“Continuing Professional Development (CPD) refers to learning that occurs throughout your professional life, is planned and recorded, supports you in your work and development as a practitioner and also benefits the care of your patients.” British Acupuncture Council

Most of us as practitioners already undertake many CPD activities, however many have not yet developed the regular structured habit of recording these activities routinely. We regularly look up a patients medical conditions, chatting with fellow health professionals, it happens continually in our regular working lives, but we don’t perhaps learn as we could from them.

We should view CPD as a system to encourage and foster a culture of continuing personal and professional development within our professions, and any CPD that we undertake must allow for the fact that our educational needs will differ, and that we undertake our learning in differing ways. It can encompass learning from all activities that support our work, much of which will be practice based and part of our daily life and others not.

We should undertake our CPD in a 5-stage system.

  • Connector.


    Looking back on what you did or how you acted and considering what worked well what didn’t.

  • Connector.


    Plan a great educational CPD activity.

  • Connector.


    Undertake the CPD activity.

  • Connector.


    Think about how what you undertook has had an impact on your practice.

  • Connector.


    Don’t forget to record it as evidence you’ve undertaken the CPD activity.

CPD usually falls into 5 categories

Learning by doing
Case studies
Reflective practice
Clinical audit
Coaching from others
Discussions with colleagues
Peer review
Gaining, and learning from, experience
Involvement in wider work of employer (for example, being a representative on a committee)
Work shadowing
Job rotation
Journal club
In-service training
Supervising staff or students
Visiting other departments and reporting back
Expanding your role
Analysing significant events
Filling in self-assessment questionnaires
Project work or project management
Evidence of learning activities undertaken as part of your progression on the Knowledge and Skills Framework

Involvement in a professional body
Membership of a specialist interest group
Lecturing or teaching
Being an examiner
Being a tutor
Branch meetings
Organising journal clubs or other specialist groups
Maintaining or developing specialist skills (for example, musical skills)
Being an expert witness
Membership of other professional bodies or groups
Giving presentations at conferences
Organising accredited courses
Supervising research
Being a national assessor
Being promoted

Further education
Attending conferences
Writing articles or papers
Going to seminars
Distance learning
Courses accredited by professional body
Planning or running a course
Reading journals / articles
Reviewing books or articles
Updating knowledge through the Internet or TV
Keeping a file of your progress

Public service
Voluntary work

Frequently Asked Questions about CPD
In short – YES.

All professionals need to undertake CPD. As an experienced practitioner who has worked hard to build and maintain a practice, your challenge will be to find something you need to learn that really interests you, is useful to your practice and that keeps your skills and knowledge up to date, these are the courses that the CPD group aim to provide.

The challenges of undertaking CPD will be different for you than for more experienced peers and colleagues. Finances may be an issue and it is worth bearing in mind that starting and maintaining your business is part of CPD, as well as consolidating through practice all that you have learned to date.
Many professionals feel like this, especially if they are a recent graduate, the difference is that you set your own direction and courses according to what you find you need to learn to develop as a professional.
All learning is invaluable and counts; it is entirely acceptable to include a written record of any additional, unplanned learning in your CPD record. The important thing is to do is to record them.
Make time… doing something new often requires more of your time to become confident. You should try to work with others to make the process more enjoyable, and focus on what you want to do as well as what you need to do.
Just because something is not in your current plan does not mean it cannot be of value. Accidental and unplanned learning can be as valuable and important, especially if you make a quick note to put with your learning needs assessment material in your CPD portfolio. You can then return to it later and follow it up.
Generally this is quite subjective, at any point in your career you may feel that you have reached a new level of mastery, especially when you have been in practice for a while. One step you can take is reflecting about what has changed and how it is that a particular situation or aspect of practice no longer causes you the concern it used to. You should then go on to find a way of documenting what has taken place.
In 2001 Kyoko Durnall, looked at how acupuncturists supported themselves educationally in the first five years. She observed that new practitioners continued to want to use their books and to upgrade their skills by engaging in CPD courses.
A Personal Development Plan is meant to be flexible. If part way through you find something else more urgent you adapt your current plan and create another plan, completed CPD provides part in your portfolio as further evidence of learning.
Recording significant events or ‘sticky moments’ works well if the learning affects you, and although we all learn differently, trying some of these methods out will bring you to your own conclusions. Recording and undertaking CPD allows you to reflect on what has brought you to where you are and plan for the future.
Correct, it is, however, it is also the view of the majority of responsible professionals in practice, that some system of CPD is not only necessary, but desirable, and it will prove of benefit to you as an individual and to the profession as a whole. You should not consider CPD to be a chore that you have to get through.
A framework and structure that you use does not have top follow the one outlined above, you can also design and experiment with your own to find out what works best for you. It should though be consistent and structured, and should meet your own individual need.