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Fulfilling Continuous Professional Development
The dental profession is not alone in prescribing the ongoing professional development activities of its members. Historically, attending courses and obtaining the certificates was an acceptable way to measure the CPD, however, this approach now termed as 'In-put CPD', simply measures time spent on CPD activities and does not reference what has been learned and how that learning will contribute to the professional’s ongoing skills development.
We are now at the point where professional development is measured in terms of how the learning has enhanced the participant’s ability to deliver better patient care. This is termed as 'Out-put measures CPD' which requires the learning provider the set out measurable aims and learning objectives, and for participants to participate in reflective practice, and consider how the learning will be used in day-to-day patient care.
A standardised framework for measuring learning, favoured by the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND), is the Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy approach, (Taxonomy simply means classification) in which the value of CPD is distinguished through the measurement of the following three domains of learning.
- Cognitive: Concerns knowing the facts - what you know following the training.
- Affective: Concerns analysis, evaluation, attitudes, values and beliefs following the training and measures the willingness of the learner to develop new working practices as a result of the learning experience.
- Psycho-Motor: Concerns how learning will be translated and used in the future.
Applying the theory
These domains present a hierarchy in which the preceding level prepares the ground for the next. For dental professionals, the most significant application of this theory is to guide reflective practice. The GDC requires that CPD records include:
- A Professional development plan which is specified at the start of a five year cycle.
- Reflective practice is used as part of the evaluative process to determine the extent to which the learning experience will enhance patient care.
To make the reflective review meaningful, the Bloom’s Taxonomy theory provides a structure in which the participant can focus their reflection on the specified three domains. It provides a framework for considering what has been learned in the cognitive domain, by specifying additional factual knowledge. It then goes on to identify how this has developed attitudes and related understanding in the Affective Domain and finally goes on to consider how to apply new learning in the Psych-Motor Domain.
This information should be kept as a record on the CPD log, or written on the back of the certificate. It is also logical to link this reflection directly to the aims and learning outcomes originally specified by the training provider.
This type of analysis can be used to enhance a vast range of CPD activities such as appraisals, team meetings, PPT Feedback analysis and peer view meetings or Quality Circle activities.