Collecting CPD learning credits

How to achieve learning credits as a GP and what evidence is required to support them. By Professor Rodger Charlton

As part of revalidation, GPs need to collect supporting evidence, ideally in an electronic portfolio.

It is suggested that GPs should collect a minimum of 50 'learning credits' a year.

If GPs can collect 250 credits or more in a five-year cycle, they will have met the requirements in relation to CPD. Essentially, one learning credit equates to one hour of learning.

The emphasis is on reflection, rather than merely attending an event. For supporting information to be adequate for CPD, learning credits must be more than a certificate of attendance. In fact, scanning certificates into your electronic portfolio can be time-consuming and will not be what your appraiser wants.

How to achieve a learning credit

A learning credit is one hour of learning. It is important to state what the learning has been and what the impact is. When making a record of the learning credit, state what the learning event was, such as attending a clinical meeting, and what its impact is. State whether it affirmed your good practice or highlighted the need to change your practice.

Two simple questions will help you to reflect on the learning. Ask yourself 'So what?', then note three things you have learnt. Then ask yourself 'How did it make you feel?', for example, in relation to your current practice.


Appraisal is now an 'enhanced appraisal' for revalidation. Your appraiser will want to see evidence of learning as a result of reflection. They will expect your learning to be in a variety of clinical areas and formats.

There have been details published about being able to 'double' your learning credits. However, this is a bit of a misnomer.

To double your credits, you have to provide evidence that you have put into practice something new that you have learnt and essentially that would mean an audit as evidence.

All GPs do more than 50 hours' learning anyway, so it is just a matter of recording them. There is no need to double them in this way and try to justify it to your appraiser, unless you wish to conduct lots of audits.

New learning formats

The RCGP guidance suggests different formats for learning. These can include lunchtime meetings, electronic modules, case discussion at a practice meeting, PUNs (patients' unmet needs) and DENs (doctors' educational needs), a course, a new skill, having an extended role as a medical teacher, or perhaps mentoring a colleague.

There is an expectation that all of your supporting information, such as learning credits, is kept in an electronic portfolio. There are many portfolios available and pros and cons for each one. The key is to get into the habit of entering any learning completed within a day or so, while the reflections are fresh in your mind.

The worst thing is to comb through your diary trying to remember what you attended a week before your appraisal. This is stressful, so pick an electronic portfolio you like and that your commissioning group supports, and get into the habit.

Your GP appraiser and the responsible officer will appraise your learning in detail. It is important to say that you self-assessed your own learning and estimated the number of learning credits you feel justified in claiming. These are then verified by your GP appraiser. Aside from the learning credits, there is also other supporting information that you need to collect.

I feel I am gaining more from my learning events and using a personal development plan. I am identifying my areas of learning need and can plan for the year what I need to learn, how I am going to learn, enjoying my CPD and then justifying this as learning credits.

Reflect on this article and add notes to your CPD Organiser on MIMS Learning

  • Professor Charlton is a GP, associate clinical professor at Nottingham Medical School and honorary professor at Swansea University
GP iPad app

When you download the GP iPad app, you can read every issue of GP magazine in an environment specifically designed to help you learn and record CPD credits as you enjoy the publication. You can bookmark articles, create notes, search across issues and share your learning in just a few quick taps.

So if you already have an iPad, why not download the app now? If not, enter our fantastic competition to win one of two iPad minis and start learning the easy way.



These further action points may allow you to earn more credits by increasing the time spent and the impact achieved.

  • Reflect on your next learning event and to help you reflect on what you learnt, ask yourself: 'So what?' and 'How did it make you feel?'
  • Enter your reflection in an electronic portfolio. Over the past four weeks, which learning events have you not entered? Have a go at entering these too, asking yourself the same two questions.
  • During the next clinical meeting, make short notes using a smartphone or tablet and email them to yourself for your portfolio.

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