European Centre of Excellence for Research in Continuing Professional Development

The aim of the European Centre of Excellence for Research in Continuing Professional Development (UPGRADE) is to establish a pan-European network of researchers, clinicians, regulators and professional bodies to advance the science of continuing professional development (CPD) through research, fostering partnerships that enable knowledge exchange to attain CPD best practices across Europe.

We have three critical goals:

  • To support collaborative research projects among European and national partners.
  • To build networks among academic and clinical practice colleagues and organisations to boost CPD research.
  • To develop and strengthen national CPD systems in European countries through data-driven knowledge about CPD best practice.

To learn more about what we do, please read our Information Booklet.

European CoE for CPD Research – Information Booklet PDF | 6001.8 KB

Our vision

To advance the science of CPD for healthcare professionals in Europe that ensures quality and safe people-centred care.

Our mission

  • Create and implement a European leadership entity specific to the science of health professional CPD (HP-CPD).
  • Develop and strengthen CPD research projects among European and national/international partners.
  • Implement outcomes and a policy-focused programme of CPD research.
  • Conduct, build and facilitate CPD research via networks among academic and diverse CPD experts.
  • Leverage standards to drive change via evidence-based practice and data-based outcomes towards a shared vision of CPD. 
  • Build a digital knowledge centre of CPD best practice, inclusive of information exchange for how CPD is developed and delivered via health information technology.
  • Translate CPD research outcomes into evidence-based practice, disseminating research findings to attain quality patient care and safety.
  • Collaborate with European and global policymakers to make an impact at EU level.
  • Promote health and well-being in European communities via the science of HP-CPD.
  • Implement a moral imperative of CPD to ensure professional dignity and advance the scope and practice of healthcare among people as patients, health professionals and health systems.

Our values

We embody the values of: 

  • Respect – transparency, integrity and respect for all persons.
  • Innovation – a 'Culture of Discovery' in research that impacts outcomes via entrepreneurial energies.
  • Collaboration – unique strengths and expertise among partners working collaboratively to realise a shared vision of excellence.
  • Inclusion – embrace, promote, and be accountable to equality and diverse perspectives via HP-CPD in healthcare systems for all peoples.
  • Strategy – engage in evidence-based decisions that make a difference in patient care and safety.
  • Passion – fervent commitment to people-centred care, people's values and empowering healthcare professionals to deliver quality healthcare.
  • Excellence – activating professional standards imbued by quality, integrity, discover and ethics throughout programmatic activities.
  • Ethics – principles of beneficence, non-maleficence and justice underlie professional codes and decision-making in the quest of CPD.

Our research is structured around three research working groups (RWGs). The aim of each RWG is to organise, co-ordinate and develop key CPD research activities. We collaborate with experts in specific fields to guide our initiatives, and interdisciplinary collaboration permeates the activities of each group.

RWG 1:
Impact of CPD

RWG 2:
Digital pedagogies for CPD

RWG 3:
Economic impact of CPD

  • Evaluate the impact of CPD activities on patient care, quality and safety outcomes.
  • Investigate the impact CPD activities have on the organisation and workforce, and the impact the organisation can have on the success or failure of CPD programmes.
  • Explore how data on patient healthcare outcomes can be related to CPD activities.
  • Investigate how digital technologies can facilitate CPD for healthcare professionals.
  • Explore how different approaches to teaching and learning can be applied to educational approaches for CPD.
  • Investigate the economic impact of CPD on healthcare organisations.

Professor Mary Lynch

Professor Lynch is a registered general nurse, and holds a MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and a PhD in Health Economics, both from Queens’s University Belfast. She is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE (SFHEA), and a trained Social Return On Investment (SROI) practitioner. She holds honorary visiting professor roles at the Faculty of Life Science and Education, University of South Wales, and the School of Health and Life Sciences, University of West of Scotland, where she provides health economic expertise for joint research projects and PhD studentships. Prof. Lynch collaborates on research addressing health and wellbeing issues that take a life-course approach to the methodology, and conducts economic evaluation of public health interventions.

Her methodological expertise is in applying non-market valuation techniques; stated and revealed preference techniques; incorporating Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), Social Return on Investment (SROI) in estimation of social value of public health interventions. Prof. Lynch's specialism is in the field of social prescribing and research interests span the areas of public health, environment, behaviour change and valuing public goods and services. Her portfolio of research extends to health and wellbeing, physical activity, nature-based social prescribing, use of community assets and rurality. She has successfully attracted funding from a range of sources including the Welsh Government, Health and Care Research Wales, ESRC, NESTA, KESS 2, Welsh European Funding Office: Accelerate Wales Programme and European Regional Development Fund, Interreg VA 2Seas Mers Zeeën and NIHR.

Dr Cathy Fitzgerald

Cathy FitzgeraldDr Fitzgerald is a research fellow with the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at RCSI. Her current role is to implement and rollout the European Centre of Excellence for CPD research, and scope the development of a WHO Collaborating Centre in the Faculty. She works with national and external European collaborators from both academia and industry.

Previously, Cathy has worked as a nurse, midwife and specialist community public health nurse and has clinical experience in Ireland, UK, Australia, USA and India. She has a a Master's in Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham USA, and a PhD in Public Health from University College Dublin. During her PhD, she conducted a longitudinal cohort study examining the clinical outcomes of children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) both clinically and those detected through the newborn bloodspot (NBS) programme. 

Dr Giuseppe Aleo

Giuseppe AleoDr Aleo (MA, PhD) is a Research Assistant with the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at RCSI. His current role is to support the work and research activities of Dr Cathy Fitzgerald at the Centre. 

Giuseppe has a Master's Degree in Foreign Languages and a PhD in Public Health and Prevention at the University of Genoa. He has taught Scientific English for over 20 years to undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral nursing students in Italy, and has 16 years of experience as a CPD Officer at the IDI Dermatological Hospital and Research Institute in Rome. He collaborated with the Italian Nursing Regulatory Board to support the establishment of the European Council of Nursing Regulators in Brussels, and with the Nursing Regulatory Board of Rome to support the establishment of the first Centre of Excellence for Nursing Scholarship in Italy. For his doctoral thesis, he conducted a national multicentre survey to study sun-safe behaviours, personal risk, and knowledge about cutaneous melanoma in the general population.

Niamh WalshNiamh Walsh

Niamh Walsh currently works as a researcher with the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at RCSI. Her current role is to support the work and research activities at the European Centre of Excellence for Research Continuing Professional Development (UPGRADE).

Niamh has worked as a nurse and clinical nurse manager in intellectual disability services in Ireland with more than 25 years’ experience across the health sector. Niamh has a BSc in Nursing, PgDip in Gerontological Nursing and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences Specialist Nursing by research. 

  • Professor Thomas Kearns (Director of the UPGRADE Centre of Excellence/Executive Director of the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, RCSI)
  • Professor Nigel Harrison (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)
  • Professor Dyanne Affonso (RCSI)
  • Professor Cristina García-Vivar (Department of Health Sciences, Public University of Navarre, Spain)
  • Mr Mircea Timofte (President of the Romanian Order of Nurses, Bucharest, Romania and of the European Council of Nurses, Brussels, Belgium)
  • Dr Lamproz Bizas (Treasurer of the Executive Board of the Hellenic Regulatory Body of Nurses, Athens, Greece)
  • Dr Nina Kilkku (School of Social Services and Health Care, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland)
  • Dr Paulann Grech (Department of Mental Health, University of Malta)
  • Professor Zoltán Balogh (Head of Nursing Department, Vice-Dean for Clinical Relations, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University Budapest, Hungary)
  • Dr Aisling Culhane (Research and Policy Advisor, Psychiatric Nurses’ Association Ireland, Sallins, Ireland)
  • Dr Mario Gazić (President of Croatian Nursing Council, University of North, Zagreb, Croatia)
  • Professor Theodoros Koutroubas (Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences and Communication, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium/Director General of the European Council of the Liberal Professions)

We are located at the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at RCSI. Representatives are from a variety of backgrounds including academia, regulation and professional associations, which make up our initial membership cohort.

We welcome new members from all healthcare disciplines, including CPD member organisations.

Our current membership includes 40 representatives from 20 countries:

Albania Greece Portugal
Belgium Hungary Romania
Croatia  Ireland Slovenia
Faroe Islands Italy Spain
Finland Lithuania UK
France Malta USA
Germany Netherlands  

Contact us

We are happy to assist you with queries relating to our research. You can contact on any of the channels below.