10 Nov 2023
by Becca George

The do's and don'ts of self-study CPD

Becca George has some advice to help keep your CPD plan on track, so you can achieve your goals.

It all started in March 2023: that gut-wrenching feeling when your to-do list catches up with you. I’d been enjoying an online course about anatomy, but unfortunately, I’d let so many other things get in the way that my access to it expired in December 2022, and I only noticed when I went to log back in several months later!

Albeit incredibly disappointing, it was just the push I needed to re-evaluate my CPD goals. For the next six weeks, I experimented with assessing my CPD once a week: what CPD I’d like to do, what I’d done the previous week, how much time I could commit that week, and what I wanted to do in the future. These are the do’s and don’ts I learnt along the way…

❌ DON’T make the same mistake as I did! I hate to start things off with a negative, but it’s important that you don’t miss out on any CPD that you’ve been looking forward to. Check to see if that online article, webinar or course has time-limited access and take note so you can prioritise accordingly.

✅ DO come up with a plan, or at least a very good idea of what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. Remember that plans are specific to you and the way you like to work: you could draw up a rigorous plan and stick solidly to it, take a more flexible approach and take on CPD opportunities as and when you find them, or even come up with a hybrid plan that incorporates both approaches. Whatever you do, the key is to actively make decisions and take action rather than passively adding activities to your to-do lists. You can keep a record of your plan in ITI's CPD log.

❌ DON’T feel bad if you haven’t been able to stick to your plan. Ever-changing priorities, commitments and CPD updates mean that however good your plan may be, at some point, the plan may not be very sustainable to continue in its current form; be ready to adapt to these changing factors. Again, the key is to approach it actively and consciously so that you learn what works best for you and your circumstances. For example, you might need to change the training resource you’re using, the amount of time you spend on CPD or how often you make time for your CPD. Eventually, you’ll hopefully find a happy balance while still achieving your goals.

✅ DO shout about your achievements when you complete a significant piece of CPD. Whether it’s updating the CPD section of your CV, posting about the course on social media, or even sending a quick email to your clients to let them know what you’ve been up to— feel free to spread the word! If you’ve done something that helps you to continue offering quality work by staying up to date with your subject knowledge, why not tell the people who matter?

✅ DO have fun with it. CPD can be an opportunity to really dive into a subject that you’re enthusiastic about or fascinated by. The other week, I watched a video as part of an online course on medical terminology that briefly talked about reading someone’s blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer (a blood pressure cuff). It occurred to me that I’d never fully studied how blood pressure is measured, so off I went: I spent the next 40 minutes watching YouTube videos about how to take blood pressure manually. Embrace those tangents!