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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the collective name for ongoing learning activities, including courses, reading, and teaching that professionals do to develop and enhance their abilities and keep their knowledge up to date. On this page, we will dive into the world of CPD and explain the different types of CPD, how to find good opportunities for CPD and how to record CPD activity in your portfolio.
Section 1: What is CPD
What is CPD?
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the term used to describe the ongoing learning activities that professionals do to develop and enhance their abilities. Engaging in CPD activity shows that you are working to improve your medical knowledge and skills.
What are the different types of CPD?
There are three categories of CPD:
1️⃣ Structured / Active Attending training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, eLearning courses, or CPD-certified events are all examples of structured or active CPD.
2️⃣ Reflective / Passive Watching training videos and tutorials, and attending non-interactive lectures are all examples of reflective or passive CPD.
3️⃣ Informal / Self-Directed Discussions in forums, reading books, articles, and publications are all examples of informal or self-directed CPD.
Section 2: How to get CPD
What kinds of CPD do I need to do?
The GMC states that your CPD should cover your ‘scope of work’ or ‘scope of practice.’
This is the sum of all of the things you do in your working time. If you work mostly as a locum, but also provide teaching for medical students, and do some private sector work, then all three of these roles must be covered (proportionately, based on the amount of time you spend doing each) by your CPD.
What would balanced CPD look like?
Your CPD log should demonstrate that you are learning more about the specialty you work in, and that you are improving your skills in managing your patients.
- A Grand Round discussion about hip fracture
- eLearning teaching about polypharmacy
- A clinical skills session about how to set up a syringe driver for End-of-Life patients
- An online course about managing violence and aggression in the elderly
- Attending a conference or seminar about dementia prevention
- A workshop on breaking bad news, or discussing TEP/DNACPR forms with patients and their families.
- Read and reflect on recent research on heart failure management
- Listen to and reflect on a podcast exploring elderly patient experiences in hospital
- Watch and reflect on a documentary or film about end-of-life care in the NHS
How can I get CPD?
There are a number of ways you can get CPD, depending on your work circumstances.
😫 I’m a trainee If you are a trainee then teaching will be scheduled into your rota. You should keep a record of all of the teaching you attend over the year. You will also have a study budget and study leave to attend additional CPD opportunities throughout the year.
🤓 I’m a clinical fellow If you are a clinical fellow, you may be invited to attend junior doctor teaching with the trainees and will probably also have a study budget to attend courses, conferences, and workshops during work time.
😏 I’m a trust grade or locum doctor If you are a trust-grade or locum doctor, you may not have the same opportunities and provisions as the trainees or clinical fellows. If you don’t want to spend your own money attending conferences and courses, then you can try finding free courses, conferences, eLearning, or groups to get CPD.
You can read more about how to get CPD points as a Locum doctor here.
Ideas and inspiration for free CPD
📩 Email the educational lead: Whoever is in charge of the junior doctor teaching programme at your local Trust may let you attend in your free time if you ask politely, particularly if the teaching is virtual and your attendance doesn’t cost the Trust any additional money.
🚑 eLFH: Go to NHS England’s eLearning for Health Hub for eLearning that gives certificates. Try the MECC (making every contact count) course, which is widely applicable to many specialties.
🎓 Coursera: Explore free health courses on Coursera. The Science of Wellbeing course is a self-directed learning programme that is exceptionally well received by its students.
🗯️ Conferences: Find out what local conferences are happening near you and contact the host to offer help setting up/cleaning up after in exchange for free entry.
💻 Newsletter: Read through the weekly emails sent out by your trust for information about Grand Rounds and other CPD (often virtual) that you may not know about.
🎯 MAST: Did you know that Mandatory and Statutory Training (MAST) can count as CPD? Make sure that you record the title of the session, the key learning points, and a brief reflection of how the learning might change your practice.
📖 Journal Club: Check out Messly’s Journal Club for succinct summaries of interesting new research. Time spent reading journals and reflecting on their findings for your own practice is valid CPD.
🦠 Medall: Visit Medall to see a list of free online medical teaching events.
🤓 Online courses: Check out this website for a list of CPD-certified courses and events.
☕ Peer groups: Join a peer group and agree to give each other teaching either as one day of presentations or on a regular basis.
🖊️ Self-directed reading: Read a chapter of your Oxford Handbook and write a summary/teaching guide on it. If it’s good enough, you could pop it on youtube or on amazon as an eBook and make some extra money on the side!
Section 3: How much CPD is required
How much CPD do I need to do?
As a trainee, you will have a programme of learning and a CPD requirement for the year set by your training programme.
As a non-trainee, the GMC states that you must carry out CPD activities every year that are tailored to your scope of practice and needs, and that you must reflect on your CDP activities and discuss them at each appraisal.
The GMC states that you must carry out CPD activities every year but it doesn’t give a value for how much you need to do.
Generally, the minimum accepted number for a full-time locum or employee is 25 hours per year (or 25 points) but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Some royal colleges ask for 50 points per year with at least 25 of that done as formal CPD and the other 25 done as informal (i.e. self-directed learning) CPD. If you are working less than full-time, you can calculate the estimated amount of CPD you need to do here:
|Clinical %||Clinical Hours||Locum Shifts||CPD Expectation|
40 clinical hrs/wk
>5 locum shifts/wk
~25 CPD hrs/yr
32 clinical hrs/wk
4 locum shifts/wk
~20 CPD hrs/yr
24 clinical hrs/wk
3 locum shifts/wk
~15 CPD hrs/yr
16 clinical hrs/wk
2 locum shifts/wk
~10 CPD hrs/yr
8 clinical hrs/wk
1 locum shifts/wk
~5 CPD hrs/yr
0% (not working)
0 clinical hours
0 CPD hrs/yr
What happens if I don’t do any CPD?
It is generally accepted that everyone could do with a bit more CPD, but that there aren’t enough hours in the working week to get it all done.
Though you are expected to do CPD throughout the year as part of your appraisal, it is very unlikely your appraiser will ‘fail’ you on the basis of CPD. They may ask you some uncomfortable ‘on-the-spot’ questions about what you have learned, and may strongly encourage you to prioritize CPD in your new PDP, but don’t panic. Worst case scenario, they postpone the date of your appraisal by a few weeks so that you have some time to fit some more in.
If you are struggling to fit structured CPD around working hours, then think about pre-recorded online learning or short eLearning modules that you can slot into lunch breaks or free time, and won't take up your whole day.
👉 If you are not working at all (i.e. taking time off work for health reasons or to travel, or for maternity leave) then you can easily explain the lack of CPD for the period of time that you were off.
👉 If you are working less than full-time or taking time out of clinical medicine, then your appraiser should take this into consideration at your appraisal and review your CPD accordingly. You won't be expected to do as much CPD as a full-time worker.
👉 If you are working full-time and still haven’t done any CPD, then think about any bedside teaching you’ve had, or reading you may have done that could count as CPD. If you can reflect on what you learned, or get any certificate of attendance you may be able to count it.
Section 4: CPD Evidence
How do I record my CPD activity in my portfolio?
Group your CPD in your portfolio in reverse chronological order (most recent first) according to medical calendar year (Aug - July, or your appraisal calendar year if this is different).
You should keep a record of any CPD activity that you do so that, when you get asked to show evidence of your CPD, it is easy for you to recall what you attended over the year.
2️⃣ Evidence: You may not always be able to provide it, but evidence can be certificates of attendance, certificates of learning, a completed worksheet or workbook, or any other proof that you attended the session.
3️⃣ Reflect: You should provide a brief reflection (a couple of short sentences are fine) on how the CPD may influence your clinical or professional practice.
What does the CPD section of the MAG look like?
The MAG form (Medical Appraisal Guide) is the document that non-training doctors in England use for their medical appraisals. In order to complete the MAG, you have to upload evidence of CPD for the previous year.
Section 7 of the MAG form is where you show your CPD record for the year.
You can upload your CPD in any format that works best for you. It can be written directly on the document, uploaded as photos, screenshots, or scans of certificates, or uploaded as a word document, excel spreadsheet, or PDF. It doesn’t really matter how you upload your CPD so long as you can provide some evidence that you’ve done some, and learned from it.
Note the sections on the MAG form that ask for the date and a brief summary of the CPD activity. If you are attending junior doctor teaching, make sure you write down the title of the topic discussed, and a brief summary of your learning or any changes you’ll make to your practice. It is much easier to do this at the time of the talk than to try and remember what a 30-minute teaching session was about 7 months down the line.
At the end of your appraisal, you and your appraiser will agree on a new Personal Development Plan (PDP) in Section 18 going forward. They usually contain some reference to CPD (because by its nature it is ‘continuous’) but if you are working less than full time, or in a non-substantive (non-contracted) post then you should collaboratively agree on what is reasonable and achievable.
- 📚 CPD
- Section 1: What is CPD
- What is CPD?
- What are the different types of CPD?
- Section 2: How to get CPD
- What kinds of CPD do I need to do?
- What would balanced CPD look like?
- How can I get CPD?
- Ideas and inspiration for free CPD
- Section 3: How much CPD is required
- How much CPD do I need to do?
- What happens if I don’t do any CPD?
- Section 4: CPD Evidence
- How do I record my CPD activity in my portfolio?
- What does the CPD section of the MAG look like?