- 22 June, 2023
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Our public protection role includes ensuring that the dental team are well-trained and deliver care to high standards. Undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) supports lifelong learning and helps to ensure the professional knowledge, skills and behaviours of the dental team are kept up to date. It is an effective way to gain new skills and is essential for those who want to expand their scope of practice.
The Enhanced CPD scheme established a more flexible and personalised approach to lifelong learning for the dental team. It introduced important changes to CPD requirements for dental professionals aimed at improving the quality of learning, and supporting dental professionals to maintain, develop and improve their practice.
The changes to CPD requirements included:
- An increase in the number of verifiable CPD hours to be completed (except for dental nurses and dental technicians), alongside the removal of the requirement to record and report non-verifiable CPD, reducing the total number of required CPD hours to be completed over each five-year cycle.
- To spread CPD across the five-year cycle, by completing at least 10 hours of CPD in each consecutive two-year period, including across cycles.
- To produce, maintain and retain a Personal Development Plan (PDP).
- To reflect on learning, and record that it has taken place.
- An ability to request an additional 56 days, or grace period, at the end of a CPD cycle to support compliance with the minimum number of hours of CPD.
- To make a CPD statement and declaration every year.
We commissioned Cardiff University to carry out an evaluation of the Enhanced CPD scheme to help us understand the experiences of dental professionals and how the scheme has operated since its introduction in 2018. A range of research methods were adopted to complete the evaluation, including an analysis of anonymised CPD data, rapid evidence review, representative survey of over 2,800 dental professionals, and qualitative interviews.
The research findings indicate that the vast majority of dental professionals do not find the Enhanced CPD requirements difficult to achieve and that compliance rates are high. Specifically, we found that:
- Compliance levels with the five-year requirements for verifiable CPD hours were high among dental professionals, at almost 95% overall, with young dentists showing the highest level of compliance.
- Compliance with the requirement to spread CPD across the cycle by doing a minimum of 10 verifiable CPD hours in each consecutive two-year period were also high, and highest amongst those who are required to do the highest number of hours across each cycle.
- There were no reliable demographic predictors for compliance in this study.
- Most dental professionals felt that automatic removal from the register for not meeting CPD requirements was unfair, and that contextual factors should be considered.
Compliance rates for the five-year requirements for verifiable CPD hours were higher than the compliance rates for the requirement to do 10 hours over each consecutive two-year period, which were lowest amongst dental nurses and dental technicians. There was widespread support amongst dental professionals for the length of CPD cycles and the 10 hours rule.
The majority of survey respondents found it easy to comply with the 10 hours rule, with only 16% of survey respondents indicating some difficulty with complying. Some registrants commented that they liked the nudge, and others welcomed the flexibility of the rolling two-year requirement.
Large numbers of dental professionals indicated that their participation in CPD was driven less by regulatory requirements and more by their sense of professionalism and personal interest, but that view was not universal. The findings also suggest that some registrants take a more compliance-based approach to CPD, completing the minimum number of verifiable CPD hours, with limited regard for the quality of the activity or relevance to their own learning or development needs.
While some research participants saw the Enhanced CPD scheme as restrictive, researchers heard from others that it provided them with the freedom to plan their own learning, although around half of those surveyed agreed that more guidance would help them to make better use of their Personal Development Plan (PDP).
The findings from the research also indicated:
- Around a third of those surveyed found it difficult to create a PDP, and over a third found it difficult to maintain one during their CPD cycle.
- Continued confusion about whether CPD recommended topics are compulsory, and their relevance was questioned by those not in patient-facing roles. Some dental professionals felt that recommended topics limited their ability to personalise learning, while others understood the flexibility to make CPD choices based on their own learning needs.
- Low levels of awareness among dental professionals on some features of the Enhanced CPD scheme, particularly those designed to provide flexibility, such as the ability to request more time at the end of a CPD cycle (grace period) and the ability to record that no verifiable CPD hours were completed in single year.
- The need to provide more guidance on how some types of CPD, such as peer learning, can be made verifiable by mapping activities to CPD development outcomes and completing quality assurance processes.
If you are interested in this topic, you may also want to review:
- Review of the literature on CPD (ADEE, 2019)
- Shaping the direction of lifelong learning for dental professionals (GDC, 2021)