Continuing professional development : opinions, awareness and compliance challenges experienced by radiographers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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Introduction: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has been introduced as a means to ensure that professionals continuously update their knowledge and skills. In addition, CPD has become a mandatory requirement by the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA). However despite CPD being mandatory, health professionals nationally and internationally alike have experienced numerous challenges obtaining the required CPD points/hours. Some of these challenges included lack of awareness of the CPD requirements, lack of available activities, lack of employer support, lack of funding and a lack of time to participate. No studies have been conducted amongst radiographers working in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), to determine if they are affected by similar challenges hence the need for this study. Purpose The purpose of this study was to identify the opinions, level of awareness, participation, and challenges related to CPD compliance by radiographers in KwaZulu-Natal, and to ascertain their suggestions for improvement to CPD practices in order to make recommendations to the HPCSA. Method A quantitative, descriptive research approach using a questionnaire with both open-ended and closed-ended questions was utilized. Radiographers from all four disciplines in Radiography, working in the province of KwaZulu-Natal were included in this study. A five point Likert scale was used for most of the closed questions. The open ended questions allowed respondents to express their opinions freely. The quantitative data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23.0. The inferential statistics included bivariate correlations and Chi-square testing. Open ended questions were analyzed by means of thematic analysis. Results Two hundred and ninety two questionnaires were administered and one hundred and forty six were returned which resulted in a 50% response rate. The mean age of respondents were 31.3 years. The majority of respondents were females (85.6%). Most of the respondents were diagnostic radiographers (80.8%) hence 59.6% were shift workers. Fifty percent of the respondents were employed in the public health sector. Respondent’s acknowledged the importance of CPD however majority indicated engagement due to the mandatory requirements by the council. The most common challenges identified were lack of funding and time. Suggestions for having formal polices in place and allocation for financial support were recommended. A number of respondents suggested having an online database for the systematic recording of CPD points in order to improve the audit process. In this study relationships between different variables were tested. It was noted that a progression in rank resulted in a greater level of agreement that CPD does improve professional competence. The infrequency of CPD engagement was directly affected by the difficulties associated with evidence and record keeping of CPD activities. The lack of funding was a greater challenge amongst the public health sector employees as opposed to the private sector. It was also noted that a lack of employer support affected how often respondents engaged in CPD activities hence support from employers was deemed crucial. Conclusion Radiographers working in KwaZulu - Natal were experiencing numerous CPD challenges. Suggestions were made to overcome these challenges as well as improving the auditing system by the HPCSA.