Professional development guidelines for safety specialists

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What to look for when choosing learning opportunities

by Dylan Short, Chief Learning Officer, 3P Exchange

Safety professional developmentIn a changing world, ongoing professional development helps those in occupational health and safety careers remain connected to leading knowledge and practices. Lifelong career learning allows for the discovery of new possibilities, opportunities, knowledge and skills, as well as exposure to relevant frameworks for applying newfound knowledge and skills. 

Commitment to ongoing professional development also demonstrates a commitment to growth and helps safeguard your professional position. By being engaged in the process, you can help advance the overall body of knowledge of your profession and help continue the conversation with your peers.

What does quality professional development look like?

Many certification and designation bodies have ongoing requirements for Continuing Education Units (CEU), Continual Professional Development (CPD), and Certification Management Program (CMP). While requirements for calculating specific CEU, CPD, and CMP can vary, the quality of the following factors are paramount:

  • Relevance to your needs: Learning opportunities are broad ranging however if you focus on finding relevant learning opportunities, the experience will be more rewarding

  • Defined learning outcomes: The most important part of any course description is learning outcomes. The best descriptions allow potential participants to determine exactly what they will have learned by the end of the session. 

  • Access to tools, resources, and processes: Many sessions deliver great ideas and information, however look for ones that deliver tools, resources and processes that you can take back to the office and apply immediately.

  • Access to speakers and peers: Quality learning sessions are designed for a general audience. One way to make sure you meet your specific professional development needs is to attend events that encourage conversations and discussions with peers to share questions and ideas, and facilitate access to those presenting.

While some of the quality elements are easier to assess than others, you are investing your time and resources to attend the event, so if you’re unsure, ask the event organizer or others who have attended the event and get clarity about what you will receive as a participant.

In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein stated, “intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” That sentiment still holds true in the 21st century as we benefit from owning our own personal “intellectual growth” through the wise selection of professional development opportunities on our career paths.

Dylan Short is Chief Learning Officer at 3P Exchange with more than 15 years of experience as a business owner, Director of Education, Vice-President Safety, and Not-For-Profit Board Leader.