Retired Chartered Quality Professional Eric Martindale on choosing learning goals to suit you and how to achieve them.
My name is Eric Martindale and I’m a retired Chartered Quality Professional with the CQI. I used to work as a compliance manager at the NHS Medical Microbiology Laboratory in Glasgow, retiring in June 2014 after 43 years.
I’ve always enjoyed microbiology as a science and in the past 12 years of employment in that field of quality I gained laboratory accreditation in ISO 17025 – general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories – and ISO 15189 – the standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories.
However, it wasn’t until retirement that I realised it wasn’t just a job but a passion. The hunger for knowledge, self-oriented learning and continual improvement is ever present. I now work part-time for the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as a technical expert assessing laboratories against ISO 15189:2012 and maintaining my continuing professional development (CPD) is still a top priority.
As a biomedical scientist I not only need to retain my Chartered Scientist and Chartered Quality Professional status, but I also need to maintain my registration with the Health and Care Professions Council as part of my employment with UKAS. The only way to do this is by evidencing that I am undertaking CPD that helps me enhance my competence and skills. I wanted to share some of the ways I have done this with my peers in the hope that it will help them too.
- Act as a mentor – I lecture at Glasgow Caledonian University to biomedical scientists on a variety of quality issues. Although I only lecture two to three times a year, the role requires me to stay up to date with current issues – not just in the laboratory arena but also in the wider world of quality. Therefore, I make sure I have a keen eye on the latest trends. However, lecturing is also a chance for me to pass on the knowledge I’ve learned in my working life to those making their way up the career ladder.
- Meet like-minded individuals – I regularly attend the CQI’s West of Scotland branch events whenever possible in order to meet with my peers and engage in debate. I recently attended the ‘ISO 9001:2015 in a nutshell’ briefing on the latest revision to the quality standard and it was very informative. These kinds of presentations are a good source of material for reflective practice and for debating issues with others in the field.
- Never stop learning – I make good use of the ‘News, Views and Analysis’ section of Quality World magazine in my lectures, adapting the learning outcomes to my own field of interest. I also share my reviews of the latest industry reading material with my quality peers and vice versa. I would recommend ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed and ‘Beat the Cuts’ by Rob Worth to those looking for an informative read.
- Create an annual plan – even in retirement you need to be organised. My annual plan centres on maintaining my knowledge of new and developing techniques in laboratory medicine, such as molecular processes. I’ve dovetailed that with my interest in family history and enrolled on an eight-week online course in genetic genealogy at the University of Strathclyde. UKAS also requires me to review the latest publications and technical policy statements for assessment purposes as it can, at any time, call on evidence of my CPD. It’s comforting to know I have this readily available if need be.
Even in retirement my philosophy has always been ‘use it or lose it’ and that is why I’m keeping the grey cells stimulated with CPD, as well as the muscles (swim and gym). I’ve collected many quality quotes over the years but one of my favourites is: “If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave. The moment he does more, he is a free man.” When one is passionate about quality and science there is something really enjoyable in lifelong learning.
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