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Continuing professional development (CPD) has become integral to healthcare professionals in healthcare practice. Professionals, especially in healthcare have traditionally enjoyed relative autonomy in their practice which is currently being eroded to foster accountability in their actions (Hargreaves & Page, 2013). CPD programmes in healthcare settings are aimed at promoting lifelong learning of the healthcare professionals which improves the quality of care. Healthcare professionals are incessantly seeking knowledge about the modern technology and medication including taking into consideration the evidence that the profession is laid on. However, there are numerous debates about whether the impact of CPD on quality improvements relates to causality. Whereas professional practice in healthcare is guided by the prevailing principles of professional knowledge, in fact, it precipitates theory, which can best be undertaken in practice.
This paper focuses on reviewing the significance of continuing professional development in healthcare. It also highlights on how healthcare professionals should maintain CPD in order to deliver person-centered care. Hargreaves and Page (2013) debates that delivering person-centred care to patients in all healthcare settings improves the quality of care yielding better outcomes. Healthcare practitioners act as the link between scientific research knowledge and patients. The public trust is always on the healthcare professionals in providing safe, efficient, equitable and patient-centred care. CPD is an incessant process which progresses throughout the career ultimately safeguarding not only the public but also the professional's career. Continuing professional development is essential because it stimulates professional competence which enables healthcare professionals to deliver person-centered care.
The Importance of Continuing Professional Development for Healthcare Practitioners
According to Harris, Nagy and Vardaxis (2014), continuing professional development in healthcare is prevalently viewed as core to proficient activity for three major justifications: it fosters the advancement of professional status leading to ‘professional-building'; it enables individual practitioners to advance their specialisms and their careers; it reassures the recipients of health services through the improvement of the quality of services provided. In the constantly dynamic healthcare environment, there is a need for continuous ‘profession-building' because it leads to securing social status and the position of the healthcare profession. "A competency gap where growth in knowledge and the speed of technological change, plus the obsolescence of existing knowledge, means that the qualifying programme of professional education can no longer be seen as a career-long statement of professional competence," (Harris, Nagy & Vardaxis, 2014). Hence, healthcare professionals need to continuously develop themselves and the profession in its entirety so that patients can be confident about the professional capability of their service providers. For instance, psychotherapists are guided by standards of conduct, which necessitates them to carry out their practices safely and competently.
Besides, continuing professional development in healthcare is of great significance to healthcare practitioners in regard to their personal career enhancement. For example, traditionally, if a care practitioner desires to venture into the field of specialization, they are required to demonstrate their competence via a formal education programme. As a result, the effect has been intensified due to the increasing number of professionals such as nurses and psychotherapists moving to the graduate status, and faculties of health sciences now being absorbed into university level. Tollefson et al. (2015) postulates that CPD is helpful in developing skills for the healthcare practitioners' study and profession management, allows them to incorporate academic and personal progress and boost the capacity to re-evaluate their advancement against their goals. It also increases the effectiveness of their learning by changing the attitudes they have towards learning through-out for the better.
Also, continuing professional development ensures uninterruptible proficiency in the healthcare profession. It's also useful in that it helps in the protection of the employer, the public, and the employee. Continuing professional development helps healthcare practitioners to remain relevant to modern standards of service delivery. It provides ways of improving knowledge and skills basic in a professional service delivery (Forrester & Griffiths, 2014). CPD encourages relevancy since professionals get all the information on the changing trends in the profession. It helps in ensuring that practitioners make meaningful contributions to teams in care settings. Additionally, it helps the practitioner remain interested and interesting to their clients in order to deliver person-centred care. Continuing professional development also helps healthcare specialists to advance expertise within their profession.
Moreover, CPD is viewed to be of great importance due to connection with the improved quality of healthcare service delivery. In the healthcare setting, it is debated that patient safety can only be upheld if practitioners are dedicated to continually making up to date their knowledge as well as practice. According to Driscoll (2007), CPD is now not conceived to be merely an elective ‘add-on'; instead, it is a core requirement for healthcare professionals. Furthermore, this emphasizes the significance of practitioners in making sure that their professional advancement progresses well beyond the completion of basic qualifying education so that recipients of services are highly reassured that the services rendered to them are of high standards and quality (Nurse & Council, 2017).
Finally, according to Forrester and Griffith (2014), the issue of ‘New Consumerism" in healthcare poses a great concern for CPD and quality. For instance, the new labor reforms by the government focus on clinical effectiveness in delivering healthcare services. The reforms, in their review of statutes that govern healthcare professionals, are also focusing on ‘competence.' In this regard, recipients of healthcare services are more enthusiastic expressing their precise needs. Partially, this can be attributed to the fact that consumers of services acquire more information about issues, especially in regard to healthcare, and thus they confidently make their wishes are known, which calls for the need for continuing professional development.
How Maintaining CPD Assist Healthcare Professionals in Delivering Person-Centred Care
Person-centred care refers to a way of thinking as well as undertaking activities that make users of social and health services equal partners in designing, advancing and monitoring care to enable them to achieve their needs (Stein-Parbury, 2013). It entails putting individuals including their needs at the core of decision-making and perceiving them as specialists, partnering with experts to deliver the desired results. Person-centred care also involves considering individual needs, social conditions and circumstances, values including lifestyle; and working collaboratively with individuals to come up with appropriate solutions. Stein-Parbury (2013) claims that professionals who offer this service must be compassionate, must have sympathy as well as respecting all individuals in society, and these aspects can be achieved through continuing professional development. This can be revealed via involvement of patients in decision-making, helping individuals manage their health status but not just activities. It entirely involves the manner in which these professionals, as well as patients, think about their relationships and care to be the actual services available.
For person-centred care to take place, services ought to be more dynamic in order to enable people to meet their needs in the best way (Willis, Reynolds & Keleher, 2016). This needs collaboratively working with their families to come up with the best way of care provision. The collaborative working can only be effective if service providers (healthcare professionals) constantly embrace CPD. Willis, Reynolds and Keleher (2016) maintains that through CPD, professionals will be able to understand that person-centred care is all about working with the people rather than working for the people. Driscoll (2007) elucidates that person-centred care has got numerous definitions which includes: user-centred, patient-centred among others. The various aspects of person-centred care attained via CPD include: regarding individuals' values and placing them at the core, considering people's preferences as well as expressed desires, managing and incorporating care, as well as working collaboratively to ensure efficient communication. (Trede et al., 2012).
Continuing professional development stimulates improved person-centred care work which in turn influences all aspects of social care work in various ways (McMurray & Clendon, 2015). To start with, it promotes a high-quality healthcare which will impact people's lives by improving the standards of available services, assisting individuals to acquire their desired needs, helping individuals become more active by taking good care of themselves, as well as reducing some challenges that are encountered on health and social service provision. For instance, in Australia, the demand for health services is augmenting despite the scarcity of resources available (Jarvis, 2015). People stay longer with many health conditions as they approach aging. Research reveals that person-centred care, which is a product of CPD, aids in the advancement of individuals' health as well as reducing the problem on health services, hence government policies are laying emphasis on the need to strengthen the voice of patients and parting from the paternalistic model whereby specialists do things to people. Moreover, person-centred care stimulated by CPD can improve quality of care in the following ways: it enhances people's experience and aid them to feel more satisfied, it motivates people to live a more healthy lifestyle, promotes people's participation in decision –making, reduces the general costs involved in care as well as improving professional's confidence about service provision.
Furthermore, CPD helps healthcare practitioners to come up with actions and approaches in responding to individual's changing needs and preferences. According to Levett-Jones (2015), person-centred care entails fortifying people to express their feelings and change their perspectives when they want. It is vital for practitioners to spend time talking about their needs and wishes. This may entail working with an advocate to express individual needs on their behalf since they are unable to express this by themselves. The best mechanism in assisting them to respond in accordance with their needs and preferences is via embracing communication with them while using the language that they can best understand. Their relatives and friends give enough information regarding their resident and this makes communication easier. Healthcare givers can also respond to individuals' changing needs by giving the patients the necessary support may it be financial or emotional. They can also provide the necessary information to enable the patient make informed choices in regard to priority (Trede et al., 2012).
Deductively, continuing professional development is essential in stimulating professional competence which enables healthcare professionals to deliver person-centered care. It entails an incessant process which progresses throughout the career of a healthcare profession, ultimately safeguarding not only the public but also the professional's career via improved quality of care services. CPD promotes person-centred care which involves considering individual needs, social conditions and circumstances, values including lifestyle; and working collaboratively with individuals to come up with appropriate solutions. Through CPD, professionals will be able to understand that person-centred care is all about working with the people rather than working for the people. Therefore, healthcare professionals should continually embrace CPD in their practice in order to deliver person-centred care which improves quality and outcome of healthcare services.
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