This site is intended for health professionals only

Getting the most out of staff training

Lucie Carrington
Freelance writer
E:lucie.carrington@btinternet.com

Skills and health are high on the Labour government's agenda, so there is plenty of advice and possibly funding around to help both you and your practice/primary care team source the training you need.
Of course, being better qualified is not just about putting more letters after your name - it could be about attending short courses, reading articles, or making the most of some of the e-learning initiatives that are around. For most nurses this has been part of their routine since student days - they have to keep their professional skills up to scratch to stay on the UKCC register - soon to become the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Continuing professional development
The Royal College of Nursing has set up what is called a "continuing professional development" (CPD) scheme to help nurses remain up to date. Many other professions, from personnel to museum curators, run CPD schemes. They are not study programmes, nor are they designed to encourage people to attend as many training courses as possible. Rather, they are about getting people to think through their workplace development needs are and how best to meet them.
Your development goals should be linked to the skills and knowledge your patients and colleagues need you to have - CPD is not an opportunity to brush up on your holiday French! Ideally, CPD should be about improving the capabilities of the whole team as much as your individual skills, so development goals need to be worked out in conjunction with your colleagues in the primary healthcare team.
Nurses who take part in the RCN programme are expected to complete a minimum of 35 hours of CPD over three years - that's the equivalent of five working days' training. Details of the RCN scheme are to be found on its website and include a list of resources that are available to nurses. There is also a list of useful articles and information specifically for nurses working in primary healthcare.

Resources
If you are looking for other training ideas and perhaps funding, you or your team manager should contact some of the agencies the government has recently established to help ratchet up skills levels across the country (see Resources).
Learndirect is the brand name for the government's "University for Industry". It's not so much a university as an advice line. You can use it to access information on courses in your area by phone or via the website.
If that fails to deliver, there's always the good old-fashioned local library!

Resources
Learndirect
Government ­training advice line
T:0800 100 900

Learning and Skills Councils
Government ­agencies designed to ­oversee adult training
W:www.lsc.gov.uk

Royal College of Nursing
Runs a continuing professional ­development scheme for nurses W:www.rcn.org.uk

Individual Learning Accounts
An efficient way of saving and paying
for your training
T:0800 072 5678