Continuing Professional Development – ECG: Between the Lines

01 Aug 2018 5:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Continuing Professional


ECG - Between the lines

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is not just about reading and recording; it is a very real and necessary part of our role in the NHS and private ambulance services. It is not a management tool to hit key performance indicators (KPI) or a governing body quirk to cause unnecessary suffering or stress. In fact it exists to assist professionals in becoming skilled and well informed employees.

CPD is an emerging field in pre-hospital care; succinctly described by the Health Professions Council (HPC, 2006) as

A range of learning activities through which health professionals maintain and develop throughout their career to ensure that they retain their capacity to practice safely, effectively and legally within their evolving scope of practice.’ (p.6)

Perhaps an easier way to conceptualise CPD is to think about a brick house, each building block representing a learning experience, which when combined with other learning experiences completes the whole structure. The secret to CPD is the ability to recognise and demonstrate how each of these blocks of knowledge creates a safe and effective professional, whilst being able to take a step back to evaluate and reflect upon your work.

One of the more important stages of CPD isRECOGNITION, let’s take an example:

You recognise that you have concerns about understanding electrocardiograms (ECG) and that you struggle with the basic waveform and recognition of a normal sinus rhythm. The fact that you have recognised you need a better understanding of ECGs is the biggest hurdle. Having unlimited access to online learning and development regarding interpreting ECG waveforms is advantageous in today’s busy work / learning climate. Historically as clinicians, we would routinely rely on colleagues to share sample ECGs they have taken and given an explanation of the recording. However, data protection and patient confidentiality now frowns upon this ritualised practice.

Sibson (2008, p.74) states that CPD should be an activity ‘at the discretion of the individual and should be specific to their role and environment.’ CPD is described as ‘…the profession’s response to the increasing sense of accountability demanded by today’s society’ (p. 74). Lawton and Wimpenny (2003) suggest that CPD is the need to ‘put one’s house in order’, indeed if you imagine CPD as the analogy described previously of a brick house, then you are the master of your own learning experience and builder of your own CPD.

Step two of successful CPD is … RECORDING, let’s take an example:

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) states that registered professionals must present a written profile containing evidence of their CPD on request. CPD is assessed against specific criteria, Sibson (2008) suggests that each health professional should have a Professional Development Portfolio (PDP). Forde et al., (2009) describe said Portfolio as a ‘collection of material put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of a practitioner’.

Step three of successful CPD is…REACTION, let’s take an example:

Sibson (2008, p.75) recognises that the driving force behind any CPD is how ‘…the CPD Activity has contributed to your clinical/professional practice and has benefited the service user, the patient or carer’. Indeed Armitage (2011) recognises that ‘…there is a fundamental need for understanding in order to develop clinical skills and make informed clinical decisions based on underpinning knowledge and clinical reasoning’.  Simplified to ‘use it or lose it’ and an understanding that CPD will enhance clinical skill and decision making.

Step four of successful CPD is… REFLECTION, let’s take an example:

The HPC (2010) cite that the lack of observable reflection in portfolios resulted in a significant figure of submitted portfolios being returned to the auditee. The difficulty lies with the ability to document reflection, some of which the individual may feel is private to themselves. The HCPC does not recommend any one model or template for reflective practice; however templates and models are available and can be used (see. Gibbs (2008) and the reflective diary).

Andrew Ormerod - Specialist Paramedic

Spring 2014 - Ambulance Today

Download the full ECG - Between the Lines CPD Document here

Further Information and References

Armitage, E. (2011). Evaluation of the use of portfolios in paramedic practice: part 2. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 3, 328-332.

Forde, C., McMahon, M., & Reeves, J. (2009). Putting Together Professional Portfolios. SAGE publications, London.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning methods. London: Further Education Unit.

Health Professions Council (2006). Your guide to our standards for continuing professional development. HPC, London.

Health Professions Council (2006). Continuing Professional Development and Your Registration. HPC, London.

Health Professions Council (2010). Written request under Freedom of Information Act 2000 in relation to CPD audit of state registered paramedics in 2009. Reported in Armitage (2011).

Lawton, S. & Wimpenny (2003). Continuing professional development: a review. Nursing Standard, 17, 41-44.

Sibson, L. (2008). An Introduction to CPD for paramedic practice. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 1, No 2.


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