On Continuous Professional Development (Part 1)

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Completing continuous professional development (CPD) as a freelance or locum doctor can be a challenge. Working independently means you may not benefit from attending regular practice meetings where clinical case discussions, significant event analysis (SEA) and general medical discourse takes place. You may also find it harder completing other aspects of appraisal/ revalidation toolkits like 360-degree evaluation and patient feedback by not being in a regular environment. That does not mean that this is impossible and taking simple steps can actually mean it is a fairly easy task to achieve. 

Independent CPD

Solitary working makes for idle hands, so why not use them. When a learning need comes up, first of all jot it down. This can be on a noted pad in your bag, or using an online notepad i.e. Evernote or Springpad. These I find to be excellent alternatives, because you can access them from any internet enabled device (computer, phone etc) and also upload photos, documents, audio (i.e. a lecture) or even videos with each entry if need be. All entries are also times stamped to allow easy uploading to an eportfolio, especially with cut/paste function. Both options above are free to use. An alternative would be Google Docs use for text based entries. 

Also helping to find out those important learning needs, are resources accessible from where you are. One option is to carry books/ paper version like BNF, Oxfordhandbook of (insert speciality) or local guidance. An alternative is to use online web resources. These comprise of a variety of websites, from the well known GPNotebook, Clinical Knowledge Summaries and patient.co.uk, to the newer options like Tripanswers:, egplearning.co.uk, and uptodate.com. These can provide valuable portable resources that can aid in finding out your learning needs, or even completing them. The majority of these are free and open access, and if you are blocked by the practice computer system, are easily accessible via mobile internet through a phone. 

 E-learning

An extension to this is elearning which is very useful for targeted CPD. These are normally 10-40 minute online exercises with a certificate at the end. There are several providers of elearning modules. I find the better ones are:

  • e-GP- free to use for all NHS healthcare workers
  • RCGP Online learning environment (OLE) - which is bundled with the excellent essential knowledge updates and challenges (part of RCGP membership).
  • BMJ modules- which are behind a pay wall (although some can be accessed by registering with Univadis, the company supporting GPnotebook.)
  • Doctors.net- reasonable quality elearning sessions which are normally sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. 

There are a multitude of other providers but the above are well recognised and easy to use. 

Although not all forms of elearning are module based. Using items like podcasts (a downloadable lecture for example), or a vodcast/webinar (visual and audio version of a podcast) can provide easy access to high quality teaching materials. There are a variety of providers such as NHS, podmedics, surgery101 etc. These can then be viewed or listened to while travelling via a personal music player like an ipod or phone, or sat at a computer.

Speaking of technology, it can bring new opportunities of engagement for CPD. Such an example is the proliferation of online journal clubs. Examples such as @twitjournalclub and @gaslclass allow online journal club engagement with structure and interaction of peers. Using hashtags to allow an open discussion on a predetermined paper can allow a new way of interacting with peers. I recommend you give it a try. 

End of Part 1

Hussain Gandhi. Academic Teaching Fellow and Locum GP in Yorkshire area

Twitter: @drgandalf52

Blog: http://egplearning.co.uk/blog

Website: www.egplearning.co.uk an e-learning portal

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