Being a ‘professional’ is a privileged position in society as it enables a person to practice as an independent practitioner accountable only to the persons they serve and their professional body. In the case of the medical profession this is the General Medical Council.
In exchange for being able to operate as independent practitioners doctors are required to maintain their professional standards, remain competent and up to date in all areas of professional practice. This is the personal responsibility of the doctor.
The General Medical Council sets out the framework of principles and behaviours that should guide a doctor through their or CPD for short. The title emphasises that this is not a one off exercise but a continuing process throughout a doctors working life. Developments in medical practice, drugs and technology occur at such a pace that it is imperative that doctors can remain up to date with current best practice.
CPD is defined by the GMC as “any learning outside of undergraduate or postgraduate training thet helps you maintain and improve your performance It covers the development of your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of your professional practice. It includes both formal and informal learning activities.”
The aims of CPD are to maintain and improve
- The quality of care the doctor gives to patients and the public
- The standards of the teams and services in which the doctor works
The content of a doctor’s CPD, and how they go about it is up to the doctor to determine. It will be guided by their own reading and awareness of what is going on in the field of medicine, from audit activities and feedback from patients and colleagues. The appraisal process is an important vehicle by which learning needs can be explored and plans made for a CPD programme over the coming year.
The GMC emphasise the importance of a doctor reflecting on all aspects of their work and the standards of medical practice that they give. Doctors must also reflect on what they have learnt from their CPD activities and record whether it has had any impact on their performance and practice.
Although CPD is the responsibility of the individual doctor, they need to be able to demonstrate effective CPD activity through the appraisal process which, in turn, informs the revalidation process. It is also relevant should a doctor’s individual performance give cause for concern and be subject to formal performance evaluation.
GPs require access to high-quality courses and material for their professional development. The LMCs work closely with the Royal College and Education England (The LETBs) to promote such opportunities. The LMCs are represented on local Education England Boards to ensure that the training requirements of GPs remain paramount.