Learning for life
Gary Anders, caught up with Robert to discuss his philosophy on learning and education, his views on the current state of CPD and got an insight into what the future may hold in terms of GDC compliance.
Robert Dyas is the man behind Prodental CPD, an innovative website providing the whole dental team with easy access to quality CPD and one of DPAS’s Business Bites partners. Business Bites is an initiative that enables DPAS client practices to select from a range of products and services that help them run their practices more efficiently and effectively. These carefully-selected third-party partners are all experts in their respective fields.
Gary Anders (GA): As an established CPD provider Robert, what have you noticed in relation to the changing needs of the learner?
Robert Dyas (RD): For all dental professionals, including myself, there is now much more regulated learning in order to comply with the mandatory rules and regulations of the GDC, CQC and HSE. Whether we like it or not, compliance-led learning is something we all have to do, but accessing quality CPD is difficult, and one of the main reasons we launched Prodental CPD back in 2008.
What is notable is that I’m seeing many more people, in all sectors of dentistry, choosing to do distance learning via the internet. This is partly because of the ease of access via mobile devices, but also because we are busy professionals and it can be a struggle to make time for study within the working day. Distance learning can be accessed 24/7 at a time and place that suits you, and in my opinion this is definitely the way forward.
GA: So what would you say are the main benefits of e-learning over a traditional provider?
RD: The general consensus worldwide is that with e-learning, people retain up to 60% more information than when they attend a traditional lecture and Powerpoint presentation.
I think that e-learning creates an environment in which the learner can concentrate. You can’t sit and play with your phone or stare out the window, you have to be engaged as you work your way through the online modules.
GA: That’s an interesting statistic – do you think online solutions meet every need of the profession or is there still a place for face-to-face learning?
RD: You certainly can’t do everything online and I wouldn’t suggest that you can. We offer blended learning courses where the knowledge base is provided online and the practical and tutorial elements are done face-to-face. Online is very useful for revision purposes but not to learn skill-based techniques, although it will give you a good level of basic knowledge on which the practical elements are based.
GA: And what about the current quality of overall CPD in the market, do you think it’s good enough?
RD: No I don’t. There are some very good providers out there and we work closely with many of them. However, being a dentist I have to do CPD myself and this means I come across all manner of different standards of provision.
The current situation is that anyone, trained or otherwise, can legally offer CPD to dental professionals. This has resulted in some really poor quality provision, all currently unregulated. There is no overall quality control and it’s a shame that many people will find themselves with a CPD portfolio that is of an insufficient standard to meet GDC requirements. Dentistry is one of the few professions in the UK that has unregulated CPD – as a provider we would be more than happy to be regulated.
GA: Can you give me your thoughts on CPD delivered by companies?
RD: Most CPD that companies provide is fine, but it tends to be very product-driven and can become more of an advertorial than a learning experience. The danger is that some less experienced members of the dental team may not realise CPD provision and product choice are two completely separate entities and this is my main reservation about CPD provided in this way.
GA: I also wanted to ask about the compliance angle. Is the provision of online CPD intrinsically linked to the demonstration of CQC compliance when it comes to record keeping?
RD: You have to demonstrate you’re keeping up with your CPD. We have an editorial board and experts in all areas who provide and edit all the relevant CPD modules we create and ensure everything is correct and up-to-date. This can be a challenge with the constant changes in the guidelines, but it’s something that helps us maintain our quality assurance.
GA: We know that changes to CPD by the GDC are in the offing. What’s your understanding of what these changes will amount to?
RD: The changes that definitely will happen (we understand from January 2017) are that there’ll be a higher emphasis on CPD with an increase in verifiable CPD hours, and professionals will have to submit these annually, something we’ve always advocated as a provider. The GDC are removing non-verifiable CPD, which also makes a lot of sense – no other profession except dentistry currently has non-verifiable CPD.
The problem that the GDC faces is how do they phase these changes in? Dentists and other dental professionals are all at different stages of different five year cycles of CPD, so potentially they will have a number of years with people on both the old and new schemes, which could potentially become very confusing.
GA: So, with changes definitely on the way, how do you continue to assure the quality of your education and learning provision?
RD: We have an editorial board of industry leaders and create our own content – we do not use third-party content. We look at the key learning points and objectives in every area. We have people to test every course to ensure they are delivering the right learning outcomes and these are reviewed on a regular basis. We have a very strong feedback mechanism that we monitor closely and make changes and edit as appropriate.
GA: Can practices sign up all their team members to your service or is it only for individuals?
RD: We offer both options. For practices, as well as access to all the most up-to-date CPD, they have access to a really useful matrix. This allows practice managers to see exactly what stage team members have reached in meeting their CPD requirements, what needs to be done and sends out reminders when CPD is about to expire. Individual users can manage their CPD portfolio from our website, where they can store CPD and certificates from both ourselves and other providers and attach reminders so they are alerted when they are about to expire.
GA: Those are terrific benefits to your users, but what benefit does CPD learning bring to patients?
RD: I believe that it keeps learning and standards fresh in the minds of the dental team and ultimately makes things safer for patients in all areas of dentistry.
GA: We are delighted to have Prodental CPD as part of our Business Bites partners. What made you decide to further your association with DPAS?
RD: I really like the model of Business Bites and the concept of bringing together a number of quality businesses across the sector. With so many providers out there, how do you know which one is a good one? Business Bites gives that endorsement. DPAS are a great company, they know the dental business inside out and after careful consideration, have brought together the companies they recommend their practices should use. It’s a seal of approval when currently there are no other concepts like it out there.
Prodental CPD is a partner in the DPAS Dental Plans Business Bites programme and their services are available to DPAS client practices at reduced rates. For more information, visit www.dpas.co.uk call 01747 870910 or email [email protected].
Gary Anders is managing director of DPAS Dental Plans where his association with dental plans dates back to when they were first introduced into the UK in the late 1980s. He’s amassed over 40 years’ experience in the financial services industry, most notably with global insurance giant, ACE Group. As managing director of one of the largest plan providers, Gary’s core focus is in helping practices to realise their growth potential through the provision of bespoke practice-branded dental plans.