Continuing professional development (CPD) plays a key role in ensuring professionals maintain and develop their skills throughout their careers. It is also considered vital in one’s actual career development.


Indeed, the development and maintenance of a systematic and formalised system of CPD is often considered to be a defining feature of a professional body. And yet there is no agreed best way of arranging the processes and practises of a professional body’s CPD system. Different organisations seek to monitor and audit their CPD activities with differing degrees of rigour. Compulsory schemes are increasingly replacing voluntary ones but methods of enforcing compliance, even when a scheme is compulsory, are inconsistent, to say the least. Measures of outputs are becoming increasingly common but there is still a challenge in measuring those outputs. Some rely entirely on self assessment methods, while others use peer review as well as client/patient reviews.


So how do you know if your CPD policy is well-formed and doing what it should do?

Nelson Croom has a long track record of supporting professional bodies with the CPD schemes, which is why we’re sponsoring and actively supporting a new research project with the Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) on the subject of CPD.

The project aims to produce best practice guidance on contemporary CPD practises and processes, which will hopefully help provide a benchmark for professional bodies everywhere. We are looking to address questions such as:

  • What are the problems and pitfalls of monitoring CPD?
  • How much detail should you examine in audits?
  • What percentage should you look at to achieve a representative sample?
  • What is the best approach for dealing with those who don’t comply with your CPD policy?
  • What consequences should you impose for those who are late in submitting or who do not get through the audit? Do they need more guidance? Should incentives be offered to complete CPD record on time?
  • What are the problems with accreditation of CPD activities by external providers?
  • What level of accreditation resource should be expended?
  • Should CPD be compulsory?
  • How should an organisation look to implement changes in CPD policy whilst maintaining membership buy-in?

The final report will be published in April 2016 but, until then, I will keep you all posted with our progress and any key findings as we go.