I’m old enough to remember when continuing education (CE) was a thing. For those not aware of how this worked in pharmacy, it involved going to a workshop or completing a distance learning package, and in return you’d receive a certifi cate that stated how many hours of CE it constituted.
Often what you learned was guided by what was available, so, for example, you might clock up four hours’ CE by attending a lecture on rather gruesome dermatological complaints rarely seen in community pharmacy because that’s what was on at a convenient time in a nearby location. It seems anachronistic now, but you got your 30 hours as and when you could. The internet, after all, was in its infancy.
Then came continuing professional development. This was an improvement, as it was much more self-directed. Pharmacy professionals were encouraged to identify gaps in their knowledge or skills, find activities that would help fill the void, and then think about how it had improved their practice. CPD went through several iterations in terms of recording – all of which felt somewhat repetitive and therefore onerous, regardless of whether on paper or online – but it marked a shift to a more considered and individualised approach, which was a good thing for pharmacists and patients alike.
The recent introduction of revalidation ushers in a new era, and one, again, that is necessary. The much maligned CPD recording website uptodate.org.uk has gone readonly, and will be taken down altogether on 6 June. So partly out of nostalgia, and partly out of anxiety about losing my old CPD records – which I was regarding as “years of work”, both erroneously and overdramatically – I logged on to see what I wanted to hold onto.
I was frankly astonished at previous me. My records were precise in their detail – perhaps this is why I got such a high rating from the GPhC when it came to submitting my CPD records a few years ago – and my rather geeky love of learning was evident in every entry. It was also easy to print or save records (much more straightforward than logging in, which involved looking up my professional registration number on the GPhC website, and requesting to reset my password), so I dutifully did so, doing a “batch save” in PDF format on my work computer.
But later on that day, I wondered just why my instinct was to hold on to something I was highly unlikely to refer to in the future. I wouldn’t be able to use any of the entries for revalidation as they wouldn’t fall within the predetermined time period. Much of what I’d done would be due another update anyway. And what I learned from previous development activities was now either no longer required or well embedded in my practice. I was holding on to my CPD records much as I hang onto my A level revision notes that are now over two decades old. Simply habit. A feeling that they would help me prove something, should a day of reckoning come. Maybe I was also fuelled by a touch of fear. But actually – for me – it felt nonsensical.
Perhaps that whole thought process is proof of how far pharmacy professionals have come. Refl ection is now something we do consciously, yet without thinking. That behaviour will stand us in good stead – as will our experience in logging all those articles read, workshops attended, courses completed and so on – when it comes to undertaking and documenting revalidation activities. So the journey from CE to CPD has perhaps been more transformative than we realise.
Onwards and upwards.