Pharmacists have until the end of September to finalise their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) plan for the year. Here’s how you can use it to advance your career.

Amid long shifts and hectic workdays, it’s easy to sometimes view CPD as a box-ticking exercise, something that one undertakes purely to maintain professional registration.

But considering it like this underplays a far more effective use of CPD – as a method to plot one’s future career and planning how to gain the skills one needs to get where one wants to go. This is where CPD planning can be a powerful tool.

‘The imperative to produce a CPD plan serves as a great opportunity for pharmacists to consider not just their current role as a pharmacist, but also what this might look like in the future,’ PSA CPD Manager Rhyan Stanley said.

‘By planning the CPD that you complete, pharmacists are encouraged to consider the opportunities that lie ahead if they commit to their lifelong learning and development.’

To meet the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s annual CPD requirements for renewal of registration, pharmacists must complete CPD activities with an aggregate value of 40 or more CPD credits during each 12-month period from 1 October to 30 September.

Developing a formal plan for these activities became mandatory in the Board’s Guidelines on continuing professional development in 2015.1 The guidelines stipulate that every pharmacist should develop a plan to help them identify and undertake activities to meet their CPD needs, said outgoing chair of the Board, William Kelly FPS.

‘The CPD plan should include a broad range of activities relevant to their role or scope of practice,’ he said.

The rationale

The requirement that pharmacists must develop a CPD plan was intended to encourage career advancement and ‘raise the bar for the entire profession’, said PSA’s Mr Stanley.

‘Developing a CPD plan is about maintaining competence and extending scope of practice by identifying knowledge gaps through self-reflection to identify professional development opportunities.’

‘Planning CPD also encourages pharmacists to consider a variety of activities across a range of CPD activity groups and, where possible, to include interaction with peers and other health professionals.

‘This ensures that we’re exposed to different learning methods, increasing variety and enhancing the outcomes of the CPD that we undertake.’

The tools for the job

To help pharmacists meet the CPD planning requirements, PSA has developed an easy to use CPD Planning Tool2 which breaks the planning process down into five steps (see breakout below).

‘The great thing about the PSA CPD Planning Tool is that it supports pharmacists to undertake this process in a way that takes the guess work out of the equation,’ Mr Stanley said.

‘By following the simple steps and using the tool to create your CPD plan, you can rest assured that you have done so in accordance with the Pharmacy Board’s registration standard for continuing professional development.’

Mr Kelly said the CPD plan should also include an assessment of whether or not the intended outcomes of the activities were achieved.

‘Pharmacists are not required to “lodge” their CPD records but may have to provide them to the Board if requested, for example, if they are selected for audit,’ he said.

‘Records of CPD activity carried out during the previous three full CPD periods should be kept, and must include details under all fields specified by the Board.’

The key to advancing your career

Viewed with pessimism, developing a CPD plan could be seen as ‘just another thing that pharmacists must do’, acknowledged Mr Stanley.

But he encouraged pharmacists to shift their perspective.

‘Look at it for what it really is – an opportunity to embrace lifelong learning and to support your ongoing development as a health professional,’ he said.

‘In an environment where roles, recognition and remuneration are the focus of PSA’s strategic intent for the profession, using your CPD plan as a compass to focus your professional development can ensure that you’re well positioned to make the most of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.’

To meet the Pharmacy Board’s CPD standard, you must:

  1. Develop and maintain an annual CPD plan.
  2. Reflect on your role (i.e. scope of practice) against the current National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia.
  3. Select appropriate CPD activities that address your professional development needs relevant to your role and those identified competencies.
  4. Complete CPD activities that have an aggregate value of 40 or more CPD credits during each 12-month CPD period ending 30 September.
  5. Maintain detailed and verifiable records of CPD activities undertaken.

PSA’s CPD Planning Tool2 breaks the planning process down into five steps:

  1. Reflect on your scope of practice against the current National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia. Select appropriate CPD activities that address professional development needs relevant to your role.
  2. Identify relevant competencies from the current competency standards.3
  3. Identify your professional development needs or opportunities.
  4. Identify suitable CPD activities that will address your professional development needs. The tool will provide you with a tailored list of relevant CPD based on your identified scope of practice and development needs.
  5. Complete the CPD activities and reflect on how each of them has impacted your practice.

In practice

Kayla Lee MPS, Professional Services Pharmacist, Australian Capital Territory

I’ve found creating a CPD plan is really beneficial for ensuring my CPD is directed at the areas I’m passionate about, or the things I’m not as confident in. It means my CPD is never boring.

It also helps ensure I’m up-to-date with new therapies and guidelines that come along, which we know feels like all the time.

The PSA CPD Planning Tool is simple to use and identifies the different competency standards I should target to achieve my plan.

I can then easily add in different CPD modules and it tells me straight away which criteria have been addressed and those I still need to address.

The tool is super user-friendly and it makes it so easy to keep on top of the Pharmacy Board Requirements.

I would recommend all pharmacists give it a go to take the stress out of CPD planning.

In practice

Rachel Dienaar MPS, Pharmacist consultant, Tasmania

The PSA CPD Planning Tool makes it easier to meet the planning requirements by stepping you through a self-assessment of competencies.

The process allows you to reflect on your practice, think about your future career pathway and identify learning needs. The tool then links CPD activities with the competencies.

If I had one piece of advice for other pharmacists looking to use it I’d recommend being really practical.

Be really practical about realising when you need to up-skill according to best practice and legal requirements, but also be really practical about the things you would like to learn in order to advance your practice or develop a new career pathway.

And if you’re putting off CPD planning, just start by getting the scope of practice done. It really doesn’t take long and the rest will flow.

Further resources

Visit www.psa.org.au/cpdplan/

Additional resources funded by the Pharmacy Board of Australia:

  • Summary guide to meeting registration standards4
  • Implementation guide to meeting registration standards5
  • Editable self-assessment tool6
  • Editable learning plan tool7
  • Template for creating CPD plan and record8
  • Case examples showing how pharmacists with different scopes of practice can use tools9
  • Step-by-step video guides to using tools9

References

  1. Pharmacy Board of Australia. Guidelines on continuing professional development. 2015. At: pharmacyboard.gov.au/documents/default.aspx?record=WD15%2f18499&dbid=AP&chksum=H3lV5PqPKFCPuVIkiJyUkA%3d%3d
  2. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. PSA CPD Planning Tool. At: psa.org.au/cpdplan/
  3. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia. At: advancedpharmacypractice.com.au/download/resources/5202%20National%20Competency%20Standards%20Framework%20for%20Pharmacists%20in%20Australia%20_FINAL.pdf
  4. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Summary guide: Using the 2016 National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia to meet the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s CPD registration standard. At: psa.org.au/downloads/practice-guidelines/Summary-guide.pdf
  5. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Implementation guide: Using the 2016 National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia to meet the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s CPD registration standard. At: psa.org.au/downloads/practice-guidelines/Full-implementation-guide-slides.pdf
  6. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Self-assessment Tool, editable. At: psa.org.au/downloads/practice-guidelines/Self-assessment-tool-editable.pdf
  7. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Learning Planning Tool, editable. At: psa.org.au/downloads/practice-guidelines/Learning-plan-tool-editable.pdf
  8. Pharmacy Board of Australia. Continuing Professional Development plan record. At: pharmacyboard.gov.au/documents/default.aspx?record=WD15%2f19250&dbid=AP&chksum=YS91E%2f7ccsEzFKNcpWwjtQ%3d%3d
  9. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Implementation tools funded by the Pharmacy Board of Australia. At: psa.org.au/competencystandards/implementation-tools-funded-by-the-pharmacy-board-of-australia
  10. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Implementation tools funded by the Pharmacy Board of Australia. At: psa.org.au/competencystandards/implementation-tools-funded-by-the-pharmacy-board-of-australia

Access the PSA CPD Planning Tool at www.psa.org.au/cpdplan/