Teaching & Learning


Bite-sized CPD courses for dental care professionals

Professor Andrew Eder and Ruth Glover of the Eastman Dental Institute discuss how they developed a range of ‘podcourses’.


10 September 2013

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is the process of lifelong learning which helps to keep a professional’s knowledge up to date.

CPD is compulsory for all members of the dental team and was introduced for Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) (i.e. all non-dentists in the dental team, including dental nurses, therapists, hygienists and technicians) in 2008 – and the levels of CPD required are not trivial.

The CPD requirement for DCPs is 150 hours per five years, 50 hours of which have to be verifiable.

Affordable training options for busy professionals

Some people might consider such a requirement to be an imposition as it’s a time-consuming task for people who’ve already got full-time jobs (especially if it involves travel to attend a course) and it can be expensive.

However, we wanted to turn it into an opportunity, not least because it offers significant benefits to patient care.

We decided to tackle both the cost and the time challenges by creating an ‘any time, anywhere’ training option at a reasonable cost, and we came up with the idea of creating a range of ‘podcourses’ called DCPbites.

These are instantly accessible via the internet from any location and cost just £3.75 each – and because they can be listened to at any time chosen by the individual, they need not intrude upon a busy work schedule.

Using podcasts for training

The podcourses begin with a 20-minute podcast.

When we began offering the courses, we only offered audio content, but we then received a Teaching Innovations Grant which enabled us to create videos to complement the existing podcasts, because we think these two forms of media are the most effective means of conveying information.

While there are a lot of magazines and books out there, they’re less easy to digest whilst on the move and we wanted to offer a solution to people who would prefer not to spend a huge amount of extra time on this.

After the 20-minute podcast or video, the learner has to do around 20 minutes’ independent study (usually reading) and then take a 20-minute, multiple-choice test. They can only complete the course once they’ve scored 100% on the test, although they can do it as many times as it takes to get it right.

Upon successful completion, participants receive a verifiable CPD certificate which conforms to the General Dental Council’s regulations.

A gateway for further learning

When people register for a course, they purchase credits rather than paying individually per course. You can buy anything from one credit upwards, enabling large organisations to purchase credits for, say, 1,000 nurses in one go.

The potential audience for DCPbites is around 60,000 people, but only about 300 are currently registered.

We’d like to grow this number but it’s hard to obtain funding for marketing and publicity, which is what we need to focus on in order to increase the courses’ exposure.

We’re hoping that DCPs will be attracted by the fact that DCPbites is run by the Eastman Dental Institute, which has an excellent reputation, and that they’ll then be tempted to also come and try some of our hands-on courses – we’ve got something of a head start on this as very few other universities are offering similar training.

Feedback for the existing podcourses has been positive, and so we are now hoping to be able to invest in creating more video content – and in doing so, help more DCPs complete their CPD in as simple and stress-free a manner as possible.

Further information