How to plan your CPD for success
As prescribed by the Pharmacy Board of Australia, every pharmacist is required to have a CPD plan. A CPD plan enables pharmacists to ‘plan’ their intended and completed CPD activities from 1 October to 30 September.
In addition to the CPD activity, pharmacists are also required to include in their log:
- the amount of time taken to complete the activity (it may be beneficial to use a time logger)
- the source of the provider (e.g. journal name)
- the type of activity (e.g. seminar, practical vaccination training)
- topics covered during the activity
- which CPD group is it related to and how many you are claiming for this activity
- how this activity has impacted your practice and how it can help your patients now, or in the future
Types of learning
Prior to learning new topics, it is important for a person to understand what type of learning style they respond to. There are three types of learning styles: visual learning, auditory learning and kinesthetic learning.
As inferred by the name, visual learning is seeing something. An activity that would benefit visual learning is attending lectures or watching online lectures, reading articles or writing assignments. A visual learner connects with the information and will therefore have a stronger recollection of memories from content that contains a high number of pictures or diagrams. Visual learners represent the largest portion of the ‘learning population’, accounting for around 65%.
An auditory style of learning is defined as learning through hearing and listening. Auditory learners account for around 30% of the general population. CPD activities that may benefit auditory learners are listening to a podcast, online lectures, oral presentations or group discussions.
Lastly, kinesthetic learners learn by touching or participating in an event. Activities that may benefit kinesthetic learners include participating in a course, completing a practical experiment or role-playing exercises. Approximately 5% of people are kinesthetic learners.
Most people are likely aware of which learning style(s) they are. However, in some cases, it may be difficult to learn content if a person is unable to learn something through their preferred learning style. For example, if a person is a kinesthetic learner, they may find it challenging to learn the mechanism of action of novel antipsychotics if they are unable to access a laboratory to touch or participate in the event.
Framework and incorporation
Pharmacists are required to complete a learning plan that complies with the Board’s requirements. It is often questioned whether or not it is beneficial to premeditate CPD activities throughout the year or to devise a ‘partial’ plan to allow for seasonal activities relating to an individual’s field.
Presumably, most pharmacists did not include CPD-related activities regarding the Coronavirus in their CPD plan in October 2019. However, since October, this virus has become a global epidemic. Given the number of questions raised by patients in community pharmacies, the Coronavirus presents an opportunity for pharmacists to focus on specific CPD-related activities.
Australia’s recent bushfires present another seasonal CPD activity. To illustrate, rural areas are unfortunately prone to seasonal bushfires. Although residents are generally prepared for this, bushfire season provides pharmacists with the opportunity to revise CPD training relating to asthma, suitable times to use face masks, as well as revisiting information regarding the increased risk of chest infections as a result of the smoke.
Depending on a person’s field of work, certain CPD training, such as the completion of a first aid certificate or re-education on state-specific vaccination protocols might need to be completed. Notably, these CPD events can be tailored to a specific learning style, if required.
Observing and reflecting on CPD plans allows pharmacists to identify knowledge gaps and re-occurring topics that may require greater focus in the following year.
Outcomes and reflection of the plan
As the first of October arrives, pharmacists start to plan their CPD calendar. However, the process does not stop there. Once the activity has been completed, pharmacists are then required to reflect on the activity. Although a board requirement, pharmacists often consider CPD reflection to be unnecessary. However, CPD reflection is really looking at the knowledge we have learnt in a different light and ‘reflecting’ on this to determine whether a novel, ‘narrow’ topic can be applied to a greater patient community. Observing and reflecting on CPD plans allows pharmacists to identify knowledge gaps and re-occurring topics that may require greater focus in the following year. This process is important, as at the end of the day, CPD is all about improving our own information so that we can help the customers and patients advance theirs.
Despite the requirements of completing CPD points, professional development cannot be undervalued. Not only does continuing professional development allow for the pharmacist’s progression, it also ensures a high quality of care is provided to the customer. Utilising a pharmacist’s unique learning style to optimise activities can dramatically reflect the learning outcomes. Planning and reflecting on these events provides pharmacists with a greater context of their learnt information and demonstrates how a narrow topic can be broadly applied to their patients.