Continuing professional development is more than mandatory

By ahhb
Wednesday, 04 February, 2015

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs to be seen by health professionals as more than simply a vehicle for keeping up to date and having their registration renewed so they can continue practising.

Rather, CPD is a tool that should be fully utilised to grow skills and knowledge, and in so doing, grow practices and business while extending the level of care for patients. It is also something that all health professionals, regardless of experience or area in which they work, need to engage in with a view to furthering their practice and not just meeting mandatory requirements.
In the pharmacy profession I am keen to see a greater uptake of advanced CPD by all pharmacists and I think that we may have inadvertently deterred some people by using the wrong nomenclature and language.
For some years we have been talking about the CPD of Advanced Pharmacy Practice and at PSA’s recent annual congress in Canberra we had a very enlightening presentation by Dr Ian Coombes, Director of Pharmacy at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy University of Queensland, and Chair Advanced Practice Credentialing Committee.
Dr Coombes began his presentation by renaming Advanced Pharmacy Practice as Advancing Pharmacy Practice which removed the perception that it is some form of elite education and focusses on what it actually is – a vehicle for furthering and growing a pharmacist’s practice and one which is available to all pharmacists, not just those with some years’ experience.
Dr Coombes pointed out some myths and facts about advancing pharmacy practice including that patients and healthcare providers expect practitioners to be competent and that many pharmacists have been practicing at an advanced level for many years.
However, he said it was a myth that formal recognition of advanced practice may be for a few but it was true that the professional development journey should be for all and for appropriate recognition along the way of incremental achievements.
I liked Dr Coombes tag that the CPD he was referring to should in fact be “life-long learning” and I believe we as a profession need to take this on board.
Dr Coombes quoted a 2014 job descriptor for advanced practitioner responsibilities which included:

  • Provision of high level evidence based clinical pharmacy services

  • Ensure safe and effective management of medications

  • Leading and managing a team of pharmacists and support staff to provide pharmacy services

  • Involved in audit, quality assurance and research

  • Providing education and training to pharmacists, nursing, medical staff

The point being made was that these skills need to be taken up by all pharmacists as a means of furthering, or advancing, their careers and practice. They are not skills reserved solely for long-term pharmacists or those who regarded themselves in the upper echelons of the profession.
Changing this mindset may take some time, and time is one of the critical issues here. I recognise that most health professionals are very time poor and so may succumb to the temptation of doing the minimum required continuing professional development to enable them to continue practising.
I would argue, however, that these people are doing themselves – and their patients – a disservice.
Undertaking targeted continuing professional development is a key to helping build a viable and sustainable future for any pharmacy practice. Apart from ensuring the pharmacist is at the cutting edge of the latest developments, it puts them in a position of strength over their peers who may not be taking advantage of the education opportunities available to them to advance their pharmacy practice. This competitive edge can be pivotal in the current economic environment and can certainly contribute to a career path.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has long recognised the value of CPD and has the highest-standard, and most highly regarded, CPD available for pharmacists in this country.
Part of our secret is that we are continually adapting and developing our CPD to meet the expectations and demands of pharmacists and consumers. It is up to pharmacists to take it up advance their practice.

“In the pharmacy profession I am keen to see a greater uptake of advanced CPD by all pharmacists and I think that we may have inadvertently deterred some people by using the wrong nomenclature and language.”

Grant Kardachi
Grant Kardachi was recently re-elected president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia for a fourth term. He is a community pharmacist who recently sold his business interests but is still accredited to undertake medication reviews and sits on the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy.
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