The learning practice

With the introduction of enhanced professional status for Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) as a result of expanded GDC registration, it is essential that the profession provides opportunities for ongoing learning to make staff feel valued and to develop, which will in turn meet patients’ increasing demands and needs.

The GDC has produced a Continuing Professional Development framework, presently for dentists, but expected to include all DCPs in due course. Whilst responsibility for professional development lies with each individual to ensure their development is relevant to practice needs, whole practice and sub-group learning activities are fun and team building.

The GDC framework for CPD formally recommends subjects that dentists and DCPs should continue to study and quantifies the amount of time that should be spent on these studies. By July 2008, all DCPs must be registered with the GDC and will be required to carry out CPD in accordance with the GDC’s guidelines.

In general terms, staff development (whether for CPD purposes or personal development) can be delivered in either of two manners; formal or informal. Formal methods are generally those which have measured results where the outcome is set by others, e.g. training delivered in a classroom environment. Informal methods are those such as reading relevant magazines or journals.

New opportunities

There are many resources available for staff development. The choice of activity will depend upon the needs of learners, practice resources and GDC requirements. This change of emphasis for professional development has spurred training providers to develop a new range of opportunities in tune with the profession’s needs. One such example is the series of four CPD programmes designed by the Dental Resource Company for group learning. Each earns 12 hours of verifiable CPD, and the first four programmes in this series are:

• Supervisory Skills for Dental Nurses

• Communication the Essential Skill for Dental Professionals

• Legal and Ethical Considerations for Dental Care Professionals

• Making the most of Comments, Compliments and Complaints.

The programme encourages group learning using a pack which consists of an audio CD and workbook containing information, activities and a CPD quiz. Learners need to download the activities and quiz which can be emailed for assessment by DRC tutors.

Budget considerations will influence the choice of learning opportunities, so these innovative programmes are multi-use with just an assessment and certification fee charged to subsequent learners. See

Another cost-effective training format is to have a trainer visit the practice for a day rather than send a group of the workforce away to a workshop incurring travel and course fee costs to their premises.

There are a growing number opportunities for staff development within the dental profession. The decision to invest in one or more of these must be based on the requirements of the practice and the team; another important consideration should be to ascertain the most appropriate format to match the learning styles of your team.

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