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GMC publishes new guidance on continuing professional development

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  20 Jun 2012


The General Medical Council has published new guidance on continuing professional development (CPD) to help doctors stay up to date and prepare for revalidation.

The guidance—developed after consultation with doctors, medical royal colleges, employers, patients, and the public earlier this year—describes how doctors should plan, carry out, and evaluate their CPD activities.

It also describes how doctors should use information from their CPD within their annual appraisals, which will form the basis of their revalidation once every five years.

However, the guidance stops short of prescribing specific types of CPD that doctors should take part in or the amount that should be completed in a year. The GMC suggests that it will periodically identify and publicise issues—such as developments in medical practice or changes in the law—that all doctors or particular groups of doctors should learn about through CPD.

“Continuous advances in medical science mean that all doctors need to ensure they are always at the leading edge of medical practice,” said Peter Rubin, chairman of the GMC. “Lifelong learning is the key to ensuring that doctors keep up to date, and this new guidance will support doctors in their efforts to achieve this.”

CPD encompasses any learning outside undergraduate education or postgraduate training that helps doctors maintain and improve their clinical and non-clinical practice. Types of CPD include journal clubs, courses, practice audits, and online learning modules.

The new guidance outlines how doctors should plan, carry out, and assess their CPD against the main domains in Good Medical Practice: knowledge, skills, and performance; safety and quality; communication, partnership, and team work; and maintaining trust.

CPD should be a mix of formal and informal learning at local, regional, national, and international levels, it adds. Some of the learning should focus on how to improve the way that multiprofessional teams work, and some should comprise peer based, specialty specific learning.

An information sheet for employers also published by the GMC emphasises that employers and contractors of doctors’ services should facilitate access to the resources, including time, that will help their medical staff to complete CPD.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

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