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Doctors need more support with CPD

Survey shows employers need to link CPD with appraisal and personal development plans

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The GMC suggests that employers need to do more to support all doctors in their continuing professional development (CPD). It commissioned new research which found that CPD is most effective when there is a direct link with a doctor’s personal development plans and their appraisal.

The research made a number of key recommendations including making sure that doctors have sufficient time to complete CPD, highlighting the importance of CPD provision being available to all groups of doctors, the importance of employing organisations supporting doctors’ CPD, and ensuring public and patient involvement.

The findings come from a study - based on 60 interviews with a variety of organisations including royal colleges, deaneries, mental health trusts and clinical commissioning groups - suggests there is a lack of support for locums, doctors outside training grades and some of those employed in the independent sector. It also found that although many doctors understand the importance of reflection, they often don’t know how to do it and struggle to find time to reflect on their learning.

The research will improve the GMC’s understanding of how it can better support doctors’ CPD throughout their careers including helping doctors apply what they learn to the care they give to patients.

The research also found that:

  • Revalidation could help make CPD more effective over time
  • CPD should be linked to an organisation’s priorities and not just an individual doctor’s professional goals
  • Doctors need greater support to implement their CPD if the effects are to be long-lasting – it should not be done in isolation

The GMC says it will work with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and others to improve the support and advice it gives to doctors on CPD and the importance of reflecting on their practice.

GMC chair Professor Sir Peter Rubin, said: "As doctors we pride ourselves on keeping our professional skills and knowledge up to date so that we continue to provide the best possible care to patients.

“Revalidation ensures that all doctors take part in professional development but we need to have the time and space to undertake CPD, then be enabled to reflect on what we have learned and put it into our day to day practice. This research will help the GMC provide what support and guidance it can to doctors so they make the most of their professional development opportunities."

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “There has been a lot of focus in the press on the training and education of the future NHS workforce, so it's great to see a report that highlights the importance of the continuing professional development of the existing workforce.

“For too long doctors have seen CPD as being self-determined so I really welcome recommendations that highlight that it should be integrated with appraisal, linked to personal development plans and, importantly, aligned with organisational objectives. Doctors’ time is precious and every hour spent on CPD must be directed in the best interests of patient care.

“We welcome the GMC’s commitment to work with NHS Employers to make sure CPD is more effective for patients, employers and doctors, in the future.”

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