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Continuing professional development (CPD) is a cornerstone of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) knowledge translation (KT) mandate. Encompassing a holistic approach to learning, CPD addresses and supports a range of professional competencies including clinical education, evidence-based care, practice management and ethical decision making. The CPD program promotes the enhancement of specialty-specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, performance and, ultimately, health outcomes, while supporting accountability and transparency within the self-governing specialist profession. CPD facilitates a variety of learning formats and, more importantly, focuses on outcomes related to practice.
The CCS CPD portfolio of programs have grown and evolved over the past several years. The scope of CCS CPD programs for 2009/2010 has expanded to include an impressive range of live and online programs. These programs incorporate two ‘closed-loop’ KT programs and content from the largest annual meeting in Canada, the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC).
The CCS CPD program is overseen by the CPD Committee, chaired by Dr Simon Jackson. The mission of the committee is to position the CCS as a leader of CPD in the Canadian cardiovascular community. The committee’s primary activity is setting policy to help the CCS successfully navigate program development and refinement. Over the past two years under the committee’s leadership, the CCS has made major strides in many important areas. These include refining the criteria for the types of programs the CCS delivers and accredits, improving processes to develop programs with maximum CCS member involvement, recruiting qualified members to serve as program assessors and guiding the CCS through its own accreditation by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The impact of these changes has increased the visibility and credibility of the CCS as an accrediting body, increased CCS member involvement, and facilitated innovative ways for the cardiovascular community to update clinical practice skills and learn new knowledge.
The central component of the CCS CPD program is the CCC. The CCC has evolved to become the pre-eminent Canadian medical meeting, consistently attracting more than 3500 delegates each year to engage in new science, networking and shared experiences in the cardiovascular field. All symposia held at the CCC are now accredited by the CCS and, in turn, involve many of our members as program planners, chairs and/or topic experts.
In recent years, CCS members have been very prolific in developing guideline updates and position statements. These important KT tools are developed by CCS members and disseminated as broadly and interactively as possible. The CCS Council, and the CPD, Guidelines and CCC Scientific Program Committees make highlighting this key information a priority. As a result, you will have seen these manuscripts presented in plenary sessions and workshops at the CCC and other regional meetings, featured in CCS online learning programs, and published in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology. We are continuously seeking ways to make this information as accessible and interactive as possible to cardiac care teams across Canada, with the aim of contributing to improved patient outcomes.
Longstanding CCS members are familiar with the CCS ‘closed loop’ model for KT. This model serves to support translating multidisci-plinary CCS guidelines into clinical practice through a range of mechanisms including CPD. For the past five years, the model has been successfully applied to the CCS Heart Failure Guidelines Program, reaching more than 2500 practitioners face-to-face each year, and another 1500 per year through accredited e-learning programs. Each year, the CCS heart failure Web site (www.hfcc.ca) receives more than 500,000 visits by practitioners seeking downloads of key resources such as slide kits and pocket reference cards. The model is now being used to support KT on the topic of atrial fibrillation, for which, we expect to achieve the same success as with heart failure in the broad and interactive dissemination of the guidelines.
This CCS face-to-face regional CPD program provides insight on how findings presented at international meetings can affect and/or be applied to Canadian clinical practice. During the past two years, the CCS has attracted hundreds of physicians to this very popular and engaging half-day program, which has been offered in both Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario. For those who cannot attend the programs in person, the CCS posts video highlights of the program at www.ccs.ca and distributes the meeting’s proceedings to all CCS members via CD-ROM. The Canadian Perspectives programs help the cardiovascular community stay abreast of advances in cardiovascular research and medicine happening around the world.
Another key component of CCS CPD programs is e-learning. The CCS posts a range of high-calibre, accredited e-learning programs on the CCS Advancing In Cardiovascular Health e-learning portal at www.advancingin.com. On the Web site, learners have access to a variety of programs on specific topics relevant to cardiology. Our familiarity with this mode of distance learning is evolving and we hope that presently and moving forward, members find value in interacting with the content we make available on this site. This fall, new e-learning programs will be launched with content coming from CCC 2010, new programs focusing on the recently released CCS cholesterol guidelines (published in the October 2009 issue of The Canadian Journal of Cardiology) and a first CCS foray into synchronous, small-group Internet-conferencing programs, with the initial program focusing on the 2009 heart failure guidelines.
The possibilities for e-learning programs are vast. One way the CCS can expand CPD offerings to CCS members is to review and accredit programs not developed by the CCS, but that are of great interest to CCS members. To this end, the CCS has collaborated with the American College of Cardiology to accredit five American College of Cardiology online self-assessment programs. You can find these programs listed as CCS accredited programs on the CCS and RCPSC Web sites.
In support of maintaining a strong and leading-edge CPD program, the CCS maintains a solid working relationship with the Office of Professional Affairs at the RCPSC. The mission of the Office of Professional Affairs is to establish, promote and implement educational standards, strategies and tools that enable physicians to develop effective and efficient CPD plans that can be integrated into practice. The CCS liaises with the RCPSC to consult on and stay abreast of changes to CPD standards. This ensures that the CCS is aligned with RCPSC policy changes when we select and develop accredited CPD programs. Some changes that CCS members will have observed over the years that illustrate the responsiveness of the CCS to RCPSC CPD guidelines include improvements in how we conduct member needs assessments regarding new programs, taking a lead in codeveloped programs to ensure that CCS members drive program content and structure, and improved evaluation practices so we can learn how to improve future programs. With the RCPSC CPD requirements and accreditation standards continuously evolving, you can be certain that CCS practices will evolve in lockstep. Our intention is that the result will be ongoing member-driven improvements to the CCS CPD program content, structure and accessibility.
Our hope is that this brief overview of the CCS CPD program will give you a strong sense of the CCS commitment to high-quality, needs-based CPD programs. Always striving to be responsive to member needs, we welcome your input and involvement in CPD programs and activities at all times. If you have comments or questions about CCS CPD programs, or would like to become more involved in what we are doing in the CPD area, please contact our CPD Committee Chair, Dr Simon Jackson, through the CCS office, or our Director of Knowledge Translation, Carolyn Pullen at ac.scc@nellup.