European Centre of Excellence for Research into Continuing Professional Development

28 November 2019

Blog by Professor Thomas Kearns, European Centre of Excellence for Research into Continuing Professional Development, Executive Director, RCSI Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

I have always felt that a strong commitment to lifelong learning is critical to maintaining our professionalism. In an ever-changing health system, it is essential to maintain an effective and skilled workforce. As part of our commitment to continuing professional development (CPD), health professionals are continuously acquiring new knowledge, skills and attitudes to practice safely and competently which is necessary in order to deliver high quality patient care.

Current research suggests that the existing CPD activities that we regularly participate in, lack effectiveness and there is a general failure of these activities to produce meaningful long-term change in the behaviours and attitudes of healthcare professionals and improvements in healthcare outcomes. Research studies investigating the impact of CPD activities such as conferences, lectures and meetings have consistently found that they have minimal impact on improving professional practice, healthcare outcomes and patient safety. There is a paucity of research examining the impact that current CPD activities have on clinical performance and in particular, how it affects patient safety and healthcare outcomes.

With increasing cross-border mobility of health professionals in Europe we need to promote strategies that ensure CPD supports health professionals to deliver quality people-centered health care. This can be achieved by exploring CPD activities that encourage behaviour change and promote patient safety and improve healthcare outcomes.

The European Centre of Excellence for Research into Continuing Professional Development with its headquarters at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland has been recently established, with the aim of developing a pan-European network of researchers, clinicians, regulators and professional bodies to advance the science of CPD through research and foster knowledge exchange that will promote best practices in CPD that can be translated across Europe. The official launch of the Centre will take place at the 39th Annual International Nursing & Midwifery Research and Education Conference on the 26 of February 2020.

Currently the Centre has members from the following 20 countries: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, UK, and USA. Members of the Centre are from a variety of backgrounds including academia, regulation and professional associations. The objectives of the Centre of Excellence are to:

  • Fostering knowledge exchange and development of a joint research agenda – coordinating efforts to develop an understanding of the impact of current CPD activities on patient health outcomes and patient safety
  • To develop a common understanding of what CPD means at a European level to guide the development of future standards for CPD
  • Advance our understanding of the economic impact of CPD to inform the development of effective sustainable and cost-effective CPD activities, that impact patient safety and outcomes
  • Act as a platform to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement
  • Enable access to a global network of researchers, clinicians and advocacy groups in the field of CPD.

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