Scientific Foundations of Continuing Professional Development

Congruent with the overall purpose of the CPDI, a research agenda should be developed that has collaboration and integration as its guiding principles, with the goal of enhancing knowledge of continuing professional development and ultimately improving patients’ health outcomes. Research efforts should be developed through the collaboration of all individuals and organizations that conduct CPD, receive CPD, and benefit from CPD research, including the public. To support professional learning and development aimed at improving patient outcomes, research should inform practice, and practice should inform research by translating advances in medical knowledge and techniques into clinical practice much more quickly than now occurs.

CPD research should build knowledge about the theory of professional development, the methods used for CPD, and the measurements taken—all as related to the improvement of patient care quality, safety, and value. Other disciplines that are relevant and ought to be integrated into CPD research include adult education, organizational change, psychology, sociology, and systems engineering. These disciplines can shed light on behavior change in complex systems and help evaluate the impact of educational interventions on health outcomes.

Role of the CPDI in Research

The CPDI should develop the research agenda by establishing a comprehensive, collaborative research structure or center that coordinates CPD research and theory. It will also address its linkages to quality improvement, professional learning, and individual professional career advancement, system performance, and appropriate measurement. To hold the CPDI accountable for the development of a research agenda, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) should periodically monitor the CPDI’s progress.

The CPDI is intended not to be a replacement for current research but to involve current researchers in creating a better system. Thus, the CPDI should serve a collaborating and convening function to foster a more comprehensive and integrated research structure. The focus on research that supports innovation, greater sources of funding, and improved patient care is incentive for researchers to participate in this effort. As part of a convening role, the CPDI

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