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Continuing Professional Development Plan

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an important part of every professional’s life, at whatever career stage, and the plan is a vital document in effective CPD. The objective of the plan is to provide a concise summary of your identified development needs and how they will be met during the next year.

Longer term aims can be included but it is generally best to break them down into a series of intermediate, shorter term, objectives that build-up to the eventual goal.These objectives need not necessarily be work-related or even logistics and transport-related. Since this is continuing professional development there ought to be some identifiable relevance to professional life, but that might not be the primary reason (e.g. learning to do something new on a computer, speak Spanish, or improve your written communication skills). Objectives don’t have to be learning-related either; they can include things like getting a new job or taking part in the Milo Marathon.

There are other many types of activities which can count as Professional Development, such as:

  1. Courses, conferences and seminars
  2. Organised visits
  3. Writing articles and papers
  4. Professional Institutional committee work
  5. Institutes technical meeting
  6. Secondments and exchanges
  7. Further education
  8. Distance or open learning
  9. On the job learning
  10. Occasional lecturing

The number of objectives for a year obviously varies between one and infinity but, staying in the realms of practicality; a reasonable number would be anything between one and six depending on the complexity. As a general rule the single side of paper provided here should give ample space for any CPD plan.

What do I want to achieve?
If you already have objectives in mind then so far, so good. If you don’t, then a good way of looking at this is to complete a profile of your current skills and future needs in the form of a personal SWOT analysis considering your strengths, weakness and any future opportunities or threats. You can use notes from your last appraisal at work, your CV or a job description to make this easier for you.

Make sure your objectives are SMART ones:

  1. Specific-objectives should specify exactly what you want to achieve.
  2. Measurable-you should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not.
  3. Achievable-the objectives you set must be attainable by you within the time-scale chosen.
  4. Realistic-the objectives must be able to be reached with the resources you have.
  5. Time-related-there must be a target date for achievement of the set objectives.

Unless your objectives are SMART ones, they may well lack focus, be too ambitious (or not ambitious enough) and meander on forever without coming to an effective conclusion.

How am I going to achieve this?
Having identified objectives, decide how you are going to achieve them. The method you choose should be appropriate to the objective. Ask yourself questions like: Where do I learn best? What support materials do I prefer to use? How do I learn best? What level of competence do I want to reach?

How will I judge my success?
You must set some indicators of satisfactory achievement, or how else will you know when you have got there? This might be the achievement of some particular qualification, the ability to perform a certain task unaided or some other quantifiable outcome and relates the “measurable” aspect of SMART objectives.

Please click here to download cpd plan forms.

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