One of the biggest challenges we will face as Paramedics in Manitoba move towards self-regulation will be in the area on education; specifically Continuing Professional Development. So in this post, I would like to explore what CPD means, and how the requirements for CPD will affect us. I will present CPD requirements from other self-regulated Professions as examples of what we might encounter.
Let’s start, once again, with a definition. What exactly is Continuing Professional Development? This is a quote taken from The CPD Certification Service website in the UK:
“Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. It enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive.
CPD combines different methodologies to learning, such as training workshops, conferences and events, e-learning programs, best practice techniques and ideas sharing, all focused for an individual to improve and have effective professional development.”
Currently in Manitoba, Paramedics have two different streams of ongoing education. The first is the Manitoba Continuing Competency Program for Paramedics, as outlined by Manitoba Health EMS Branch. This program involves reviewing reading material, and then taking specific online tests, based on a three year rotation of required subjects. The second is any skills maintenance or renewal/refresher programs offered by the Paramedic’s employer, typical done on an annual basis.
Continuing Professional Development must involve both maintenance of competencies and also the leaning of new ideas, new skills, and new treatment modalities, based on current evidence based medicine and best practices. So let’s look to other health care professions, and what their requirements are for CPD.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba
According to information provided on the CPSM website, an amendment to Regulation 25/03 of The Medical Act requires all Physicians in Manitoba to take part in one of two CPD programs. Within these programs, members of the college are required to obtain anywhere from 25 to 40 credits per year, to a total of 250 to 400 credits over a 5 year period. Credits are broken down into various sections, such as group learning activities, self-learning activities and assessment. More information on the types of learning and credit amounts assigned to each activity can be found on the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada website here.
College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba
The licensing body for LPNs in Manitoba sets out very clear criteria for CPD. Known as the Continuing Competence Program, or CCP, it is broken down into four areas as follows:
- Practice Hours: All LPNs are expected to work a minimum of 1000 hours over a four year period.
- Self-assessment: Assessing current knowledge, and identifying gaps and areas for further learning.
- Learning Plans: LPNs are expected to develop two learning plans each year, outlining their goals for further education, how they expect to meet those goals, and how the outcomes are expected to impact their practice.
- Professional Portfolio: LPNs are expected to maintain a portfolio of all the continuing education activities for each year, and are subject to potential audit each four year period.
- Further information on the CPP program can be found on the CLPNM website here.
Alberta College of Paramedics
Looking to our peers in the west, the Alberta College of Paramedics also has a structured program. It comprises of two parts; the first being Continuing Professional Development, and the second is Competence Assessment (this program is currently in development as per their website).
The CPD portion involves the practitioner again self-assessing his or her learning needs, and developing a plan to meet those needs through approved education opportunities. The plan is implemented, and then recorded for submission to the college on a two year cycle. Each hour spent on a particular activity is assigned 5 CPD credits, to a maximum of 30 credits per activity. Activities are recorded and submitted online. Information on the program, including a chart outlining self-assessment CPD can be found on the college’s website here.
To quote from their website “…The purpose of lifelong learning is to ensure capabilities are commensurate with the current standards of others in the same field. Lifelong learning will help safeguard the employer, the public…”
It is not just health care professions that require CPD. Engineers Canada has a very specific outline of continuing professional development programs for their members, to assist them in keeping current with the every changing world of engineering, as new processes, materials, and design methods are developed. Members can voluntarily submit documentation, or may be subject to an audit by the Engineers Canada, where they would be required to show proof of their CPD activities. More information on the program specifics can be found at the Engineers Canada website here.
How is this going to affect me?
Although through some associations, unions, or employers, there may be funding for CPD activities, the majority of CPD will be an out of pocket expense. This means we will have to budget each year for programs to meet whatever requirements are set by the future College of Paramedicine in Manitoba. Although some may find this to be a detriment, it will force us all to seek out more knowledge, to the betterment of the profession as a whole, to ourselves as practitioners, and most importantly, to provide a higher level of care for our patients. Remember that not all self-directed learning has a cost associated with it. Reviewing a medical journal with information relevant to prehospital care, and then documenting the review and what has been learned, only costs some time, and we can all find a bit of that. CME credits can be obtained from watching podcasts on websites such as Emcrit.org, with a minimal cost for registration (this is one of my favorite activities; Dr. Weingart is an excellent speaker!).
I suspect that this will require a significant culture shift for many practitioners, but I also believe that we can all see the benefit. To quote one my inspirations on the guitar, and a wonderful and kind man:
“The beautiful thing about learning
is that nobody can take it
away from you” – B.B. King
As always, your comments are welcome. Thank you.