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. 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 this would be considered Workplace Training.
A6. 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".
A9. Orientation of new staff is not considered a CPE activity. Most orientation of new staff is focused on the organization, policy and procedures versus practice. Orientation of new staff is generally viewed as part of employment requirements.
Most social workers engage in orientation of new staff as a professional courtesy and obligation. The quality of the orientation may vary depending on the knowledge and experience of the social worker providing the orientation. Staff orientation however is not an activity that is easily evaluated by an external source such as a regulatory body.
A10. "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.
A14. The CPE definitions within SASW policy are similar to the primary roles and functions that social workers use in practice. That does not mean that the activity meets the intent of CPE. If your role involves the delivery of a 4 hour session on a specific topic multiple times, each delivery should not be submitted as CPE. This is your regular job. It may be reasonable to claim hours for developmental work or to refresh the workshop from time to time.
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?
A20. If the Committee work is part of your employment requirement it should not be claimed as CPE. The intent of this category within the CPE definitions is intended to support the engagement of social workers in community level activities.
The Education Committee will be reviewing "Committee Work and Board Meetings" and determining if changes are required to this activity.
A21. If you know you have a scheduled training event at the time of renewal you should submit the event. If the event does not take place you will need to notify the Registrar of SASW. This circumstance may occur in situations where the member needs the event to meet the 40 hour requirement. The registrar may request verification of the event.
In cases where you have submitted the required 40 hours CPE at time of renewal any CPE submitted after renewal will be credited toward the following year. For example, if you renew in October, and then attend a workshop in December, you can go into the online system and enter the Dec workshop. It will automatically be credited to the next year’s hours.
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”.
However, depending on the role a member may take within the context of this type of work there may be activities undertaken that may qualify for CPE. For example, if a member is required to review policy and legislation to inform the work of the Executive or Committee that is relevant or impacts social work practice than it could be claimed as “self-directed” learning. If the member undertakes specific research to produce a position paper to inform policy/program those hours may be claimed for CPE under “Research and Writing” (Category B).