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How to... create the best CPD portfolio

At the end of last year Mark Cioni, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science, received an award for his outstanding CPD. Here he gives advice on how to maintain a portfolio.

It was a huge honour to be informed that I had won the Science Council CPD award 2021, in the Chartered Scientist registration category. Reflecting on the award, I concluded that the key to my success was thinking laterally about what CPD was and making sure that I logged all of the CPD I had undertaken.

As registered biomedical scientists, we are used to the concept of having to maintain our portfolio to evidence our development and knowledge of the current topics affecting our profession. Attending events or undertaking qualifications are good sources of CPD, but there is a lot more to it than that. Try to think about your everyday interactions with your colleagues and service users; how often do you give advice or show someone how to do something? Even your morning commute to work can turn into a CPD opportunity (it’s incredible what you can learn from listening to the radio that you can add to your portfolio).

I have been a Biomedical Scientist for 24 years and a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Nottingham Trent University for just over three years, following a 22-year career in NHS microbiology labs.

Altered my mindset

I began my career after graduation from Staffordshire University and began working as a Medical Laboratory Assistant at the Public Health Laboratory Service in Stoke-on-Trent. While I was there, I became a registered biomedical scientist and, while I was doing my master’s degree, I was promoted to the role of Senior Biomedical Scientist. It was here, in my early career, that the collection of CPD began, through a programme of training and formal qualifications.

“Attending events or undertaking qualifications are good sources of CPD, but there is a lot more to it than that”

Following my promotion to Lab Manager within Path Links Pathology, I undertook a management qualification and became involved in the NHS Improvement Lean Programme. Initially, I couldn’t see the link between a managerial job and being able to maintain a CPD portfolio that would withstand the scrutiny of audit. However, I found that I just had to alter my mindset. I then realised that there were a lot of managerial tasks that I performed daily that fit in with my CPD portfolio. After just over seven years as Service Manager for a county-wide microbiology service, I thought that it was time for a different challenge. It was then that I made the move into academia.

My top tips for CPD:

  • Record your CPD little and often
  • Keep a CPD diary
  • Find out about the audit process
  • Take every opportunity to get a broad CPD portfolio with many different activity types.


CPD audit

It was after leaving the lab that I began to get a significant amount of variation into my CPD portfolio. This began initially with my application to become a Chartered Scientist. Firstly, I had to get my CPD organised in a way that would be suitable for the application as it was needed to be in a specific format. This took a bit of time to get the CPD records I had in an Excel file into the application for Chartered Scientist. Fortunately for me, my application was accepted.

After becoming a Chartered Scientist, I applied for and gained a place on the IBMS Specialist Advisory Panel (SAP) for Microbiology. This is a role that I really like doing and it opens a lot of CPD opportunities for me. Other than the meetings I attend for the SAP, I am required to review and comment on the National Standard Methods as they are being produced, as well as national guidance, such as NICE guidelines. I have also been asked co-comment on proposed medical device regulation changes, a “Regulating Healthcare Professionals” consultation, and a consultation on the laboratory validation of COVID-19 tests. Some of these have true national scientific and professional scope.

Then, just before Christmas last year, I was contacted by Christian Burt, the IBMS Professional Support Services Manager, who informed me that I had been chosen from the Chartered Scientists registered through the IBMS to have my CPD portfolio audited (this happens to 2.5% of the IBMS-registered Chartered Scientists annually).

As I had altered the way I logged my CPD following my Chartered Scientist application and had kept my CPD up to date in the meantime, getting the information together for the audit took less than a day to complete. Following the announcement that I had met the CPD audit outcomes, I was recommended to apply for the CPD awards. Again, because my CPD was up to date and in the required format, the application didn’t take that long to do.

CPD advice

Record your CPD often. Whist I know that it is difficult to do this all the time, it is the key to ensuring that the recording of CPD does not become an onerous task. Life does take over and you can easily forget to record your CPD. However, I have got into the habit of recording at least monthly. Getting my wage slip each month reminds me that is it time to update my CPD record (the carrot and stick approach).

Keep a diary. I have been doing this for 10 years now and it is invaluable, especially in the early years, when I wasn’t recording my CPD as often as I am now. I got into the habit of writing down what I did during the day in a diary. Things I knew were CPD, I annotated with an asterisk and then just recorded all the tasks I performed as the day went on. When you eventually come to record your CPD, at least you will have a record of what you did and when. I even found that with activities that I did but that I didn’t flag as having an element of CPD, I was able to apportion some CPD to it on reflection. Another benefit of having a diary, is that you can also log any “off-the-job” CPD easily. If you have heard something on the radio on the way into work, watched a television programme where you learned something, or chaired a parish council meeting where you were able to use your knowledge to benefit others, it can be added to your journal and later your CPD record.

I got into the habit of writing what I did during the day in a diary

Find out the format of your profession’s CPD audit process. If you find out the format of how you may be audited, and then use this as a template for logging your own CPD, then, if you get called on to have your CPD record reviewed, it is just a case of dragging and dropping your CPD into the audit template (and you can avoid a lot of time being spent on amending your CPD record to fit the format).

Take every opportunity to get a broad CPD portfolio. When I worked in the lab, my CPD portfolio was very scientifically biased. Then, when I moved into academia, it became very pedagogically biased. Now, I ensure that my CPD portfolio contains some CPD that is scientifically informed so that I can keep abreast of what is happening in the lab whilst also containing some activities that show that I am progressing with the teaching and learning I am now undertaking. Feeding into national standard methods and consultations works well for the questions asking how the CPD I do feeds into benefiting service users.

To conclude, yes, CPD takes work, and the more opportunities you grasp to gain CPD, the more work that you may have to do. But, at the end of the day, you will become a more informed professional. You will get a sense of achievement from what you learn and how you can use your knowledge to help others. Others will benefit from your experience and, you never know, you too may be lucky to have your efforts rewarded by your professional body.  

Image credit | iStock

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