Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

New Continuing Professional Development Rules for Irish Dentists

This evening's Blog is mainly aimed at my colleagues. We're running Dental Photography Bootcamp again in Portmarnock and once again, we went about getting Verifiable Continuing Professional Development (vCPD) approval from the Dental Council of Ireland.

We were informed that the Dental Council is updating its processes for CPD, and although at time of writing its website still uses terms like "verifiable CPD" it will now be differentiating between "STRUCTURED" and "SELF DIRECTED" CPD.

I can't officially speak on behalf of the Dental Council, but I presume the instructions will be going out to Irish Dentists soon, and meantime, here's what I understand about the new instructions for dentists:

  1. you'll need to do a total of 250 HOURS of CPD in a 5 year cycle
  2. of the 250 hours, at least 100 will need to be structured and 150 will be self directed

STRUCTURED CPD is provided by someone other than yourself, and it has 4 principal features:

  1. Concise aims and objectives
  2. Clear Anticipated Outcome
  3. Quality Control Systems (such as feedback from participants)
  4. Documentary Proof of Attendance is issued by the organiser

To be honest, this isn't much different to the previous "vCPD", but there are different arrangements for the people organising courses.

Within the Structured CPD, you guessed it, there are CORE subjects:

  1. Infection Prevention and Control (you'll need 10 hours over 5 years)
  2. Radiation Protection and Informatics (this is word I've never heard anywhere else, it means the processes of storing and retrieving data, and you'll need 5 hours of it every 5 years)
  3. Professional Communication (including study of ethics, handling complaints, conflict resolution and the like and you'll need 10 hours every 5 years)
  4. Medical Emergency Training (this is in addition to the Basic Life Support training that we're all meant to do, and you'll need 5 hours every 5 years)
  5. Audit (yep, it's still there and there's 7 hours of it expected in 5 years)
  6. Record Keeping (5 hours every 5 years)
  7. Governance (the running of a practice, including employment law and health and safety and 8 hours are expected every 5 years)
  8. Clinical Skills ( the actual performing the dentistry bit, 50 hours every 5 years)

(if you do a hands-on course, it counts as double the hours that you actually spend doing it. So anyone doing an implant course where you're driving implants into animal mandibles can expect that to be double the CPD hours on the same topic)

So, by way of example, if you attended Dental Photography Bootcamp, there would be 3 hours of CORE Structured CPD for the lectures and presentations, because Photography is a medical record and there would be 3 hours of Structured CPD for the 90 minutes of hands-on photography training. Total 6 hours, but everyone is done by lunch time.

SELF-DIRECTED CPD does exactly what it says on the tin.

You should figure out what skills and knowledge you want to develop and then set about them. Importantly, you should keep a log of the CPD you undertake. It would be expected that you could seek out a much broader range of topics in this area, with an emphasis on activity that supports their patients or staff, and - intriguingly - "their own health and well being in order to carry out their duties as a dentist". It's pretty similar to what was called "General CPD" in the past.

A dentist should keep a record of the CPD they do, both the log of their self-directed stuff and the certificates of the structured stuff.

Do we have to?

Well, sort of. There are a few distinct adjectives at work, particularly "obligatory" and "mandatory". At the moment, the Dental Council considers it obligatory. That is, you have an obligation to do it as part of your fulfilling your ethical activity as a dentist. But it's not mandatory. As I understand it, the simple difference is that one (obligatory) is a rule, the other is a law (mandatory). You don't go to prison for handball in soccer, but you could be prevented from playing football if the ref sends you off for it. For dental CPD, it won't be a law until there is new dental legislation (the current law is 35 years old) but the Dental Council might still take a dim view of it if they are investigating you for something and you can't demonstrate that you have kept up to date with the things they require of you.

My thoughts, for anyone that would want them?

Smarter dentists should perform better dentistry, which is best possible outcome for patients. Of course it's a good idea to expect a professional to improve their abilities.

This is an update of the Guidelines from about 5 years ago. There was scope for change, but the basics remain the same - for most dentists, at least. The language used still seems strange. The word informatics is used for X-ray requirements, but nothing explicit about improving diagnostic skills (though that is indirectly part of radiation protection - people are safer if you can use less X-rays because you can read them better). There is still the requirement to attend 7 hours of courses on Audit. I didn't understand this half a decade ago, and it's no clearer now. Doing 7 hours of actual audit would be more use, but that's not required (except as part of X-ray compliance). I think any dentist on a five year mission would have to go out of their way to find 7 hours of audit lecturing, even more so if it was intended to be other than perfunctory. In all the wording of "professional communication", the term "Informed consent" isn't mentioned, but we may have to assume it's implied in "ethical and legal issues" and in the term "record keeping" there's no mention of GDPR compliance, despite that being one of the biggest paradigm shifts in record-keeping for a generation.

For me, recording the self directed stuff is always the biggest problem. I might sit down with a cup of tea at the end of the day and go through Journal of the Irish Dental Association, read some articles, do the quiz, but it would never occur to me that I should find the form and write the date, the article and time spent doing it, I'll have to see if there is an app for it....


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As part of Phase One of the National Reopening, Swords Orthodontics resumed routine orthodontic treatment in May 2020.
There are a few differences in how we do this specifically to deal with coronavirus, but you'll still get great orthodontic treatment.
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