Part Two: Rethinking Professional Development

In part one, we defined professional development (PD) and examined why it’s important. Now, we’ll explore the pros and cons of our current PD system.

What’s good about our PD model?


We’re in control of our learning. The Physiotherapy Board has entrusted us with this responsibility. Kudos to them.

There are no strict boundaries to adhere to. Instead, we can let our minds roam free in the fields of knowledge. This lack of limits means we’re not forced to learn things that we don’t want to. Also, we can set our schedule so our work or personal life doesn’t get muddled.


We’re given the responsibility to take our education in the direction we choose. So, we can pursue topics that interest us. This has benefits, like:

  • Making PD palatable (and even enjoyable)
  • The ability to focus on an area giving us the opportunity to become an expert over time
  • Reminding us that we’re professionals. It’s our duty to take control of our learning and deliver the highest level of service we can

What’s bad about our PD model?

Lack of accountability

The system is based on an honesty policy. Only if we’re audited do we have to provide proof of our PD. Even then, we could fabricate a year’s worth of professional development (don’t lie – you’ve had the same thought).

Physios are inquisitive by nature. So, it’s not like we deliberately dodge and duck (dip, dive and dodge) PD. But it can take a back seat. We might be swamped with work one week. So, we promise to double our PD the next. But then we forget or something else comes up. And the snowball gains momentum.

There’s no standard

The Board says that we need to maintain and improve our competency. But what does this mean? How do we know if we’re good enough? Or, more appropriately, delivering the best level of care we can?

There’s no framework (not one that I could unearth, anyway) that we can use as a guide. For example:

  • Foundational skills – Here’s what you should know. Here’s where you can find appropriate revision resources. And, here’s a quiz to test your ability
  • Updates – Here are the significant changes from the past year. This includes changes to clinical practice (better ways of treating and things we no longer do because they’ve been proven ineffective). As well as non-clinical things (pay rates and billing codes, for example)
  • Information – Here is where you can find information for furthering your knowledge. It’s broken into categories depending on your interests and the skills you want to develop

Is it even significant?

PD isn’t given the importance that it deserves. We know we have to do it. But we don’t take it seriously because:

  • The requirements are so vague
  • The punishment for not doing the necessary hours is equally ambiguous and unlikely
  • The rewards are intangible
  • There is a cost involved. Monetary – such as paying for a course. Time – like the time it takes to read a journal article

So, while there are some strengths of our current PD approach, there are critical flaws too.

Next, we’ll analyse the PD models of other professions to see what we can learn from them.

What are the pros and cons of our PD system in your opinion? Let’s start a conversation below.

Author: Andrew Cammarano

Andy writes about anything that comes to mind. Oftentimes, he repeats himself. So, if you read a post and ask yourself, "I feel like I've read this before." Chances are you have. Apart from writing, he eats a diet high in peanut butter, he exercises (and suffers from a chafed butt from performing too many sit-ups in pursuit of a six-pack) and comes up with many fantastical ideas, like his peanut butter-based chafe cream. Reach out to him to share your opinions (or if you'd like to become his chafe cream business partner).

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