The worlds of health and education are forever evolving. All professionals governed by a regulatory body are required to undertake continuing professional development as part of their registration.
Attending training courses on an area of clinical/ professional interest is one obvious way of getting those CPD hours under your belt. However, courses can be expensive and attending them eats into the time you could be supporting your clients. This is a significant consideration when deciding upon attending a course, especially if you are a sole trader in independent practice. You may simply not be able to afford the time or money to attend multiple courses in a year.
And of course, although we make no argument against the value of courses, attending a course alone does not make you an expert. Only many more hours of self-study, practice of the approach, and professional supervision can do that.
According the Health Care and Professions Council (HCPC) ‘CPD activities must include a mixture of different types of learning’ of which ‘self-directed study’ is one of the examples provided. Therefore, another convenient and time/ cost effective way of building up your CPD hours is through reading research articles in peer reviewed journals.
Obviously, just like attending lots of courses doesn’t, reading lots of journal articles while engaging in no other forms of CPD isn’t going to meet your professional body’s standards either. What we’re saying is that reading journal articles should definitely be a regular part of your CPD. Just remember to ensure what you’re reading is relevant to, and will enhance, your clinical practice - this is another requirement which separates CPD out from reading for personal interest.
Why regular article reading? Journals help you keep up with the latest research and also fill in any gaps that might be needed to pad out what you’ve learned elsewhere. Research articles can provide ideas of what to try to add into your practice, whether that be one specific strategy, a whole intervention or advice you give to clients and other professionals you work with. And, reading them can be done in the convenience of your home or clinic at a time set-aside and planned for entirely by you.
The problem is that if you’re no longer a student, accessing journals can also be costly. Again, if you’re a sole trader and/ or independent practitioner with lots of other financial overheads, a journal subscription may not be the first thing on your list of priorities. If it is you’ll understandably focus in on only one or two journals that you see as obviously relevant to your specific profession. However, there’s lots of research in other professional areas that may be equally valuable to your clinical practice. We feel that our clients are best viewed holistically rather than from just one specific focus.
Of course, there’s an argument you can always find some open access (free) journal articles on a Google search. However, what’s available for free on the internet may not be what you’re specifically looking for (and therefore may not be relevant to, or guide, your practice). And it may not always be up to date (but see the information at the bottom of the article on how to find some free, up to date research). Up to date information is one of the keys to good CPD.
These are the reasons we’ve decided to offer an institutional journal subscription as part of your membership with the Allied Health and Therapy Network. We’re starting off small by providing access to a few journals which mostly have a multidisciplinary focus and which aren't available via open access. As we grow we’ll be adding more. We intend to cover all the professional groups we have on board, especially if there are not many open access options in a certain field. As members of our multi-disciplinary membership community, you’ll always have access to all of the journals we subscribe to.
But, just having access to journals isn’t all we want you to think about. We encourage you to ask yourself this further question: is reading an article alone enough to constitute CPD? We think that you should do a little more than just read. Your CPD should include reflective practice.
A good way of achieving a deeper understanding of what you read is by using the SQ3R method. Although this Youtube clip (24) Reading Actively With the SQ3R Method - YouTube is aimed at students, it’s equally applicable to adult, self-directed learners.
Once you’ve read the journal article, remember to log your activity and hours into your CPD diary. As part of your log, reflect upon how it broadened your understanding of the topic you were reading about and how you’re going to apply it in your practice. The online CPD Diary we're providing as part of your membership is already formatted for you in a way that will help you complete your CPD log in a manner ready for audit.
Even better, once you've reflected on the article you've read, why not share your reflections with your wider team or community? That constitutes CPD too! If you don't have a large work team, reach out to one or more of AHTNetwork's other members using our find a therapist search function - and form a network. That's what we're here for! Begin making those connections with other professionals that we see as so important to each of us delivering the best service we possibly can for our clients. Maybe this will be the start of a collaborative journey for you with one or more of AHTNetwork’s other members.
So, why not head into the members area and check out what we’ve subscribed to so far. We’ve tried to subscribe to journals which are relevant to multiple professional groups and some that have a focus on providing practical tips and ideas that you can add into your professional practice.
You can access our journal subscription in the clinical hub, found in the AHTNetwork member’s area.
If you have any areas you’d like us to consider when we add the next batch of journals to our subscription, we’d love to hear your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, what is open access? Open access is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research is distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers.
Science Direct, part of the Elsevier Publishing group offers a large range of journals both paid for and through open access. You can join up Science Direct for free and they will regularly send you a list of publications relevant to your search history.
We've found the following relevant journals in their catalogue that are either offered completely via open access or as 'contains open access' ( = some articles per publication):
Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy (contains open access)
Clinical Nutrition (contains open access)
Complementary Therapies in Medicine (contains open access)
Human Factors in Healthcare (open access)
Human Nutrition and Metabolism (open access)
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (contains open access)
Journal of Communication Disorders (contains open access)
Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (contains open access)
Journal of Fluency Disorders (contains open access)
Journal of Paediatric Healthcare (contains open access)
Journal of Physiotherapy (open access)
Musculoskeletal Science and Practice (contains open access)
Physiotherapy (contains open access)