Making Time for Professional Development
By Michele Perry, MLT
We all know that professional development is important and necessary. For most of us we need it to maintain a licence or it’s a requirement from our employer. Our lives are busy and finding time for PD is becoming an increasing challenge. If we can‘t find the time then we will just have to find a way to make it. Here are five ways to help make time for professional development.
- Set attainable and specific goals: What professional development goals would you like to achieve? Is there a new position coming up in your workplace? Would you like to complete a CSMLS Knowledge Certificate? A Certificate of Continuing Professional Studies (CPS)? Complete the CSMLS Professional Enhancement Program (PEP)? Does your provincial regulatory body require you to complete a specified amount of continuing education?
Make a list of goals and set a realistic time line to reach them. Make sure your goals are both short and long term.
- Find a topic that interests you: It will be easier to find time for professional development if it is a topic that you are interested in. You will be engaged, involved and look forward to learning more about it. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Have you been working in the hematology lab all of your life but are interested in knowing more about a particular chemistry topic? Challenge yourself. You may not find a new topic easy to understand but it will be rewarding when you do finally figure it out. Many kinds of learning opportunities exist. Informal learning can include reading laboratory related journals, magazines and online publications. For a more formal approach, take a course. Plenty of free courses are included with your CSMLS membership. Learn a new language or skill. Check out your local college as they often have learning opportunities that may only take a weekend. Use your professional membership for volunteer opportunities, free courses and seminars, and access to conferences and meetings.
- Create a learning plan: Choose courses or education that will meet your specific goals. Sit down with a calendar (use your smart phone or your computer) and design a way to achieve them. There are many templates available to you online. Be realistic when planning as it is impossible to complete a year’s worth of PD in one weekend. Start small by making a plan for 6 months or one year. Once you start achieving your goals you will be more likely to set more for the long term.
- Block time: Make a “learning appointment”. There will never be enough hours in the day for us to accomplish all the things we need to do. You have to make it happen. Make your appointment as distraction free as possible. Don’t answer the phone, reply to emails or watch TV. Make sure your family and friends are aware of your study time and you won’t be available. If something unplanned cuts into your study time, make up for it as soon as possible.
- Find hidden professional development opportunities: You may be learning and not even realize it. Volunteer to be on a committee. CSMLS, provincial societies and regulatory bodies all provide volunteer opportunities. These opportunities will open doors for further professional development. Volunteering will offer new, exciting and challenging opportunities. You will meet new people, create new professional relationships and help your profession grow. Remember, you don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn.
CSMLS offers 3 exciting ways to set goals for professional development:
- Offered in three skill levels, Refresher, Basic and Advanced.
- Complete a group of specified courses to obtain a certificate.
Professional Enhancement Program (PEP):
- Recognize your professional development activities
- Requires 60 hours of professional development over a consecutive two year period.
Continuing Professional Studies (CPS):
- Formal recognition of advanced knowledge and skills gained after initial certification.
- General and specialty options available.
Michele Perry is the Manager of Learning Services at the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). This article was originally published in the Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science (CJMLS), Vol. 76, no. 2 (2011). It has been republished here with permission.