Ehab Badran

Navigating CPD Points as a Surgeon in the NHS

As a surgeon in my surgical training in the NHS, apart from performing our daily duties for patient care, we are always on the quest for career progression. We aim to continually enhance our knowledge and formulate career development plans that are regularly evaluated during our appraisals.

Every year, we meticulously craft a strategy to attain a specific number of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.

But what exactly does this entail, and is it genuinely beneficial or merely a bureaucratic hurdle?

Understanding CPD Points

Continuing Professional Development, commonly referred to as CPD, is a structured approach that ensures medical professionals, like us, remain updated with the latest practices in medicine.

To put it simply, the primary goal of CPD is to make sure we’re always equipped with the newest knowledge, ensuring our patients get the best possible care aligned with modern standards. How do we keep track of our progress? We earn CPD points.

These points can be gathered in various ways: attending workshops, taking part in seminars, joining medical conferences, or even undergoing additional training courses.

Each activity has a designated number of points attached to it, usually based on its length and content. It’s crucial for us to keep detailed records of all these activities, as these are periodically checked by relevant professional bodies to ensure we’re genuinely participating and not just going through the motions. Another thing to note is that these points aren’t valid indefinitely.

After a certain period, they expire, emphasizing the need for ongoing learning and adaptation in our fast-evolving medical landscape. In the NHS, where we work, accumulating a specified number of these CPD points is often mandatory, especially when it comes to revalidation processes, earning promotions, or achieving significant career advancements.

Beyond the Checkbox:

In my journey as a surgeon within the NHS, I’ve often reflected upon the true essence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). While its foundational intent is commendable, I’ve noticed that sometimes, amidst the hustle and pressures of our roles, the pursuit of CPD points can inadvertently devolve into a checkbox exercise, lacking the genuine impact on our skills and knowledge development that it’s meant to have.

There have been instances where I’ve observed activities being undertaken solely for the sake of ticking them off a list. This “just get it done” approach detracts from the real essence of professional growth. Instead of being a transformative experience that truly adds value to our practice, it risks becoming a formality, a procedural hurdle to be crossed.

This observation isn’t to undermine the potential benefits of CPD. On the contrary, when approached with genuine intent, CPD activities can be a treasure trove of learning and skill enhancement. But it’s crucial to remember why we’re doing it in the first place.

It’s a debatable area, indeed. The challenge lies in striking a balance, ensuring that while we meet our CPD requirements, we’re also genuinely absorbing, learning, and growing from each experience. After all, at the heart of our profession is the commitment to offer the best care to our patients, and true growth is instrumental in achieving that.

Quality over quantity

Quality over quantity is a principle that resonates deeply with me, especially when reflecting on CPD. In the pursuit of professional growth, it’s not merely about amassing points or attending a plethora of events; it’s about the genuine enrichment of our knowledge and enhancement of our skills.

I firmly believe in the value of immersing oneself thoroughly in a singular, impactful activity that truly resonates and contributes to my development, rather than superficially engaging in multiple events just to meet a quota.

There have been times when a single workshop or seminar has provided more insight and growth than attending several sessions that didn’t resonate as deeply. For me, it’s not about the number of certificates amassed or boxes ticked, but the genuine learning and transformation I undergo through these experiences.

It’s about seeking those opportunities that truly align with my aspirations and needs as a surgeon, ensuring that every CPD activity I engage in leaves an indelible mark on my professional journey.

I’d much rather invest my time and energy into one meaningful CPD activity that pushes the boundaries of my knowledge and skills than spread myself thin across multiple events, leaving with only a cursory understanding and no real impact.

After all, our ultimate goal is to be the best in our field for the patients we serve, and that requires depth, commitment, and a genuine passion for learning.

Actionable plan

The core message is clear: CPD, irrespective of one’s profession, should be a transformative journey of genuine growth, not a mere procedural task. To harness the true potential of CPD and steer clear of the checkbox mentality, here’s a step-by-step plan to guide you:

  1. Self-Assessment: Begin by evaluating your current knowledge and skills. Understand where you excel and identify areas that need strengthening. This self-awareness is the foundation of meaningful growth.
  2. Set Clear Goals: Instead of aimlessly attending events, define what you want to achieve. Whether it’s mastering a new surgical technique or understanding a recent medical advancement, having clear objectives makes your CPD journey purposeful.
  3. Prioritize Depth: Choose activities that resonate deeply with your goals. It’s better to delve deeply into one subject that truly interests you than to skim over multiple areas.
  4. Engage Actively: When attending seminars or workshops, be an active participant. Ask questions, engage in discussions, and immerse yourself fully in the learning experience.
  5. Reflect and Implement: Post-activity, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned. More importantly, find ways to implement this new knowledge in your daily practice. Real growth is evident in application, not just knowledge acquisition.
  6. Seek Feedback: Regularly consult peers or mentors about your progress. Their insights can offer valuable perspectives on areas of improvement.
  7. Document and Review: Maintain a detailed record of your CPD activities. Periodically review this to ensure you’re on track and making meaningful progress.

By following this plan, CPD becomes a strategic tool for genuine professional advancement, ensuring that we’re always growing, learning, and elevating our practice to the pinnacle of excellence.

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