Paramedics work in a variety of settings and deal with all aspects of emergency and social care, ranging from acute problems such as cardiac arrest, strokes, major trauma, to urgent problems such as minor illness and injury. This brief article will outline CPD for Paramedics, the HCPC body requirements, as well as explain how to plan for effective CPD.
CPD in the Emergency Industry
People working in the health and social care workforce operate in a changing, challenging and complex environment. Paramedics are registered healthcare professionals who have a unique role that crosses healthcare, public health, social care and public safety.
Paramedics provide an immediate response to accidents and medical emergencies and are trained in all aspects of prehospital emergency care. Keeping skills and knowledge up to date in order to operate safely and effectively, both now and in the future is therefore essential.
Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is defined as ‘a wide range of learning activities through which professionals maintain and develop throughout their career to ensure that they retain their capacity to practice safely, effectively and legally within their evolving scope of practice’.
All registered paramedics are expected to maintain evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as part of their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. Competence to continue practicing by extending skills should be documented and reviewed in an annual work-based appraisal in order to uphold the highest standard of care, and to safeguard the patient, practitioner and employer.
What are the different types of CPD for Paramedics?
Effective CPD should develop new knowledge and skills, add to your existing skills, and provide opportunities to initiate and reinforce best practice. Fundamentally CPD in ambulance and emergency services is about producing improved, competent practitioners to benefit overall patient care. It is both a practice of doing and of recording. CPD for paramedics covers a mix of training types to ensure a broad scope of practice. Examples include:
Formal/ Structured CPD
- Attending conferences and seminars
- Further Education
- Distance Learning
- Undertaking research
- Writing for books, journals or web content
- Keeping a file of your progress
- Reading articles / journals
- Reviewing books / journals
- Voluntary work
College of Paramedics CPD requirements
Once qualified, paramedics often join the College of Paramedics. The College of Paramedics is the professional body for paramedics in the United Kingdom, leading the development of the profession across a wide range of health and care settings. They aim to promote excellence in paramedic practice by offering and supporting professional development opportunities and lifelong learning wherever paramedics practice.
Registered paramedics have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual CPD (Continuing Professional Development). The five principles are that CPD and Lifelong Learning should;
- benefit the service users
- improve the quality of service delivery
- be each person’s responsibility and be made possible and supported by your employer
- be balanced and relevant to each person’s area of practice or employment
- be recorded and show the effect on each person’s area of practice
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
All paramedics, whether working in the NHS, private or voluntary sectors must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC sets standards for professional education, training and practice. Paramedics are required to abide by professional registration standards including the maintenance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
As well as setting standards, the HCPC keep a register of professionals, known as 'registrants'. To remain on the register, paramedics must be able to demonstrate that they continue to meet these standards and are required to renew their registration with the HCPC every two years, in order to continue to practice.
Paramedics must maintain and submit their portfolio of evidence to the Health & Care Professionals Council. Around 2.5% of registrants will be audited to check that they have, in fact, undertaken CPD, kept a record of it and meet the requirements. Technicians and ECAs do not have a regulating body that requires CPD, however, in order to develop within your role, it is vital to learn from your practices and a record of professional development can and should be kept.