Facing the CPD requirements

I’ve previously written in this column about how we can develop as dentists, practice leaders, team members and, ultimately, individuals by taking courses or adding another treatment modality to our practice armamentarium after engaging in continuing education.

I’ve also told of the fun that can be had when you attend a course where you get to meet like-minded individuals. After all, the fact that we GDPs often operate alone means we can run the risk of ‘getting stuck in a rut’.

Now, however, there is a more pressing reason to consider attending these events. From 1 January 2010, it is expected that the Dental Council of Ireland will require every registered dentist to complete 250 hours of CPD (continuing professional development) over the following five years and then over each ensuing a five-year cycle. This CPD is to be divided into 75 hours of verifiable CPD and 175 of CPD undertaken personally.

In order to be verifiable the activity must have:
1. Concise educational aims and objectives
2. Clear anticipated outcomes
3. Quality controls to allow us to give positive and negative feedback
4. Documentary proof of attendance from the person or body running it, in the form of a certificate.

This, in effect, means that each year 15 hours of verifiable CPD must be accumulated and certificates kept for scrutiny by the Council if required. The IDA-run scientific meetings, the annual IDA conference, hands-on courses, training in CPR and overseas courses or conferences can all count towards your total.

The remainder of the 175 hours (this works out to approximately 45 minutes a week or 2.5 hours a month) are to be covered by journal reading, personal study, forming a local study group devoted to a particular topic (for example, I know of some who studied orthodontics with Skip Truitt who now hold regular study groups and annual study days ), DVD or CD-ROM presentations or online information. (Dentaltown.com hosts many varied presentations that can be viewed.)

The form of CPD being introduced over here is just like that of the UK’s General Dental Council (GDC), which has been in effect since 2002 for dentists and 31 July 2008 for dental care professionals (DCPs). DCPs in the UK are now obliged to carry out 150 hours of CPD over a five-year period, of which 50 hours must be verifiable.

The GDC’s website further states its intention to ‘develop a revalidation scheme for all members of the dental team. Compulsory CPD will form an important part of revalidation for everyone who registers with us.’

The GDC further states that ‘the aim of revalidation will be to protect the patient by making sure all dental professionals show they are fit to stay on our registers. Dental professionals will do this by regularly revalidating their registration and will need to be able to show that:
1. Their knowledge is up to date and relevant to their practice
2. Their professional performance is up to the standards needed to maintain registration
3. Their behaviour meets the standards set out in our ethical guidelines Standards for Dental Professionals.

While I welcome CPD and see the benefits for all in the development, I believe there are issues that need to be addressed before the scheme gets up and running. One such area is the funding for completing the CPD.

In the UK, proper travel, subsistence and pro rata hourly payments are in existence, and this needs to be pursued here on our behalf by the IDA. When, as is inevitable, our hygienists and registered dental nurses are obliged to engage in CPD, they will not be slow to ask who will be footing the bill; this should be sorted out in advance.

This is one of the most important developments in our professional life in many years; ultimately it can lead to loss of registration and livelihood if you fail to comply with the requirements.
Next month I will cover ways we can plan, carry out and record our CPD to enable easy compliance with the scheme.

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