eBulletin Article Originally Published in Issue V10 N1 January 2019
The end of the first two-year cycle of the College’s mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program is approaching. In approximately six months, at the end of June 2019, members with “odd” registration numbers will be required to make a declaration that they have fulfilled all of the requirements of the program over the previous two years.
As decided by the College Council, the College will conduct a compliance audit at the end of each two-year cycle. In the summer or fall of 2019 therefore, some members of the College with odd registration numbers will be selected at random for participation.
For the purpose of planning the audit process, the Quality Assurance Committee sought volunteers from the membership to participate in a “mock audit”. These volunteers, who made early declarations that they had completed all of the mandatory CPD requirements, were asked to provide copies of their CPD materials and documentation to help the Committee formulate questions and design a fair and consistent process. This was a ‘no risk’ experience for participants who were provided with specific detailed feedback, for their own information.
The Committee reviewed materials provided by 17 members. Based on this information, it appeared that 12 of the volunteers either met or exceeded all of the program requirements. If this had been an actual audit, more information would likely have been sought from some. Two members appeared not have satisfied all of the requirements and three did not provide sufficient information for the Committee to decide one way or the other.
The exercise provided a great deal of information that will help to structure the process when the first actual audits are conducted. It also provided helpful information for all members to assist in planning and recording their CPD activities.
For the most part, volunteers were proficient at determining the correct categories in which to count their credits. Some of the Committee’s observations in conducting the mock audit, even with those who appeared likely to have satisfied the requirements, are summarized below:
The Need for Specific and Objective CPD Goals
The Self-Assessment Guide (SAG) and the CPD program are integrated components of the Quality Assurance program, with the setting of CPD goals being the final stage within the self-assessment process. In setting CPD goals, it is recommended that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound). Although this has not been set out as a requirement, a SMART goal is a good way to actively manage progress.
The Need for Alignment between SAG Goals, Current Practice and CPD Goals
While interesting opportunities to learn about things that might not be in a learning plan can arise and provide serendipitous benefit, one’s choice of CPD activities should also fill identified gaps in knowledge and skill and be expected to further enhance services currently provided.
Calculating the Total of 50 Credits Using Only the Maximum Number Permitted within Each Category
Category maximums have been established because the mandatory CPD program is based upon the understanding that members will learn more effectively if they engage in a variety of different learning experiences. Members are likely to exceed the maximum number of credits permitted within some categories and those credits which exceed the maximums may not be used towards the total of 50 required credits. The College’s on-line tracking tool automatically accounts for excess credits and members who do not use this tool must take care to count only the maximum allowable number of credits in each category when declaring that they have satisfied the requirements of the program.
Using Correct Activity Dates
If using the online tracking sheet, the date upon which the activities were undertaken must be manually entered, otherwise the form will automatically show the date the information was entered on the form.
Using Credits Only for Activities Occurring Within the Current Two Year Cycle
Only those activities conducted within the two years before the end of the cycle are eligible for credit. While the on-line tracking tool will account for events which are not within the cycle, those who choose not to use the on line tool are advised to check the beginning and end dates of their current cycle when choosing and reporting their CPD activities. These dates are available here.
Including Sufficient Detail about Activities
In determining how much detail to record in a CPD tracking sheet or other record, members should consider what information an auditor would need to understand what may have been learned and how that could be independently verified should the Quality Assurance Committee see a need to corroborate the reported activity.
For example, more information is required than the simple declaration that “supervision” or “reading” had occurred. If reporting credit for supervision, identifying the supervisee as well as the date and length of each meeting, as well a general description of the nature of the supervision, will make it easy to understand what had occurred. It would also facilitate verification should that be necessary. If reporting credit for reading, the name of the book or article, author, journal, as well as the web addresses and the length of time spent should all be recorded.
If using acronyms to record and report activities, consideration should be given to how widely known the acronym is. Although it may be expected that acronyms like “WISC” or “CBT” may be recognized by most within the profession, the full names of local associations, organizational committees and less widely known tools and techniques should be used.
Retaining and Providing Documentation of Activities
Documentation that verifies registration or attendance at an event or involvement in an activity should be collected, retained and provided in the event of an audit. This may include certificates of completion or, if certificates are not provided, registration documents or program agendas. Correspondence confirming events like Committee meetings, Professional Interest Groups or Grand Rounds would also be acceptable.
Documenting Relevance to Professional Ethics
The content of at least 10 of the 50 mandatory credits reported must be focused on the ethical practice of psychology.
Unless the name of the activity makes it clear that the activity related directly to professional ethics, it is recommended that a note be made explaining how the activity satisfied this requirement. This could then be provided in the event of an audit. While there would be no need to explain the relevance of workshop titles like “Informed Consent with Children in Care” or “Developments in Privacy Legislation”, it would be necessary to explain how, for example, a webinar about scoring a new test would satisfy this requirement.
Members are encouraged to keep these issues in mind throughout each CPD cycle as this will provide ease of reference and reporting in the event one is selected for an audit. As well, it is hoped that this information will help in the planning and monitoring of an effective CPD plan that will assist in filling identified gaps in knowledge and experience and ensure preparation for best practice.