CET and CPD. What’s the difference?

If you are already meeting your CET requirements, then why bother with continuing professional development (CPD)? Barbara Mason explains CPD and why it's so important for your own professional advancement.

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Author: Barbara Mason, Head of CPD 
Date: 22 June 2017

We know optometrists must do continuing education and training (CET) to stay on the GOC’s register, but what’s the difference between doing that and continuing professional development (CPD)? Surely any kind of training counts as development and this is just semantics - different acronyms which mean the same thing.

We certainly have plenty of evidence that members who attend our events or do our CET activities feel that they will make changes to their practice as a result:

"I learnt the benefit of clinical audit, I learnt how this will benefit myself in the future and make sure my records are more clinically sound."
Attendee at regional event

"Made me think about my own criteria for referral."
Participant in peer review session

So these members are developing their professional skills and getting CET points as well. But we also know that among our membership there is a desire to do more, get involved in professional development and stay up to date, regardless of whether CET points are on offer. We know this from feedback we get from you and from the levels of engagement in our CPD activities such as ethical scenarios, case studies and our essential reading and learning lists. Is the difference between CET and CPD less about what it’s called and more about the intention when someone does a development activity?

Taking part in CPD activities shows your commitment to taking control of your own learning and extending your skills and knowledge beyond the required competency framework. All of these are intentions that are about being a professional. It’s also worth saying that CPD is understood across professions, not just optometry, and is a nationally recognised indicator of professional learning.

The Optical Confederation and College Foresight Project report: a discussion of the potential impact of technology on the UK optical sector to 2030 gives optometrists compelling reasons to extend their skills. This report tells us that the impact of new technology on the sector will shift the role of optometrists and require more focus “on interpretation of data, interpersonal skills, and the more clinical aspects of optometry”. The report’s findings are summarised in our member briefing: The optical professions: what does the future hold?

CPD is understood across professions, not just optometry, and is a nationally recognised indicator of professional learning.

New technology is one imperative for keeping up to date but we also know that there are many personal reasons for doing CPD. You can feel more plugged into your job, more in touch with your profession and more in control of your interaction with patients. These intentions are hard to measure but suggest there is a difference between CET and CPD.

Tell us whether you agree and let us know what kind of CPD you want and which topics you need to learn more about by using the comments feature below.

We want to offer our members plenty of CPD opportunities in the coming year and are already working hard to plan a season of events, peer discussions, webinars, online learning and briefing materials to keep you plugged in and in control.


Barbara Mason
Head of CPD, College of Optometrists

Barbara has a background in education and training and has worked with the College since 2011 on a range of projects, including higher qualifications, the Guidance for Professional Practice and developing a range of websites. Barbara now oversees the Directorate of Optometric and Continuing Education (DOCET) and member CPD developments.

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