The Learning Portfolio
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement to remain registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) and able to practice here in the United Kingdom. It is similar to continuing education (CE) but has some vast differences. Most notably, one's CPD need not be in the form of a registered course. Journal clubs, reflective practice, mentoring, attending conferences -- all would count toward meeting one's CPD obligations. The HPC recommends spending a minimum of half a day monthly on CPD activities in order to stay current and relevant with one's practice.
All of this experience is then collected and saved in a Learning Portfolio. Reflections on journal discussions or individual readings, certificates of course completion, testimony from line managers about how one has changed one's practice as a result of professional growth, annual appraisals and action plans, as well as other things should be retained and collected. The HPC can audit this at any time and can sanction and strike off members who have failed to maintain records of their own development.
I rather like the recognition that development comes from a wide variety of sources. Shadowing someone who is a specialist in an area that I'm not familiar with would indeed help my development and I get credit for that activity here. I used to have a rather negative view of many CE courses back in the United States. Some I thought were glorified sales pitches for equipment (see Dr. Patt's post from last week). Some were too basic, and some required a travel and time commitment that made one choose between a much-needed holiday or a course.
I actually think the situation has improved back home. The courses I've attended over the past few years have proved to be worthwhile and stimulating of growth. I also think that states mandating CE hours to maintain licensure has prompted more educated and demanding consumers among PTs.
Although approached from different angles, both countries have insisted that professionals continue to grow if they want to continue to practice. That is not a bad thing.