After registration, Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists are expected to keep their skills and knowledge up to date through CPD. CPD includes any educational or professional activity directed towards developing and maintaining the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to improve practice. The ultimate purpose of CPD must be to allow you as a dental professional to provide high quality patient care by maintaining and improving standards across all areas of your professional practice, whether that is providing clinical care in general dental practice, community or hospital, or being involved in education and training of the professionals of the future.
CPD should be a systematic, ongoing and self-directed process; it should be a normal part of how to plan and manage ones working life. A CPD cycle should include self appraisal, development of a personal plan, action, documentation, and evaluation. If you are a member of your respected Association or Society, it is likely that you will have been provided with a CPD file to assist you with this process, offering guidance how to undertake this using a reflective approach. This file also provides a storage mechanism for certificates of attendance, articles that have been read for general CPD purposes, and articles you have written or lectures that you have delivered. If you are unsure how to develop your professional development explore whether there are any courses available on Personal Development Planning (PDP) and consider the benefits of attending one of these so that your career is fulfilling.
The GDC introduced mandatory CPD on 1 August 2008; all registered Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists should be undertaking this and developing their portfolio of evidence, so that this is available to the GDC should they request this at the end of the cycle. A 5 year cycle of CPD activity constitutes 150 hours of verifiable and general CPD, with 50 of these hours being verifiable CPD. On a yearly basis, registrants are required to inform the GDC what CPD has been undertaken over the year by providing a statement of the CPD hours; failure to undertake this may result in removal from the register. The GDC stipulates core subjects that need to be undertaken; these are:
- Medical Emergencies: minimum 10 hrs per cycle, although it is recommended that this is undertaken yearly
- Disinfection and decontamination: minimum 5 hours per cycle
- Radiography and Radiation Protection: minimum 5 hours per cycle
The GDC also recommend the following for Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists:
- Legal and Ethical Issues
- Complaints Handling
For a course to be verifiable there are a number of criteria that need to be met; these are:
- There are concise educational aims and learning outcomes - this will provide you with a clear purpose or goal
- A quality assurance mechanism - this is usually via a feedback form
- Documentary proof of attendance - usually a certificate is provided
If you are not sure whether a course is verifiable, then it would be wise to ask the training provider or record this as a general CPD activity.
CPD can be obtained in a number of ways and need not be expensive; lifelong learning does not have to be about attending courses as it is now possible to access a wide range of learning opportunities through various means such as webinars, CD teaching materials, distance learning, clinical audit within your dental environment, reading of Journals, peer review, background research, so the opportunities are broad and varied.
To meet the requirements of verifiable CPD, HEE EoE offer a wide range of courses for both dentists, DCPs and for the whole team, and are competitively priced; often the only fees are to cover refreshments for the day. However, you need to register early as they are popular and get booked up quickly. You can book on courses offered by other LETB's so it is worth looking at London, Oxford and Kent, Surrey and Sussex as these are available in the south of England.
Your professional Association or Society offer CPD courses, in addition to receiving regular journals, which would assist with you completing your general CPD; often courses take place on a Saturday in your region, so you do not have to take time away from work, or travel too far to attend them. The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy and the British Association of Dental Therapists have local regional groups across the UK, and generally offer two study days per year. Additionally, the Faculty of General Dental Practice, based at the Royal College of Surgeons in London offer membership to DCPs enabling attendance at courses , offer programmes and assessment in Key Skills for DCPs, and members also receive their quarterly Journal ‘Team in Practice’.
We should all be using lifelong learning to ensure that we are competent in our practice, wherever that may be. This in turn should improve personal performance and enhance career progression, keep us motivated and maximise the enjoyment in our professional lives.