The importance of being earnestly online for learning

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Postgraduate education and CPD provision is one area, at least, that has adapted to the pandemic crisis. The move to online training has occurred quickly, in some ways almost seamlessly.

Of course, this builds on prior online options, online courses, such as those offered by BDA Education were already well established. And in CPD terms online training merely has to fulfil the same GDC criteria for verifiable training as all other courses or events. The online offer is now very wide – from structured courses, live seminars that allow interaction with the providers able to respond to questions from the participants as they go along, to recorded podcasts.

Research the options that are out there. Here, within the BDJ the online programme provides many hours of verifiable CPD each year, and BDJ In Practice adds more. Both publications are fully digitalised, with content constantly available. And if you are after formal qualifications for career progression, there are a number of providers offering stimulating opportunities for study, look in this feature for details of some of the courses on offer.

The BDA Events team have magnificently adapted to the pandemic with the offer that they have made available at - the programme available has a number of formats:


  • Webinars- Live and on-demand lectures covering a range of subjects.
  • Training Essentials - A cost-effective portfolio of courses to help meet the recommended CPD needs of the whole dental team.
  • Seminars- In-depth exploration of fundamental dentistry and advanced level clinical topics covered by renowned national and international speakers.
  • Branches and Sections - Live lectures hosted by local officers covering a wide range of subjects.
  • Conferences- Large-scale, multi-stream events looking at best-practice.
  • Workshops- Hands-on learning allow discussion, interaction, and presentation format.

Many of these are free to members.

Many traditional CPD events will require time-out from the practice (provision for study leave is always suggested as an important term in any associate contract). However, the online provision has allowed timings to be more flexible with resources available 24 hours or podcasts timed for the evening. Practices often also arrange in-house training for the whole team, this being another area where there are many online resources available for a practice to use. It might be the case that the traditionally recommended CPD subjects are suitable for internal training. Scenarios from actual situations that have arisen in the practice concerning, say, handling complaints, medical emergencies or child protection can help you all prepare for the next time.

Online Hub

Recording CPD is as much of a professional obligation as the planning and doing of CPD – make sure you keep a log and keep it safe. The BDA CPD Hub, free to all members, has embraced online technology for a number of years now, to keep you on top of CPD recording. Visit – it enables you to earn, record and manage CPD through one convenient online service. CPD records should then be kept for five-years after the end of each CPD cycle, so an online record is a good place to do this and keep it secure.

Make a Personal Development Plan

Having a Personal Development Plan (PDP) is part of the CPD record that you must keep under the GDC’s enhanced continuing professional development (ECPD) scheme. Writing down a plan allows you to consider in a reasonably formal way which CPD you need to do, and to record the what, when, why and how. PDPs can be simple and just consist of a piece of paper but doing this online makes it easier for you to keep on top of it. You can get a template in the BDA CPD Hub. This will help you looking at your CPD requirements:

  • What do I need to learn or maintain for this cycle?
  • How does this relate to my field of practice?
  • Which development outcome does it link to?
  • What benefit will this have to my work?
  • How will I meet this learning or maintenance need?
  • When will I complete the activity?

As you go through your CPD cycle your PDP should be a living document that you update with each activity – something where having it online will be a real boon. Record your thoughts on which subject matters are relevant to your practice, those that will develop a personal interest and those that will address a specific personal training need. As new regulations, standards or guidance come into force or are published, log how you may become familiar with these through your CPD. And has a practice or patient issue highlighted something on which you want a refresher? State how you expect an activity to benefit you in your practice. Consider how you plan to address each topic – such as through a course, conference, online learning, audit or peer review. And once completed, state that this has been done!

The right online training

As stated above online training should comply with the GDC’s criteria for verifiable CPD. There must be a clear outline of the training and what will be covered, development objectives set, certification of your participation from the provider and, of course, a defined number of hours. Providers are well aware of this and should provide clear information of how their offer measures up.

To assess whether the training or activities you plan to do are relevant for you use your online PDP to consider how a webinar or podcast would link to one of the four formal development outcomes. The GDC has stipulated four very broad categories:

  1. Effective communication with patients, the dental team, and others across dentistry, including when obtaining consent, dealing with complaints, and raising concerns when patients are at risk
  2. Effective management of self, and effective management of others or effective work with others in the dental team, in the interests of patients; providing constructive leadership where appropriate;
  3. Maintenance and development of knowledge and skill within your field of practice;
  4. Maintenance of skills, behaviours and attitudes which maintain patient confidence in you and the dental profession and put patients’ interests first.

Please note, the letters A-D need to be indicated on provider certificates and on your log and PDP.

We’ll meet again

Of course, with the vaccination programme rolling out, it is expected that there will always be a place to traditional face-to-face events. The profession’s major annual conference – with its wide range of seminars and training sessions – the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show is planning for a big comeback in June 2021, though the best place to check out the details online 





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