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The Project

This consortium is motivated to instigate a strategic European change to the way in which continuing professional development (CPD) activities are organised at a local level in EU hospital laboratories. CPD is imperative for biomedical scientists to maintain competence to practice thus supporting quality service delivery. Harmonisation of CPD within Europe is needed to underpin mobility of biomedical scientists and to ensure excellence in provision of EU-patient laboratory test results. Presently, CPD courses delivered by recognised Vocational Educational Training (VET) providers are usually presented within a quality framework but no such framework exists for those CPD activities which are delivered locally by hospital laboratories. EU hospital laboratories play a key part in CPD provision for biomedical scientists and this novel project,project is needed in order to reshape, update and transform their function as quality CPD providers. The aim of this Partnership is therefore to share and develop good practice in continuing professional development for biomedical scientists and from this to collaboratively develop an EU-toolkit for delivery of high quality CPD activities provided by European hospital laboratories.
Initial motivation for undertaking this ground-breaking project, which is unique in addressing the role of hospital laboratories as life-long learning education providers for biomedical scientists, was recommended as the way forward to build on a hugely successful Leonardo Mobility (UK & Malta) project (UK/10/LLP-LdV/VETPRO/163040) rated as ‘Excellent’ and chosen from across the UK for presentation at the Lifelong Learning Programme and Youth in Action Valorisation Conference within the CPD category. Subsequent drive to fulfil the project ambitions was furthered by partner contacts via CPD focussed Transversal Study visit (UK & Hungary; 2011-sv-01-GB-LLP-00851) and dissemination of the Mobility project at an international conference (UK & Croatia).
The current challenge within this specific VET arena is that different countries throughout Europe have different requirements for Biomedical Scientist’s CPD and these demonstrate considerable variation - from the UK system where there is a legal requirement for Biomedical Scientists to maintain a CPD portfolio, to other member states where CPD is highly recommended but non mandatory. By carrying out CPD, Biomedical Scientists can ensure that their knowledge and expertise is relevant and up-to-date and learning undertaken as part of CPD seeks to ensure that it relates to continued competence to practice.
EU Biomedical scientists’ CPD is already undergoing reform. Previously successful European projects have sought to create European models for both paper based (f/95/A/2010/9/1/1.1B/FPC) and electronic based (2010-1-BE3-LEO04-02269 1) CPD portfolios for Biomedical Scientists. While a European Common Framework for CPD in the Biomedical Sciences has been developed for CPD courses, by LifeTrain (part of the EMTrain), it focusses on biomedical research rather than routine diagnostic biomedical science practice. While there is some knowledge overlap between the two fields of research and routine practice some of the courses within ‘on-course’ are appropriate as CPD activities for Biomedical Scientists. But what is missing? A significant proportion of a biomedical scientist’s CPD activities, within all partner countries, are not carried out by participation in formal courses. Rather, they are delivered locally within the hospital setting. As such, EU hospital laboratories are life-long learning CPD education providers but there is currently no system in place for quality assurance of their CPD provision. The consortium’s goal is to change this. A toolkit will provide pathways for managing and organising incorporation of quality standards and criteria for accreditation, evaluation and reflective practice within hospital CPD provision plus an EU hospitals CPD providers network will facilitate more intensive European co-operation by sharing of knowledge, collaboration and keeping pace with current initiatives via an EU Community of Practice network of Biomedical Scientists.
This partnership will raise EU Biomedical Scientist’s CPD to the next level by targeting a previously unchartered territory of CPD provision i.e. that which is delivered locally by hospital laboratories. The first step towards this goal is to bring together laboratory scientists from partner countries to learn about the different approaches to CPD in partner organisations and countries thus facilitating participative interaction with European colleagues enabling EU sharing of ways of working. As such a collaborative review which compares and contrasts approaches to CPD and identifies core elements of good practice will be produced as the first section of the toolkit, setting the scene and paving the way for subsequent partnership activities.
As locally delivered hospital CPD activities are not currently subject to quality standards, the consortium has recognised that there is a pressing need for this situation to be resolved. Motivation to ameliorate this derives from a requirement for a standardised approach to quality provision including accreditation of locally delivered hospital CPD events. Current disparity and lack of quality is emphasized by CPD systems in different partner countries including; a purely output driven system, a system whereby the same activity is awarded different points by different interview panels in the same country and a more input focussed system. Implementation of a common CPD quality framework is necessary to solve these inconsistencies. A common quality framework, the second section of the toolkit, including a harmonised accreditation system along with common evaluation of CPD activities will go some way to realising recognition of transferable locally delivered hospital CPD activities for biomedical scientists across the EU.
Reflecting effectively on CPD activities is a key skill that all Biomedical Scientists should possess as reflective practice is known to lead to enhanced competence. However, reflective practice is currently an underused skill with doubts among laboratory scientists around using reflection as part of their CPD stemming from uncertainty, inexperience and lack of confidence (Wilson, 2010). This consortium will address this need by providing EU hospitals with a framework (section 3 of the toolkit) for including CPD activities within their locally delivered CPD events and thus making reflective practice accessible within all CPD events. Guidelines for hospital laboratories (section 4 of the toolkit) on managing and organising quality CPD activities for laboratory staff will complete the toolkit which will be translated into all partner languages. A CPD providers’ network will be an on-going means for an EU-wide Community of Practice for EU-hospital laboratories.
This project addresses the priorities of ET 2020 which recognises ‘that high-quality VET are fundamental to Europe's success’ and that ‘lifelong learning needs to be a priority’. The consortium aims to support the long-term strategic objectives of EU education and training policies by improving the quality of biomedical scientists’ CPD training. Whilst the goal of the project is to develop a common quality framework toolkit for locally delivered hospital pathology CPD activities, the project will be carried out in accordance with Article 149 of the EC Treaty by ‘encouraging co-operation’ and respecting the prohibited ‘harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States’. The project supports the EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and the free movement of professionals, with associated future economic success via a more mobile workforce as biomedical scientists are already motivated to practice in different EU countries and are among the top 25 most mobile of the regulated professions. As a mobile profession there is a need for recognition of an individual’s CPD across the EU which will be achieved in part by harmonisation of locally delivered hospital based CPD activities within a common EU quality framework. The accomplishment of this project will dramatically change the way in which CPD is organised, managed and delivered by EU hospital laboratories. Thus competence to practice and EU-citizen patient safety, the heart of the profession is ensured.