Establishing the Life-Long Learning Components of Continuing Professional Development

Establishing the Life-Long Learning Components of Continuing Professional Development

Michael D. Hamlin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6756-5.ch001
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The term continuous professional development (CPD) has come to signify a change in traditional continuing medical education (CME). The transition from CME to CPD has been driven by changes in the healthcare environment that will require changes in the content, delivery modes, and teaching techniques used to educate physicians and other healthcare providers. This chapter will describe work in the learning sciences that delineate life-long learning skills and provide guidance to designers and instructors of CPD on what may be for many a new perspective on learning that is different from methods used in traditional CME courses. It is the perspective of this chapter that the fundamentally different nature of CPD learning needed to address the constant acceleration of changes in health knowledge will force learners to develop a more active and self-directed learning style and that CPD will need to shift from traditional instructional settings and this shift will require that the design of CPD offerings address and include more active and sophisticated learning strategies.
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Describing the components of an evolving Continuous Professional Development (CPD) system, Felipe and her colleagues (Felipe, Golnik & Mack, 2018; Aboulsoud & Filipe, 2019) used the acronym SCAR to highlight the fact that the approach needed to advance continuous professional development must be systematic, comprehensive, follow adult learning principles and be well regulated. The principles enumerated by SCAR define a new way to characterize continuous professional development in the health professions that requires learners to develop, monitor and evaluate a continuous personal development plan that guides the development of a broad range of knowledge and skills needed to meet the changing nature of health care. Felipe and her colleagues also stress the need for CPD to address adult and life-long learning principles and move away from current teaching and assessment techniques that focus in on fine-grained or elementary competencies. Instead, CPD should be focused on the development of professional competencies that require instruction and assessment methods delivered in in multiple learning environments encompassing a diverse set of patient care situations.

New forms of instruction and instructional environments will be needed to deliver CPD that addresses and requires lifelong learning skills. For instance, it is likely that online learning and other technology-driven instructional formats will become a significant part of the new forms of CPD (Hamlin, 2020; Badyal, Gupta & Singh, 2016; Mahajan et al., 2016). These new learning modalities will require the development of new learning mindsets, strategic learning methods, and a more flexible learning style to meet the changing tempo of healthcare changes (Hamlin, 2022). Given the busy lives of most people and the important task of updating professional skills, online learning will become an increasingly important method for staying current in one’s field. New learning modalities for CPD will bring opportunities and challenges to the lifelong learner and dictate that they develop a repertoire of self-directed learning skills.

This chapter will focus on one aspect of SCAR which is the lifelong learning skills of health professionals and the techniques that can promote lifelong learning. First, this chapter will examine attempts to define the components of life-long learning. Then strategies for developing life-long learning skills will be described, Finally, there will be a description of a design model that supports the formation of life-long learning skills that produce professional practice competence. To achieve this purpose this chapter will address the following questions:

  • What skills, knowledge and behaviors have been identified as components of life-long learning?

  • What are the pedagogical elements that are essential to the development of life-long learning skills for professional competence?

  • How are these elements best combined to guide the development of a learning model and system centered on the development of professional competence?

  • What research can we draw on from the learning sciences to provide guidance for the development of a learning model that will produce professional competence?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Situated Learning: What some have called the situative perspective views learning and cognition as distributed over activity systems and communities of practice rather than residing strictly in the head of individuals. The situative perspective looks at learning, cognition, motivation and achievement as social activities and applies the sociocultural view to research in classroom learning.

Contextualization: Practical reasoning and requires that the practitioner select the elements of professional knowledge most relevant to the given context.

Authentic Learning Activities: Online or in-class activities that mimic real-world issues or situations. In the CPD this could be simulations, problem-based learning exercises or cases.

Cognitive Apprenticeship: Extension of apprenticeship training techniques to the teaching of cognitive and metacognitive skills.

Apprenticeship: Traditional method of training people into a profession that has powerful features for learning. Researchers such as Jean Lave, Allan Collins and John Seely Brown have identified effective learning and teaching techniques from apprenticeship learning and applied them to classroom learning.

Learning Management System: A computer-based, online program that supports the creation of online spaces that contain many of the basic features of a traditional classroom.

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