Continuing Professional Education
The Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers (SASW) Continuing Professional Education (CPE) policy establishes the requirements for completion of annual CPE by registered members. Members are encouraged to undertake reflective practice in which learning needs and goals for practice are the basis for engaging in CPE. What do I want and need to learn? What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Below are a number of questions and answers to provide further guidance and clarification to members on appropriate CPE activities.
The Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers (SASW) is the authorized organization that governs and regulates the profession of social work. SASW through its mandate, has an obligation to ensure professional competence of its members to meet its primary obligation of “protection of the public”. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) has been generally accepted and proven as an acceptable mechanism to assure professional competence.
“Social workers, like many other professionals, have completed programs that provide an educational and practicum basis for entry to practice. As graduation concludes an education, the start of professional practice signals the beginning of lifelong learning. Maintaining competence in service provision should not be aspirational but rather a duty intertwined with working in the best interest of clients. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) aids in increasing individual knowledge and strengthens the profession’s reputation. As a professional, I view CPE as an external mechanism that assists in the development of conscious and critical self-reflection on practice.” (Selena Batemen BSW/MSW/RSW, Director of Professional Practice, BC College of Social Workers.)
CPE should be viewed as activities undertaken by the member to proactively maintain and more importantly to enhance and further develop skills.Social workers work in diverse practice settings and areas of practice. The categories of activities established within the SASW’s CPE policy attempt to capture that diversity and provide a level of flexibility for members. That said, the Category definitions are at times subject to varying interpretation. Part of the interpretations may be the result of the primary roles and functions of social workers within practice. Social workers are often educators, facilitators, mediators, researchers, program developers and mentors to name of few. These same function titles are used to define certain CPE activities. Reflective practice would challenge one to separate what is part of everyday practice and what constitutes CPE that enhances that practice. In other words, how do I separate out what is a task of my job versus what is CPE
A4. Acceptable “online training” has the same intent as the other Category A CPE definitions for more “formalized” education or training opportunities. Generally, the education or training is more in-depth involving a series of interactions to gain knowledge and skill in a specific area of practice. Often online training opportunities of this nature are purchased by the member and a certificate of completion provided upon successful completion of the training.
A6. Although it was delivered within the workplace it should be submitted as a Category A activity, “Workshop” as the training is specific to practice skill and knowledge development.
If the training then led to an in-service training session put on by the employer to educate workers on a new policy or procedure for addressing the issue of suicide these hours would not be claimable CPE hours.
However, if the training was specific to a social work assessment tool embedded within the computer or electronic system, that part of the training may be appropriate CPE. When submitting CPE hours members should ensure they are very specific about what part of the training was practice specific.
A9. There may be certain situations where this may be acceptable. A member must discuss the specific situation with the Registrar and be granted approval before submitting as CPE.
A10. The “Supervising Social Work Students” activity is primarily intended for members who act as the primary supervisor. The primary supervisor is intended to have primary responsibility for the oversight of the student’s development and final evaluation. This requires the supervisor to spend a significant amount of time on supervision.
Other social workers within the organization may spend time with the student to provide the student with exposure to other areas of practice. One could view this as a professional responsibility and obligation
In cases where the student would spend significant time with another social worker to learn about a certain practice area this could be claimed as a Category C activity “Educating Others About Social Work”.
Members orientating to a new practice setting may also find they are doing additional readings to develop knowledge and skills. This activity can be claimed as a Category C under “Self-Directed Learning”.
A14. “Mentoring” is considered a more formalized activity with specific goals and objectives identified within a learning contract. Mentoring is more specific to the development of skills and knowledge to enhance social work practice and outside of what would be considered part of normal workplace responsibilities.
As noted above, orientation is generally more focused on the organization and the policy and procedures of the organization.
Members in these circumstances should guide their CPE activities based on the concept of reflective practice. How does the activity enhance my skills and knowledge?
Q20. I work in private practice. Part of my practice is the development and delivery of workshops to specific population groups. What can I claim as CPE?CPE. The intent of this category within the CPE definitions is intended to support the engagement of social workers in community level activities.
A20. Developmental/research work can be claimed. However, if the same session is delivered multiple time each delivery should not be claimed as CPE.
A21.This does not meet the intent of CPE and is considered a function of the position held within the workplace. Staff supervision is not an activity that is easily evaluated by an external source such as a regulatory body.
Q23. I have been invited to collaborate on a research project primarily due to the nature of my clinical practice. My role is primarily informing the primary researchers as an expert resource and facilitating information to clients for the purpose of enrolling them in the research. What can I claim as CPE hour
If your role is more about informing the research team because of the expertise you have in a practice area, this may be claimed as a Category C activity under “Educating Others About Social Work”.If part of your role is informing clients, for the purpose of enrolling them in the research project, or trouble shooting implementation issues, these hours should not be claimed as CPE.
In general, the meeting or business portion (i.e. review of minutes, financial statements, election of board members, report presentations, etc.) of the AGM would not be considered for CPE hours. However, if the AGM includes an educational portion (i.e. guest speaker on a specific topic relevant to social work practice, presentation of a report that provides new knowledge to the member on a social issue or the agency that supports the members practice ) that portion of the AGM can be claimed.
However there may be specific portions of the training that are relevant to social work practice such as conflict resolution and mediation knowledge and skill development. Portions that would not be social work practice specific may include, managing grievances or progress discipline.
However, members should be guided by the principle of “reflective practice”, how does the activity support the maintenance or enhancement of practice? If the activity informs the member’s practice it may qualify under Category C “Self-Directed Learning”. The member needs to provide the detail and make the link to practice when submitting for CPE hours.
For example, a member may spend time with a First Nations Elder to gain a better understanding of cultural practices or seek input on how to best approach an issue that is present in the community.
A member may attend a sweat lodge to understand the significance for the First Nations community they are working in.
A member may spend time with agencies that are providing services to newcomers to better understand their culture or the challenges and issues facing newcomers in accessing services.
Activities in this category are more informal. Engagement in more formal cultural training sessions such as the “blanket exercise” are claimable a Category A.As always, members should be guided by the principle of “reflective practice” which involves the maintenance and enhancement of social work knowledge and skills. Members engage in many activities that are self-care in nature however they are not necessarily activities that fit for CPE for a regulated profession.