Mandatory continuing education for psychologists: Practitioners’ views
Background. With the system of mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) for psychologists in its second decade in South Africa (SA), research into practitioners’ views of and experiences with the system is almost non-existent. The current research is necessary to help to inform future developments in this subject area.
Objectives. To understand psychologists’ experiences with the mandatory continuing education system, including their attitudes, means of accessing CPD, barriers and perceived improvements in knowledge and skills.
Methods. A survey approach was used to ascertain feedback from clinical, counselling and educational psychologists in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA. Questions addressed means of accessing CPD activities, relevance to practitioners, whether continuing education needs were being met, topics that should be covered, perceived impact of CPD on practice, cost implications and experiences of being audited by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA). Descriptive statistics were computed to analyse emerging trends.
Results. A total of 204 completed practitioner responses (response rate 28.2%) were received, of whom 55.4% agreed with the mandatory CPD policy, 91.7% noted that they would pursue continuing education even if not compulsory, and 84.3% stated that their continuing education needs were being met. About three-quarters of the participants felt that CPD costs were excessive, 70.1% self-funded their CPD, and 46.8% reported being audited by the HPCSA, of whom 49% had not met the requirements.
Conclusion. Despite the finding that close to half of the sample opposed the idea of mandatory CPD, the expressed willingness to engage in continuing education is a positive sign. Cost as the major barrier will need to be examined as one of the factors that could enhance CPD compliance.