Making Continuing Professional Learning and Development in the Workplace Count

In 2013 NHS Employers, commissioned by the Department of Health, funded this research study as a means of developing the evidence base to support the national Educational Outcomes Framework (EOF). The EOF aims to ensure that the health workforce has the right skills, behaviours and training, available in the right numbers, to support the delivery of excellent healthcare and health improvement. The intention was for the framework to act as a catalyst for driving quality improvement and outcome measurement throughout the NHS by encouraging a change in culture and behaviour, including a renewed sense of focus on addressing variation in standards and ensuring excellence and innovation in providing education. Continuing Professional learning and Development (CPD) can involve any relevant learning activity, whether formal and structured or informal and self-directed.

The study set out to develop and test a CPD Impact Tool that identifies mechanisms for measuring the impact of learning on individual, team, service and organisational effectiveness in relation to improvements in quality of care and patient outcomes in the workplace.

Figure 1: Research Study Phases (Pawson & Tilley 2008)

We demonstrated in our findings that the main purpose of CPD is the delivery of person centred safe and effective evidence informed care in the workplace. The outcomes include:

  1. An overarching framework for understanding the purpose of effective CPD (Fig 2).
  2. Four new theories of transformation to enhance quality of care, specifically the transformation of (i) the individual’s professional practice, (ii)skills to meet a continually changing context (iii) knowledge translation, (iv) workplace culture/context.
  3. Indicators that measure the impact of learning for individuals, teams, services and organisations
  4. A range of ways to evaluate achievement of CPD impact for different professions and contexts.

Figure 2: Four Main Purposes of CPD

Our findings have concluded that in order for CPD to be effective it has to address all of the outcomes for individual, team, service and organisational transformation, because they are interrelated and interdependent. Transformation of workplace culture and individual professional practice are important pre-requisites to the other two sub purposes of CPD if the transformation of skills and transformation of knowledge are to achieve their full impact in the workplace on service users. Both the workplace and organisation are key influencers on whether the outcomes of CPD are achieved for the individual because both the workplace and the organisation can negatively or positively impact on what is considered important to focus on in terms of learning and development content, whether the workplace can be used as a resource for learning and how learning and development may be enabled. Therefore, we should be focusing on the development of individual professional practitioners as transformational whole systems leaders in order to reap the benefits of enhanced knowledge and skills, which will in turn promote enhanced team effectiveness in the workplace in an ever changing context in order to capitalise on CPD resources and investment.

For detailed insight into the tool, case studies, and recommendations you can view the full report at

Report Authors:

Jackson, C. Manley, K., Martin, A, Wright, T. (2015) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for quality care: context, mechanisms, outcome and impact. ISBN 978-1-909067-39-4.


Carrie Jackson

Director – England Centre for Practice Development
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing

Canterbury Christ Church University
North Holmes Road
Canterbury CT1 1QU
Kent, England, UK
Tel: + 44 (0)1227 782649 (direct line)
E-mail: carolyn.jackson

PA: anna.humphreys Tel + 44 1227 767700 Ext. 1637

@ECPDCarolyn, @ECPD3

Fundraising Committee member “making our hospitals dementia friendly by improving patient environment and facilities’

Visiting Positions:

Adjunct Professor of Nursing – Department of Nursing Studies, State University of New York, Buffalo, USA

Honorary Clinical Academic Fellow – East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Honorary Clinical Academic Fellow – East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Editorial Board Member – International Practice Development Journal

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