Whether by professional body obligation or as a voluntary option, almost every professional within the medical sector undertakes some form of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which includes Doctors, Surgeons and Physicians. CPD can be defined as the ongoing education for doctors following the completion of formal qualification and training. There are over 30 professional bodies and associations within the healthcare & medical sectors with implemented CPD policies. CPD enables doctors, surgeons and physicians to improve their specialised capacities as part of an ongoing professional commitment. This article covers the main CPD requirements, how many CPD points a doctor, surgeon or physician is required to complete as well as some additional information.
Why do Doctors and Surgeons have to complete CPD?
As a general view, the purpose of Continuing Professional Development for Doctors is to help improve the quality of care provided to patients and the public. Within the medical industry at all levels, CPD for Doctors is a high priority. Professional bodies in the healthcare & medical sectors requiring CPD include; British Medical Association, General Medical Council, General Dental Council, British Dental Association, Royal College of Nursing, Institute of Nursing, Nurses & Midwives Council, British Psychological Society, Health and Care Professions Council, Royal College of Physicians, National Pharmaceutical Association and the General Optical Council.
The General Medical Council states;
"Continuing Professional Development and Continuing Medical Education are frequently used interchangeably, most literature has now defined CME as being an ingredient of CPD. CPD is a process that includes continuing medical education. Many countries are now moving from a knowledge and skills-based CME system, towards a system that promotes the wide-ranging competencies needed to practice high-quality medicine."
The General Medical Council
The Department of Health states;
"In the NHS, CPD is determined through appraisals with personal development plans agreed between individuals and their managers. A key development in ensuring that healthcare professionals maintain their competence is the move among regulatory bodies to develop CPD strategies for the revalidation/re-certification of their members."
The Department of Health
How many CPD points do I need as a doctor, surgeon or physician in the UK?
All licensed doctors, surgeons and physicians are expected to complete annual CPD in order to keep up to date and be seen as fit for practice. Good medical practice requires doctors, surgeons and physicians to be responsible for identifying their healthcare CPD needs, plan how these are addressed, and partake in CPD training and learning activities to maintain and improve professional standards. Doctors must complete revalidation every 5 years, which includes providing evidence that CPD has been completed. Specific CPD requirements for specific professions such as for surgeons and physicians are outlined by the appropriate Royal Colleges of Medicine in their respective fields. Typically doctors, surgeons and physicians are expected to complete a minimum of 250 hours of CPD over a 5 year period, averaging out as 50 hours per annum.
CPD points for Doctors UK – Is it points or hours?
One of the most frequent questions about Continuing Professional Development is, “What is a CPD point or unit?” and then frequently, “How do CPD points relate to CPD Hours?” With the increasing number of medical professional bodies in the UK and their varying annual requirements of Continuing Professional Development, a natural split in common language terms and expression will arise. Different professional bodies use the terms ‘CPD points’, ‘CPD units’ or ‘CPD credits’ varyingly but it is often found across all industries that CPD points and units relate to the same thing, CPD Hours. The definition of a CPD Hour is the time spent for a delegate to be in “active learning”. Active learning defines the actual time spent learning something relevant for their Continuing Professional Development objectives.
A great example of this would be 1-day accredited CPD training course. If the training starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm, with a 1-hour break for lunch, the CPD Hours would be 7 CPD Hours. It is estimated that 95% of all professional bodies and certainly in the medical industry use CPD Hours as their Continuing Professional Development measure. Where the terms CPD points and units are used, these are in a typical 1:1 ratio with CPD Hours. By this, it is meant that typically 1 CPD point equals 1 CPD Hour.
Healthcare CPD for International Doctors
Many countries already have established healthcare CPD in the medical & healthcare sectors, with more countries taking steps towards a national CPD framework. International Doctors have the responsibility to remain competent wherever they practice. It is the responsibility of doctors, surgeons and physicians to remain competent within their roles irrespective of region and location.
What are the key benefits of CPD for Doctors?
Put simply Continuing Professional Development helps to enable doctors to stay focused on short-term improvements which will have a positive effect on long-term goals and objectives. Professional development helps doctors, surgeons and physicians become more competent and effective in their roles. Regular CPD training naturally increases confidence and abilities. CPD enables doctors to adapt to required industry changes and improvements in patient care. Completing CPD shows a clear commitment to self-development in a demanding industry with limited personal time.
What types of CPD activities can doctors and surgeons do?
There a typically three different types of CPD, with various CPD activities associated with each. Structured CPD / active learning involves interactive and participation-based study. It is proactive and includes attending training healthcare courses, conferences, workshops and seminars, e-learning course or a CPD certified event. Reflective learning involves no participant-based interaction, so this form of CPD is much more passive and one directional. Examples of reflective CPD learning include reading relevant news articles, podcasts & case studies and industry updates. Some informal meetings can be applicable to CPD reflective learning, but the learning objectives of these meetings must be made clear in an individual’s overall CPD plan. Self-directed learning involves all unaccompanied CPD activities, such as the reading of articles and publications, books by leading experts, industry journals and trade magazines are all types of self-directed CPD.
This article was aimed to help provide an overview of the Continuing Professional Development requirements and benefits for doctors, surgeons and physicians. For more information please visit our CPD Explained page.
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