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General Dental Council publishes CPD literature review research

As part of Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation, the General Dental Council (GDC) made a commitment to develop a model of CPD which encourages and enables dental professionals to take ownership of CPD planning, development and innovation. Today, they took the next step in delivering on this commitment by publishing a systematic literature review on CPD. The new research was commissioned to ensure the GDC’s proposals to further develop CPD systems and regulation are evidence-based, innovative and fit for the future.

The literature review covered more than 800 papers and took data from 184 relevant publications, in addition to a survey circulated widely to relevant research area experts. The resulting report summarises evidence from across healthcare and non-healthcare sectors on the variety of CPD activities including areas of best practice, variations in different work settings, an influence of ‘insight and intelligence’, and qualitative-based CPD models.

GDC Head of Regulatory Intelligence, David Teeman, said:

“Following the successful introduction of enhanced CPD in 2018 which made the first steps towards a more meaningful approach to life-long learning in dentistry, we needed a clear and robust evidence-base to provide the grounding for the next stage of CPD development. This systematic review of the literature provides just that ahead of the development work taking place early this year and, ultimately, our planned wider engagement with stakeholders on the further developments to CPD this summer.”

The review’s key findings include:

  • A clear shift from regulators, both inside and outside of health, towards qualitative-based CPD models and away from quantitative-based models, which tend to focus on the number of CPD hours completed. This shift is likely linked to the inability of quantitative-based models to drive improved performance or patient care.
  • Take-up of CPD activity is largely driven by its relevance to patients or practice and the inclusion of interactive elements. CPD activity is also enhanced by reflective practice, but these skills are not inherent, and professionals need to be trained in how to reflect well.
  • A consensus in the literature on the value of personal development plans to document self-assessment of learning needs, CPD activity and reflections on its impact

The GDC commissioned the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) to undertake the research, which was carried out over the five months from June to October 2018.

Project Lead at the ADEE, Professor Jonathan Cowpe, said:

“Our work demonstrates that there is much change in how CPD is being recognised and managed by different professional groups, across healthcare and non-healthcare sectors. It recognises the general shift seems to be away from simply counting CPD hours, towards increasingly robust processes that are more concerned with how on-going education makes a difference to practice. This should strengthen the direction described by the GDC in Shifting the balance and can be used to inform further developments towards a more qualitative approach to the CPD requirements for the dental workforce.”

The full literature review report is available on the GDC’s website. The GDC is planning a consultation on its proposed further developments of CPD in the Summer of 2019.

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