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First things first: getting started with CPD

CPD flyer

In a monthly post for this blog, COT’s Education Manager—Lifelong Learning, Zoe Parker, will be discussing all things CPD. For her first post, Zoe tells us about herself and explores the fundamentals of Continuing Professional Development. 


It’s too exciting being faced with the metaphorical blank white page of a new blog! I have been longing to blog for about three or four years now—here’s my opportunity … so what on earth do I really want to say?

I think I can start by saying what my hopes and dreams are for this blog. I want to start a conversation with members where we learn together and I get some insight into how to do my job better. All views and prejudices will be my own and please forgive me in advance if I miss some crucial point completely. I have been learning about OT for more than seven years now and it certainly doesn’t look likely that I will ever do more than scratch the surface of such a richly fascinating field. My aim is to post things that start real conversations; so please do comment, whether it’s to argue the toss with me or to confirm an idea from your own point of view.

Firstly, a bit of a biography: I originally studied English Literature and Psychology as I was (and remain) fascinated by what makes people tick. My psychology background provided training in empirical research and I discovered a surprising fondness for statistical analysis. I shifted paradigms (huge learning curve!) to educational action research and worked as a research assistant and then lecturer in education with students who were training to be teachers, or who were experienced professionals from many walks of life (education, social work, police force, medicine) and wanted to improve their practice in line with their values.

Let’s unpack my job title a bit: Education Manager—Lifelong Learning. I usually summarise this in simpler terms as “the CPD person at COT”. My job is to devise and develop ways and resources to support members with their lifelong learning. I’m always interested in hearing from members what they feel I could do to do this more effectively.

The heart of my job is talking to BAOT members about their careers, hopes, barriers to success and struggles (both inner ones, with themselves and lack of confidence or morale, and outer ones with the system they work within and perhaps even with their managers). When I enjoy my job most is when someone says to me that I have inspired them to keep going, to find a way through the difficulties and to have the confidence to keep believing in their own insights and perceptions.

The baseline for all practising OTs is to meet the HCPC standards for CPD:


What do these standards mean to you? I would be fascinated to hear more about how people use them every day to promote learning and to improve outcomes for service users. It has been thrilling to work with committed OTs to hone their profiles for audit and it has made me wish more people were ready for audit and not panicked by it. Several members have suggested that they would benefit from an example of a profile that has been successfully audited, which we are currently preparing for a forthcoming issue of OT News.

In the meantime, please do share with me your thoughts on your approach to CPD, as well as your suggestions for topics that you would like me to focus on in future blog posts.


12 thoughts on “First things first: getting started with CPD

  1. This is a really nice introduction to your role Zoe, I think that your blogs will be helpful for students who are building their CPD at University.

    Posted by COT Education Intern | February 3, 2014, 16:23
  2. Great start to a blog Zoe, interesting to hear where you can form, i am currently updating a presentation about using twitter and social media as a CPD tool and will add this blog to the resource part.

    My awareness and involvements in CPD has dramatically changed over the pass few year, I’m activity trying to keep a continues and up to date, CPD as required by the HCPC, rather than a quick few reflections just before appraisal time.

    I tend to try and print off things I think would be relevant and place in my PDP file, I have started to use the free TRAMm CPD tools which I’m finding useful to keep everything up to date.
    I have been hearing a bit about e portfolios, as in this day and age where a large % of my CPD is done online in twitter, or write up on a laptop and CPD events have began to email certificates, I’m keen to look in to how I can maintain an e CPD portfolio. Any ideas

    Posted by otrach | February 3, 2014, 17:13
    • Hi I have just read this and thought I might be able to help. I really struggle keeping a paper portfolio upto date and presentable, so I have start uses an online portfolio which does cost a monthly fee of around £6 but it really helps me keep upto date.

      It is called cpdol and designed specifically for OT’s. It has a really good resource page you can tap into as well.

      Posted by Helen | February 4, 2014, 22:25
  3. Hi Zoe, great start to your blogging career!

    The best thing that ever happened to me re: CPD was being selected for audit by HCPC just as I was going off on mat leave. This meant that I could defer for two years (whew!). But I also knew that I would definitely be selected when the next audit cycle came round again. This forced me to get to grips with the HCPC standards and use them to structure my CPD well in advance. A real blessing in disguise.

    I found that I really like the HCPC format for a portfolio (or my interpretation of it anyway!) They provide a guide to the range of activities that a portfolio could/should contain that I can use as a checklist. They ask for a simple list of all CPD activities undertaken in the past two years which is really straightforward to start and maintain. And then they ask for a more detailed write-up of the best or most representative activities to showcase the breadth and quality of my professional development and/or the benefits to my service users.

    This format suits me.

    Firstly, it means I have autonomy over how I organise and record my professional development so that it works for me – not in one single ringbinder portfolio or using a template devised and imposed by someone else, but in a mix of various online and offline resources I can always track down because they’re referenced to my CPD list.

    And secondly, I can decide what activities to disclose in detail to supervisors/employers/interview panels/audit committees etc – I always had issues with the assumption I’d encountered in some places that they should have total access to everything in my CPD portfolio. How could I be totally honest and reflective about weaknesses, failures, idiotic thoughts, or serious mistakes if there was a risk that that would be the one page they’d choose to read in detail?

    Before being selected for audit (and being lucky enough to be able to defer), my CPD was just firing appraisals, certificates and an occasional reflection into a folder. Now I find it’s a really active and valuable process that I’m continuing naturally, even though I’ve been audited, passed, and hopefully won’t have to submit anything again for a while.

    An example audit profile in OT News will be really valuable I think, as are the example profiles for OTs and for other professions – they’re just as useful – on the HCPC website. And it would be particularly useful to give us example audit profiles for OTs working in non-trad/role-emerging practice.

    Posted by Katie | February 3, 2014, 20:42
    • Katie – thank you for the lovely long, thoughtful comment. I am so pleased that you echo the positivity I have met with from OTs who have had their CPD audited by the HCPC. It can be a great opportunity to celebrate achievement.

      Every single person says that they panicked at first but when they had completed the profile and had it approved they felt really pleased. Not so much pleased by HCPC as they don’t give you much feedback, but pleased to be made to review just how much they had learned over the two years.

      You are the folk who come to know the standards inside out and your kind of post is real reassurance ‘from the horses’s mouth’ (where on earth does that saying actually come from BTW – does anybody know?).

      The only bit I don’t like so much is your deferral as I really don’t encourage it. There’s nothing to lose by submitting and then making the improvements that HCPC suggest (if any). Most people are ready but feel a bit nervous when first asked. There’s loads of help on iLOD and there’s me as well as a resource. Some people talk through ideas with me and send me the draft before submitting – some people check it with a friend. Now that we’ve been through three rounds there’s not the same fear of the unknown that we all had at the beginning.

      I think the most important point you make is about your ownership of the whole portfolio and choice of what extracts to share. It’s vital that there’s a safe space to reflect and put all your ideas, thoughts and feelings. I recommend a private diary or journal as it’s an invaluable way to show yourself your learning as you go along. It stops thoughts going round in your head and problems/issues remaining unresolved.

      Thank you so much Katie for helping to get me off to a good start with such a useful post.

      Posted by Zoe Parker (@cotcpd) | February 4, 2014, 10:28
    • Hello, please could you tell me in which copy of OT News is the example HCPC audit profile? Regards, Natasha

      Posted by Natasha | July 18, 2015, 22:30
  4. Thank you for your comments Anna (COT Education intern) and Rachel. Yes – Anna – students can lay the foundations for career-long good habits and use CPD to develop and cherish an OT identity. Rachel – there’s a free tool called “folio for me” http://foliofor.me/ here (it uses Mahara for any geeks who’d like to know)

    Posted by Zoe Parker (@cotcpd) | February 4, 2014, 09:32
  5. Hi Zoe – very interesting blog. I look forward to continuing to read it. Some of the ideas for online portfolios look very useful and I’ll be looking into those too… Interestingly, my own CPD recently comes from having qualified in equine assisted therapy and so I think I can help you with your query about the term ‘from the horse’s mouth’! It comes from the practice of ageing a horse by checking its teeth and so rather than taking someone’s word for the age of the horse, you check directly and get it ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’. So now you know!

    Posted by Fiona | February 10, 2014, 14:35
  6. That’s brilliant Fiona – I should have thought of that. Can you email me as there’s something I’d like to ask you about more privately? Sorry to be soooo slow answering you BTW, just getting the hang of all this – so many communication channels – so little time to keep on top of them…I should learn to be more vigilant as the blog seems to generate more comments than my (admittedly very rare) Facebook posts.

    Posted by Zoe Parker (@cotcpd) | February 18, 2014, 11:14
  7. hello i qualified last uear and started working in march this year, could someone advise me whether i can be called for audit this month? Or is there a timescale in which you can not be called?
    Many thanks

    Posted by Justine baker | August 4, 2015, 10:55
    • Occupational therapists must have practised for two years and been on the register for two years before they can be chosen for audit. Audit profiles are requested in the first few days of August.

      Posted by baotcot | October 5, 2015, 11:32

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