The Importance and Benefits of a Continuing Professional Development ( CPD ) Portfolio.

15 Feb 2014 11:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Importance and Benefits of a Continuing Professional Development ( CPD ) Portfolio.
Rosalie Marsh

As a passionate follower and practitioner of personal and professional development records for many years, I feel I am in a position to share my own perspective.

As a health and social care professional – at whatever level – you may well be required to maintain a record of your development for continuing competence purposes. As a busy person, you will probably struggle to find time to do this. Indeed, you may struggle to complete these records in much detail at all.

So “what do you know about it?” you may well ask.‘As with many things in life, it is not enough to declare that you can do this or that. You have to have some proof or evidence that you can actually do something; that you have actually done what you claim to have done.’ (Marsh 2011 P1.) 

My ethos is that everyone should be able to release and realise their potential in whatever way that is. Before we were born, all our attributes were set into the pattern of our character. All our potential skills and qualities were there in that cluster of unique cells, which make us what we are, or could be. We are made up of many facets, which grow and develop at different times of our life. Like a flower, we start with nurturing, food, warmth, and shelter, until we gradually unfold until we come into full bloom before fading and dying. This is the cycle of life.

You own development as a person in both your personal and professional life – and these two aspects are intertwined – continues throughout your life. It doesn’t end when you leave school with sufficient exams or a degree to get you into the profession of your dreams.

As with most professions, you have to keep on top of new developments, legislation, practice, and procedures. With more people needing care at a personal level out in the community and in hospitals, this has never been more essential in your own sector. Your own organisation or department will no doubt keep a record of any training courses, which you have attended as part of your required hours of up skilling. You may be required to complete a feedback form at the end of these training courses to state what you got out of the course etc. This document will no doubt be kept on your personal file in the Human Resources department. Copies of any certificates will no doubt also be kept on your file. This is excellent.

But wait! You have moved to a new job in a new organisation. How can you access these files? A few years down the line, you may be asked for proof of the courses you have attended or how committed you are to the job. This is where your own personal professional development portfolio comes in.
  • It is an umbrella, which encompasses all your development throughout your working life.
  • It contains actual living proof that you have taken control of your own personal and professional development.
  • It will impress your immediate superiors at your annual review; a prospective employer at interview; an interviewer if you are going for promotion. It will demonstrate that you are focussed on developing and achieving to the best level you can.
  • It will demonstrate that you are looking upwards to where you can go. That you want to be a winner.
I was given the opportunity to undertake management qualifications at quite a late stage in my life. As part of the course, I sat with my tutor for a review. A ‘Taking Stock’ kind of review as well as a review of the module where my overall progress was discussed and new targets set with an agreed completion date for these activities. Later, as I moved into Further Education in the Work-Based Learning (WBL) area, I, along with the rest of my department, was introduced to the concept of a CPD portfolio. We were informed that eventually all prospective employers would require candidates for a job to be able to present one at interview. (I actually came across this a few years hence when I helped one of my management candidates who worked for a utility company to construct his portfolio prior to interview for promotion where he had to take along a CPD portfolio. He got the job by the way!)

As the years rolled on and I undertook a variety of academic, technical, and vocational programmes, I found my portfolio invaluable. As a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD – formerly IPD) I had access to their software for completing somewhat very in-depth CPD records. Although the tutor for each course held a review for their own records, my own CPD records went much further, wider, and deeper. I was not only documenting and giving feedback on what I had done, I was looking at what I as a person wanted to achieve.

I had to look at where I wanted to be in 1yr, 5yrs, and horror of horrors, even 10yrs. By keeping a focus – taking stock/reviewing my own learning and development every six months and re-setting targets, I actually did what I had planned to do.
  • At annual reviews, I was able to demonstrate my commitment to my own growth and that of my department. My reviewer actually found my records facilitated him/her in completing the review forms.
  • At interviews for promotion, I had a clear picture of my achievements. 
  • My CPD records helped me to keep my CV up-to-date and complete application forms in a timely manner – especially when the closing date was close.
Many have to scrabble to gather all relevant information. Does this sound familiar?

I said earlier that my ethos is that everyone should be able to release and realise their potential in whatever way that is. To do this you need opportunity and access and above all, a plan, which gives a focus on goals. Not solely in your job but personal life. Activities in your personal life can develop aspects of your character which in turn can have a positive impact on how you do your job.
  • As a professional in the health and social care sector, it is essential that you have a clear picture of what you know now and what you need to know in order to achieve your goals. 
  • You must follow the process of personal and professional development. 
  • You need to identify what you know now and need to know in order to achieve.
  • You need to identify what opportunities you have.
  • You need to identify what threats will stop you achieving your goals.
  • You must constantly do and review and set clear targets for each milestone along the way.
  • You need to keep your CV up to date.
  • You need to manage stress.
  • You need to manage your time and schedule in your learning programme. 
  • You need to record not only what you have learned, but also what you have learned from the learning experience. How you as a person have changed. How will you use the learning?
  • You need to set new targets if you did not meet the last one.
In this way, you will get to where you want to go. It might not be a formal learning experience/training course. That doesn’t matter. (What about that department meeting? A difficult and challenging case that you dealt with?) All learning counts. No learning is ever wasted. Your goal may be a long-held dream.

When I was interviewing mature learners for my dissertation some years ago, one said to me: “If you believe, if you really believe that you can do something, you can do it!” (Marsh.2011)

One last thought. In 1609 Jan Van Comenius writing in Pampaedia wrote:“The whole of a person’s life is a school for everyone, from the cradle to the grave. . nor is a person given other goals in learning than in life itself. . . .

Rosalie Marsh
Award-Winning Author, Speaker, Learning and Development Consultant.
BA(Hons) Professional Studies in Education, LCGI, T.Cert.
©Rosalie Marsh 2014

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