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CONTINUING professional development (CPD) is an obligation which is accepted by a broad spectrum of professions. Precise definitions of CPD vary, but all encompass an expectation of maintaining and developing knowledge and skills throughout the course of a working life. Society clearly benefits from knowledgeable, skilled and up-to-date groups, including the veterinary profession. More specific benefits to human and animal welfare and safety are also implicit in effective CPD across the healthcare professions.
The question which has exercised many over the past decade relates to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of CPD. It is important for participants to use their time and other resources wisely if they wish to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills. It is critical to CPD providers that opportunities meet the needs of participants. Finally, it is pertinent for regulatory bodies to consider how the effectiveness of CPD may be measured and, in particular, the impact or otherwise of CPD on the attitudes and behaviours of participants.
Dearing's report on higher education (1997) emphasised the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own development and learning. In contrast to children, adults have an existing base of knowledge and experience on which to build. Furthermore, adults are likely to wish to obtain knowledge or acquire skills which can be immediately applied to relevant problems (Knowles 1980). As each adult has a unique combination of knowledge, …