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Enhanced CPD is here

eCPD is here!

Happy New Year!

This is the traditional time of year for setting resolutions.  Things we would like to do to improve our lot.  Perhaps it is to shed some weight. That might mean going to the gym, taking up cycling, walking rather than using the car etc. You carry out your intentions and are rewarded by weight loss and improved fitness, which in turn encourages you to broaden your expectations and set a new goal.  Yippee! Sadly, such resolutions often fail because they are unrealistic and no time frame has been set.

Today is also the day that the enhanced CPD scheme is introduced for dentists. Parallels between New Year resolutions and CPD are not difficult to draw.

Judging from conversations I have had, many dentists have only a superficial understanding of their obligations under the new scheme. Most seem to be aware that general CPD is no longer a requirement and that the number of verifiable hours have been increased, but little else. I suspect that many may well leave it until the end of the year before checking what the requirements are. November will not be a good time to discover that none of your certificates is compliant.  So here are two key features of the new scheme with which dentists should be familiar now before participating in any CPD.  DCPs should also take note, because enhanced CPD is being introduced for all other registrants on 1 August; be prepared!

Personal Development Plan (PDP)

Under the 2008 regulations registrants were advised to have a PDP. This is now a requirement. In its guidance document for dental professionals, the GDC states "At the beginning of your cycle you will identify your maintenance and learning needs in your field of practice, and how this relates to the GDC's development outcomes. You can then plan how you will meet these needs through CPD activity regularly across your cycle."

Most dentists do not have a PDP and may be alarmed at the thought of having to create one. Do not be. It is not onerous. The GDC provides a useful template in Word format as a guide. In case you are concerned that should the GDC request to see your PDP you might reveal personal information you would rather keep personal, it will only assess that your records meet the minimum requirements (the CPD you plan to undertake, including activities relevant to your current or intended field(s) of practice, the relevant GDC development outcomes and when you plan to undertake them). You do not need to provide the GDC with anything else.

Documentary evidence

There have been some important changes to the documentary evidence that CPD providers must provide (normally a certificate). Note that it is the responsibility of the registrant to ensure that this contains all the information the GDC requires, so you must be familiar with the requirements otherwise your documentary evidence will be rejected should it be inspected.

When you complete a course on The Dental Channel you will see that our certificates now include the following additional information:

  • ​Course aim, objectives and anticipated outcomes;
  • Learning content;
  • GDC development outcomes;
  • Time spent viewing the content.

The rules and guidance documents can be confusing and contradictory, especially when describing outcomes and 'learning content'. A learning aim is what the training sets out to do, the objective is how it will achieve this, and the outcome is what the participant can expect on completion. These terms are frequently conflated. In our New Year resolution analogy, losing weight is the aim, going to the gym, cycling and walking are the objectives, and the improved fitness and weight loss are the outcomes. Interestingly, the GDC has removed the requirement to specify anticipated learning outcomes for an activity and replaced it by its generic 'development outcomes', four categories derived from the nine ethical principles in Standards for the Dental Team. We will continue to provide course outcomes in addition to the development outcomes as part of our learning summary because specific aims, objectives and outcomes are complementary and help the learner identify what can be expected from the activity.  They are also specified for both the "Expected Standard" and "Enhanced Provision" in the Quality Assurance Framework for Dental Workforce Development published by COPDEND, a document referred to by the GDC in its guidance for CPD providers.  It is odd that the GDC does not follow guidance to which it refers in its own documentation.

Neither the rules nor documentation define what learning content is. The GDC confirmed to us that providers can use whatever definition they want as long as it is on the documentary evidence. We define it as what is listed under the course content (e.g. presentation, quiz, document etc).

Our certificates display the anticipated time to complete a course and the actual time. It is the latter that the GDC require; the time awarded must accurately reflect the time spent in the activity. It you spend 50 minutes this is what must be awarded. Again this is not clear from either the rules or guidance and it is highly likely to present a challenge for some forms of CPD e.g. journal-based.

Next steps

The GDC has published various documentation to explain why the scheme is being introduced and what is expected of registrants, so if you have not already had a look please do. I would also, of course, recommend viewing our course on the subject for a comprehensive critical discussion of the scheme, its background and the direction in which CPD is heading.

May your resolutions for 2018 be realistic and realised!

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