From April 2021, to gain recertification as a Dental Hygienist, I am required to create a Professional Developmental Plan (PDP) that lays out my learning and developmental aims and goals for my regulatory board. It, the New Zealand Dental Council (NZDC) has changed the criteria for Dental Healthcare Professionals (DHP) in line with many other regulatory organisations to add depth and quality to continuing professional development (CPD), involve the learner in educational attainment work directed towards their workplace culture and environment. In addition to these a Professional Peer (PP) will be required to act as a mentor, advocate and overseer of this process combined with a personal written reflective practice of Professional Development Activities (PDA). The process of that is demonstrated in figure 1.
Fig 1. GDC UK reflective cycle for PDA’s
In this account I wish to look backward on the previous year, starting April 2019, as the beginning of the new cycle, as the initiation of my PDP. Then account for the learning undertake from then to the present and consider the current situation with COVID 19 disrupting clinical practice for non-essential care. This is also, paradoxically, a great opportunity to consider where you presently are professionally and where you feel you want or need to go in planning you learning journey. Historically I had created a PDP and record on it my PDA when I was studying at The University of Kent several years ago. It is something I lost touch with coming to New Zealand in 2013 but having prior knowledge of it has led me back to my archives to dust off the means of recreating them.
I hope It will indicate where I have been and will go with my learning journey, a part of which is completed, another disrupted and future activities I propose based upon the consequences of world and local events and changes of practice setting and culture.
When choosing goals I look at the NZDC standards framework guidance, feedback from clients and colleagues, appraisals from employers and management. Give consideration to non-clinical aspects of practice too, leadership, communication, research and teaching skills may form ideas for learning objectives. Prioritise, if possible, your goals in order of importance or in a time line (authors note). The various methods of achieving learning objectives include conferences be they regional, national or international, the setting whether online learning or workplace training or shadowing. You could also create your own learning journey, focused on your needs where they can’t be met more formally. Authentic learning and action research, similar to inquiry learning can offer self-directed alternative approaches to new claims to knowledge and more meaningful first personal development in addition to convention education.
Fig 2. PDP log
My practice culture and status over the last year has changed, from a general dental practice setting to a mixed but mainly orthotropic – arch expansion – orthodontic setting with 3 orthodontic auxiliaries, 1 dentist, 3 Dental Assistants, a Manager and Receptionist. The COVID crisis has seen the practice shed a dentist and Dental Assistant. The move from Blenheim to Nelson has seen a role shift into a new dimension of dental hygiene with a greater onus on a strict regime of infection control, being less liberal than the previous practice by some margin. My learning goal became one of catching up. Prior to starting work in my present location, as can been in figure 1, I was engaged in an epic 9 week overseas sabbatical, see “experimental Learning 19” menu and a reflections related to it.
I constructed a way to present it through a website portal. I used WordPress to create a website that could additionally support the goal setting, evidence gathering and writing. Getting the right themes and menus has been a challenge, the intricacies of knowing how to create pages and posts, how to tag and edit, insert pictures and keep up with new ideas and technical challenges has been rewarding and, at times, a little stressful. Potentially It could be a good device for colleagues to adopt if so inclined as a simple way to demonstrate compliance, development and transparency. Below are two links, created by the same person on how to go about creating one.
It was my intention to develop my role in my current practice by travelling to Melbourne to complete a course in Oral Myofacial Function so I could evolve my practice and create my clinical time. This was cancelled due to the COVID 19 crisis and there appears to be little future prospect of undertaking it in the foreseeable future and, in effect, it is on hold. I am presently considering how I move forward with my PDA goals and have come to the conclusion that writing about topics that interest me, that are linked to my workplace and the future recertification process can take precedence for now. My colleagues have advised me on CPD topics related to orthotropics and oral myofacial function but I’ve decided to engage those when the current Alert state reduces and I have the inevitable clinical white space at work. The opportunity to focus on professional writing has been extremely rare, until now. Below are two links to those subjects which will be added to the PDP shortly with a duel reflection and discussion with my professional peer.
During my first few months in Nelson I began to realise, very quickly, that many of my clients were fairly “alternative” and investigative in their approach to subjects like fluoride and nutrition. There were also a cohort of clients interested in environmental issues and sustainability. This made me consider my approach to that as well. In comparison to Blenheim cliental where I continued to work as a locum for two days of the week, this posed a living paradoxical challenge. The contrast between the two client bases was stark both in terms of their dental knowledge and expectations of the nature of my delivery of care which make me reflect. One I was cosy with, having worked there for several years and the other new. I had to move deeper into researching and investigating their positions on it, enquiring as to the nature of their research undertaken which, on many occasions was diametrically opposed to my own indoctrination, experiences and beliefs. I was curious and willing to listen, to understand without judgement and I was careful to recognise and affirm other people’s positions, and offer tailored alternative advice or options, especially regarding topics like nutrition and fluoride.
Moving forward, we still await the proposed changes to recertification to be officially confirmed. The NZDC response to the COVID crisis has allowed the professional to breathe a sigh of relief regarding compliance to the strict verifiable CPD hours. This allows an opportunity for all to reflect on the PDA and future educational goals with the time created by the lockdown. This is exactly what I’m doing, I have a project, begun last year to complete, I can continue on the theme of changing practices and direction within the new one, displayed via a website online for the sake of transparency. It also demonstrates my learning journey for others to view and to comment on and promotes my passion for self-directed, appropriate and authentic learning as a juxta-position to the norm.
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