Keeping up-to-date

Every doctor is required to demonstrate how they keep up-to-date across their whole scope of practice.

The GMC says

The purpose of carrying out and reflecting on continuing professional development (CPD):
  • To help you keep up-to-date and competent in all the work you do.
  • To maintain and enhance the quality of your professional work across your whole practice.
  • To encourage and support specific improvements in practice.

The GMC's requirements

  • You must carry out CPD activities every year.
  • Your CPD activities must cover the whole of your practice, and be tailored to your scope of practice and needs.
  • Your learning needs and plans for your CPD should be reflected in your personal development plan for the coming year.
  • CPD should focus on outcomes or outputs rather than on inputs. You must reflect on what you have learned from the activity and how this could help maintain or improve the quality of your practice.

You must reflect on your CPD activities and discuss them at each annual whole practice appraisal.

If you provide the full range of general medical services in undifferentiated primary care, the RCGP recommends that you demonstrate at least 50 CPD credits per twelve months in work, irrespective of the number of sessions worked. Over the five-year revalidation cycle this should cover the breadth of the RCGP curriculum, including clinical, managerial and leadership skills. If this has not been possible, for any reason, you should provide an explanation, analysis of the implications and make plans to redress the balance (if appropriate). This should be discussed with your appraiser, included in your new PDP, and agreed with your responsible officer.

  • One credit = one hour of learning activity.
  • Emphasis should be placed on the quality of the CPD. 50 hours of learning activity does not guarantee that all educational needs have been met. You should do as much as you need to do to keep up-to-date across the whole of your scope of practice.
  • If you provide a restricted range of services, rather than the full range of general medical services in undifferentiated primary care, it may be appropriate for you to provide fewer than the recommended 50 CPD credits per twelve months, provided that a detailed explanation and justification is reflected on during the appraisal, documented by your appraiser and agreed with your responsible officer. You will need to demonstrate that you will not be asked to work outside the scope of practice for which you have kept up-to-date.
  • For periods of work that are more or less than twelve months, such as when your appraisal month has changed, or there has been a significant period of time out of work, such as maternity or sick leave, the RCGP recommends that you should demonstrate a number of CPD credits proportionate to the time you have spent in work, and provide an explanation during the appraisal, which the appraiser should include in the summary of discussion. It is not appropriate to try to do 'catch up' CPD just to accumulate CPD credits although you must do enough to regain and maintain your competence at what you do.
  • When you feel you have any particular learning needs you should target appropriate CPD to meet those needs.
  • Keeping a structured learning log to capture CPD credits throughout the year is recommended. There are helpful apps available which can support you to include key elements such as date, title, time taken, and reflection on key lessons learned. It is best practice to consider impact on practice and any changes made as a result of learning.
  • There is no need for you to scan, or provide, copies of certificates for appraisal and revalidation where learning has been demonstrated through an appropriate reflective note (although it may be best practice to keep certificates for mandatory training defined by an employing organisation, so that you could provide them on demand).
  • The importance of demonstrating impact is emphasised by the opportunity to claim CPD credits for time spent on all learning activities associated with demonstrating impact and implementing changes.
  • You are encouraged to reflect on any impact that your learning (from any CPD, QIA, SEs, feedback, complaints or compliments) has had on your practice and to include it in the CPD log as separate learning activity, allocating accurately the time taken.
  • It is best practice to document a balance of learning methods and experiences over the five-year cycle. You should consider your individual learning needs and wants (personal learning), your targeted needs (based on cases, data, events or feedback) and non-targeted general updates (to identify and meet 'unknown unknowns').
  • It is best practice to ensure you include participation in CPD with colleagues inside and outside your normal place of employment over the five-year cycle. Team-based learning strengthens the team. Attendance at external events ensures that your practice is calibrated with others and avoids professional isolation.
  • Emphasis should be placed on the quality of the CPD activities rather than simply on the number of hours spent.

Next: Review of practice >

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