I have spent the better part of today trying to catch up after spending a couple days away from the office last week working on my professional development. A catch 22 for a director of professional development, right?
It was a great opportunity, but the aftermath can make you wonder if it was worth it. Well, I am here to tell you to keep your head up, it is! First, it is important to understand what continuing professional development is, and then, to describe why it is beneficial.
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What is Continuing Professional Development?
Continuing professional development is a key component to an employee’s success; ALL employees, regardless of time, tenure or position in an organization. And, it differs from training and education, an important distinction.
From the text, Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions, authored by a committee of the Institute of Medicine, training is the standardization of a process to yield similar results and education is the process by which people learn to apply solutions to problems and adapt to new situations.
However, professional development transcends both concepts and includes areas such as self-directed learning, systems changes and quality improvement; it teaches people not only how to apply solutions but also how to focus on actual performance and how to identify problems.
Continuing professional development is a learner-driven, lifelong journey. It doesn’t start with formalized education and it doesn’t end when the coursework is over, it is a continuous process. It is focused squarely on promoting effective practice, and is better positioned than other stages of learning to effect change because it occurs when professionals are most likely to be aware of their needs.
And What Are the Benefits?
So what can continuing professional development do and how can it be beneficial? Perform a search and you will find numerous articles about its benefits, but let me narrow down the list to some of the reasons that resonated most with me (not necessarily listed in order of importance).
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- Professional development activities help individuals stay relevant and up to date in a rapidly changing environment and furthermore keep up with the current standards of practice of others in the market. There are constant changes in subject content, new methods, advancements in technology, and changes to laws, regulations, and procedures. Individuals learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve their performance on the job.
- Continuing professional development ensures individuals continually strengthen their knowledge regarding the skills needed to provide appropriate high quality services to their customers. No matter what industry, everyone has a customer, and providing high-quality service should consistently be at the core of everything we do.
- Beyond the typical day-to-day skills, it can also allow individuals to diversify their skill set. New skills often bleed into current practices to create greater efficiency and effectiveness.
- By participating in continuing professional development activities individuals are helping to advance the body of knowledge within the profession.
- It allows individuals to connect with others who share the same interests. These individuals may become mentors to one another who may even unknowingly (or intentionally) contribute to the success of one another (and the organizations for whom they work!).
- By allowing individuals to showcase their achievements, confidence and credibility can grow. These attributes will extend well beyond the walls of any continuing professional development activity.
- Continuing professional development promotes greater work engagement from the workforce and can foster a more positive general commitment to job roles.
- It can promote maximizing staff potential, improve staff morale and may provide benchmarks for annual performance review/appraisal processes.
- And last, but certainly not least, continuing professional development activities can be beneficial for employee’s career progression and advancement.
Wherever your continuing professional development journey takes you, I hope you learn a lot, and enjoy the experience. There is always tomorrow to catch up on what you missed today!