Employers’ Role in Professional Development

“Professional development is anchored on continuous learning, skills & competency development with an aim of attaining professional excellence.”

Last month I was actively involved in matters professional development ranging from participation in curriculum reviews, mentorship programs and coordination of a leadership strategy focused on catering for the welfare & career development of junior pharmacists. I later did a couple of articles to this effect ranging from Skills Development, Nurturing Future Professionals to Promoting Efficiency of Pharmaceutical Systems. This was a worthwhile period for me knowing that through skills development, we are investing in the future of an individual by enabling them to perform whichever tasks they are bound to with more efficiency thus optimum performance. Attaining professional excellence might not be achievable but in pursuit of it, all those in our circles benefit from the outcomes ranging from clients we serve, managers we work under and shareholders we generate returns for. On our account, we realize our potential and earn salaries, commissions and bonuses for such exemplary performance. Why is it then that most people don’t invest in or rather give professional development the attention it deserves?

Being a pharmacist I practice in a highly regulated environment with annual renewal of practice license pegged on earning a stipulated set of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points which means mine is a lifelong commitment to education & learning. As a proponent of education and learning, you already know this is in line with what I advocate for except for the fact that I’d want it to be implemented in a different way. Beyond such requirements for licensing, acknowledging the value of continuous learning in the quality of our work as professionals, it is ideal to have it aligned with employers to invest and have provision for continuous learning as part of their appraisal mechanisms. To make it better, imagine being asked to sign a declaration that for as long as you take up a job, you commit to continue learning as per a specified set of criteria to be determined by one and their line manager. Further to this, such should be with provisions for employees to learn in fields that are not directly aligned with their department or field of practice the same way in university education even upon majoring in a particular area, students are still required to take other courses, termed as minors. These may not be directly aligned to the envisioned area of practice but broadens ones thinking enabling them to gain critical thinking and analytical skills which are important.

Beyond focusing on an individual’s learning it would be even better to have an employee be appraised based on their contribution to their profession by sharing the knowledge and skills with others in the profession either through professional associations, tertiary training institutions or related human capital development organizations in their communities. This then serves to ensure the training of junior professionals are aligned with the current market trends, practice trends are incremental and sustainably advancing the sector or faculty. With such contributions, employers are assured that the future generation of employees they’ll recruit are bound to be competent, tuned to their needs and well versed with the market dynamics. This sets stage for a seamless onboarding process, improved productivity and quality output.

I personally believe it’s time to have employers engaged in continuous professional development not only in the medical field but in every field of practice and have this structured into labor laws. What do you think?

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