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Daiva Verbyla, Manager, Professional Development, National Office

The APS Board of Directors recently determined that from 1 July 2007 all APS members holding the membership grade of Associate Member or above will be required to complete Professional Development (PD) activities for continuing APS membership. Although PD has been compulsory for APS College members since 1997, participation in the APS PD program for non-College Members and Associate Members was previously voluntary.The APS Board's recent decision was taken to bring the profession of psychology in line with other professions such as medicine, dentistry, engineering, teaching, accountancy and law that require their members to engage in PD or continuing education programs. The Psychologist Registration Boards around Australia have also made it clear that there will be a requirement for all registered psychologists to complete mandatory PD in the near future.

The Society's PD program aims to promote the maintenance and improvement of quality psychological services offered by its members, in a manner which demonstrates the accountability of APS psychologists to their clients, their professional colleagues, the community and to themselves. Participation in professional development is an ethical requirement for psychologists; the Code of Ethics states that psychologists "...shall bring and maintain appropriate skills and learning in their areas of professional practice" (General Principle II - Competence). The APS has continued to promote and support PD activities for all its members, including those in rural and remote areas.

Details of new Professional Development requirements

From 1 July 2007, all APS members will be required to accumulate a minimum of 60 PD points over a two-year period as a requirement of membership of the APS. This will be a continuing PD requirement over subsequent two-year cycles following the completion of the first two-year period.

Full Members and Associate Members

All full Members and Associate Members of the APS are required to engage in PD activities equivalent to 60 PD points over a two-year period. The first cycle of the new PD program begins on 1 July 2007 and ends on 30 June 2009.

APS full College members

The PD requirements for College members remain as they currently are. For College members, a minimum of 30 of the 60 PD points are required to be ‘specialist' points to maintain membership of each APS College. Members of more than one College need to accrue an additional 30 specialist points for each College. For example, if a psychologist is a member of the APS College of Neuropsychologists and a member of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists, the total PD point requirement over a two-year cycle is 90 points. Of the 90 points, at least 30 points should be specialist Neuropsychology points and 30 specialist Clinical points. The remaining 30 points (to reach a total of 90 over a PD cycle) can be obtained through participation in either generalist activities or specialist activities. The current cycle of the existing College PD program was completed on May 31 2007. The new cycle will commence on 1 July 2007 and end on 30 June 2009.

Generalist points

This term refers to PD points allocated to activities that are psychological in content but not necessarily in a specialist area. Generalist PD activities are classed as those which present information that would be appropriate for all psychologists.

Specialist points

This term refers to PD points related to activities that meet criteria for endorsement or have been endorsed by the relevant APS College as continuing education in that specialist area.

PD activities and point allocations

The following list provides examples of activities that satisfy the APS PD program requirements and the associated PD point allocation.

ACTIVITY  POINT ALLOCATION 
PD recipient   
Workshop 1 pt per hour 
Professional courses  1 pt per hour 
Conference  1 pt per hour 
Symposium/lecture  1 pt per hour  
Video & audio resources  1 pt per hour  
Internet-based learning  1 pt per hour  
Reading (articles or book chapters)   1 pt per hour  
Relevant postgraduate studies in psychology  30 pts per year
Supervision (includes both supervisor & supervisee)  1 pt per hour  
Overseas conferences and seminars  1 pt per hour  
PD provider   
Teaching, lectures, seminars, workshops
(for presenters, first presentation only)
1 pt per hour 
Conference/poster presentation  5 pts per presentation 
Publications  10 pts per publication 
Research - grant application  5 pts per presentation 

 

Recording PD activities

Currently, APS Members are required to maintain a record of their attendance and involvement in PD activities, including relevant documentation of PD activities, using the PD logsheet. The APS National Office is in the process of developing a web-based PD logging system that will allow members to log their PD directly online. A preliminary version of this system is currently being trialled with APS College members who are already fully conversant with the current APS PD program. All members will soon have access to the online PD logging system.

A complete PD Information Guide and the PD logsheet can be downloaded from the APS website (www.psychology.org.au) under ‘PD and Events'. The PD Information Guide also includes endorsement guidelines developed by each APS College.

APS supports for new PD requirement

The APS recently set up a separate Professional Development Unit within the National Office, which will oversee an expanded PD program for APS members. This will include the provision of quality workshops around Australia and trials of a variety of delivery modes to accommodate members in rural and remote locations.

To support the decision to implement the formal PD requirement for maintenance of membership, the APS Board has released funds to provide a $50 discount voucher to each member for use at any APS Professional Development activity that he or she chooses to attend (valid until 31 May 2008). It is hoped that the discount voucher will assist members with a smooth transition to the new PD requirements. This provision of the voucher has been made in the context of a better than expected financial result for the Society over the last two years and the desire to ensure that the benefits of this surplus are returned to the APS membership. The discount voucher has been posted with this year's membership renewal pack.

For more information about the new PD system or the online PD logging for College members, please check the APS website under ‘PD and Events (www.psychology.org.au) or contact the PD team at the APS National Office on (03) 8662 3300.