization. While President he helped restructure the organisation into what it is today. He is a community pharmacist for over 40 years and has supported the development of the profession to become more patient-facing, using a pharmacist’s clinical skills for the benefit of patients. He is a strong advocate of good regulation and governance which is essential for the profession to reach its full potential across the commonwealth.
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