Further reading taken from and abridged from the General Medical Council guidelines on CPD – www.gmc-uk.org
What is Continuing Professional Development?
In ‘Good Medical Practice’ the General Medical Council states, ‘You must keep your knowledge and skills up to date throughout your working life. In particular, you should take part regularly in educational activities which maintain and further develop your competence and performance.’
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a continuing learning process that complements formal undergraduate and postgraduate education and training. CPD requires doctors to maintain and improve their standards across all areas of their practice – this includes all the professional roles that doctors currently perform and those that they plan to perform – which could include advising a patient who’s travelling or acting as a doctor on an expedition.
The ultimate purpose of CPD is to contribute to high-quality patient care. As a result, CPD should take into account the needs and wishes of patients. CPD should also encourage and support specific changes in practice and career development.
Doctors are responsible for keeping themselves up to date in all areas of their practice. CPD allows doctors to demonstrate that they are maintaining their skills in their practice. It also allows doctors to develop professionally and to learn from more informal experiences.
CPD opportunities should take into account the environment within which medicine is practised.
Credit-Based System for Continuing Professional Development
Doctors can record their own CPD which is based on the activity and the impact that it has on the doctor, their patients and the service. Credits are self-assessed and verified during appraisals and, in due course, for revalidation. In essence one hour of education is one learning credit. However, for general practitioners, if that education leads to changes for patients, the doctor or the practice, GPs can claim two learning credits for each hour of such education.
Principles for CPD
The way in which individual doctors take part in CPD will depend on: their specialty; the opportunities available; their priorities; and their personal learning styles and preferences.
CPD contributes to improved patient healthcare and to a healthier society.
Each individual is responsible for taking part in and recording their own relevant CPD activities.
CPD also helps doctors to improve their professional effectiveness, career opportunities and work satisfaction.
Assessment measures, where available, should be used for part of doctors’ CPD. These measures should allow doctors to be clear about how they are developing. They will help doctors to judge their progress.
Content of CPD activity
Individual doctors need to keep themselves up to date in all areas of Good Medical Practice. These are:
- good professional practice;
- maintaining good medical practice;
- relationships with patients;
- working with colleagues;
- teaching and training;
- probity and health.
What doctors do in their CPD should be relevant to their practice, so, should:
a. take into account the context and environment of their practice; and
b. explore the benefits of learning across professional disciplines and boundaries.
Most doctors have always carried out CPD activities and identified experiences and opportunities for CPD in their work. Doctors must recognise the need to record enough CPD to meet appraisal and revalidation requirements. Doctors should think carefully about all their learning experiences to help them provide the highest quality patient care. To maintain and improve their practice doctors must be involved in different types of activity. They must also be able to recognise opportunities for CPD in their professional lives.
The role of organisations
Doctors will normally look to a relevant organisation for help with CPD. These organisations can provide advice on what to do and how to collect the evidence required. They can also help doctors to confirm that they are taking part in CPD in a suitable way.
There are several different ways in which organisations might be involved. These include:
a. providing general and specific guidance;
b. assessing or recognising courses;
c. providing colleagues of the same professional level who can monitor CPD activities and confirm that they have been carried out; and
d. confirming that the activities were suitable for CPD.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has published a helpful framework for involving royal colleges in CPD called
CPD: Ten Principles:
1. An individual’s CPD activities should be planned in advance through a personal development plan, and should reflect and be relevant to his or her current and future profile of professional practice and performance. These activities should include continuing professional development outside narrower specialty interests.
2. CPD should include activities both within and outside the employing institution, where there is one, and a balance of learning methods which include a component of active learning. Participants will need to collect evidence to record this process, normally using a structured portfolio cataloguing the different activities. This portfolio will be reviewed as part of appraisal and revalidation.
3. College/Faculty CPD schemes should be available to all members and fellows and, at reasonable cost, to non-members and fellows who practise in a relevant specialty.
4. Normally, credits given by Colleges/Faculties for CPD should be based on one credit equating to one hour of educational activity. The minimum required should be an average of 50 per year. Credits for un-timed activities such as writing, reading and e-learning should be justified by the participant or should be agreed between the provider(s) and College/Faculty directors of CPD.
5. a) Self-accreditation of relevant activities and documented reflective learning should be allowed and encouraged.
b) Formal approval/accreditation of the quality of educational activities for CPD by Colleges/Faculties should be achieved with minimum bureaucracy and with complete reciprocity between Colleges/ Faculties for all approved activities. The approval/accreditation process and criteria should be such as to ensure the quality and likely effectiveness of the activity.
6. Self-accreditation of educational activities will require evidence. This may be produced as a documented reflection. Formal CPD certificates of attendance at meetings will not be a requirement, but evidence of attendance should be provided, as determined by each individual College or Faculty.
7. Participation in College/Faculty based CPD schemes should normally be confirmed by a regular statement issued to participants which should be based on annually submitted returns, and should be signed off at appraisal.
8. In order to quality assure their CPD system, Colleges/Faculties should fully audit participants’ activities on a random basis. Such peer-based audit should verify that claimed activities have been undertaken and are appropriate. Participants will need to collect evidence to enable this process.
9. Until alternative quality assurance processes are established, the proportion of participants involved in random audit each year should be of a size to give confidence that it is representative and effective. This proportion will vary according to the number of participants in a given scheme.
10. Failure to produce sufficient evidence to support claimed credits will result in an individual’s annual statement being endorsed accordingly for the year involved and the individual subsequently being subject to audit annually for a defined period. Suspected falsification of evidence for claimed CPD activities will call into question the individual’s fitness for revalidation, and may result in referral to the GMC/GDC.