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The value of CPD

As a chiropractor, I have always valued the professional development gained from my CPD learning. Expanding my knowledge and skills keeps me motivated and engaged in the chiropractic profession.

I’m always on the lookout for opportunities for professional development. I’ve found that listening to podcasts is a great way to identify and expand areas of interest. Twitter is also a good resource for discovering interesting papers that are relevant to my areas of interest. If you follow the right people, Twitter can be a really useful platform.

Making time for professional development

I do sympathise with registrants who struggle to find the time for their CPD however, it is possible to fit in the requirements around a busy working schedule. I try to maximise my time as much as possible - whether that’s listening to podcasts in the car on my way to work or reading papers during my lunch break. CPD can have such an impact on the quality and effectiveness of patient care. It really is important to make time. 

Improving patient outcomes

When I graduated in 2009, much of my CPD focus was around improving my manual therapy skills. As I’ve become more experienced and my knowledge and skills have progressed, I’ve started to recognise the importance of other aspects within the patient encounter and the psycho-social elements of the biopsychosocial model.

Chiropractors are primarily known for manual therapy. When a patient visits a chiropractor, they tend to expect some form of manipulation or mobilisation. However, to better improve patient outcomes in the longer term we need, in my view, to identify psycho-social aspects and address these within our patient encounters. 

Through CPD I’ve learnt techniques such as motivational interviewing to help better facilitate behavioural changes. Research shows that lifestyle behaviours, such as levels of physical activity, smoking and diet, can all impact on MSK conditions. Thanks to these techniques, I feel more confident and better equipped to approach these issues with patients and, to date, I have received a positive response.

Learning from other health professionals

CPD provides a welcome opportunity to engage with other chiropractors but also, importantly, with other health professionals. This is how I’m able to keep abreast with what’s going on in the profession. By looking outside of chiropractic, I learn about other options that can also be of benefit to my patients.

The benefits to patients are clear. I recently took part in a CPD session around inflammatory arthritis and specifically, how to identify patients with Axial Spondyloarthritis (AS) (previously referred to as ankylosing spondylitis). The average length of diagnosis for this condition is about eight years. However, faster diagnosis will enable people to get the right care earlier and start living well with AS sooner. The course outlined the specific symptoms to look out for in order to identify this condition. Importantly, there was also advice on how to word referral letters to GPs which was extremely helpful. 

As a result, I have been able to help more patients with this condition get referred to a rheumatologist and diagnosed sooner. It has improved my relationships with local GPs who now have a greater understanding and knowledge about how chiropractors can help to co-manage and support their patients with AS.

Undoubtedly, cost can sometimes be a barrier to professional development but there are often good learning opportunities that are free. In my local area, an orthopaedic surgeon holds free CPD days each year which are not only valuable in improving knowledge but also for building relationships with other health professionals.

The value of CPD should not be overlooked. Our profession should always be focused on delivering the highest standards of care for our patients. To achieve this, we all need to be continually developing our skills and knowledge.

Mark Jessop is a chiropractor who runs Prime Therapy Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic based in Grantham.


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