GP Appraisals - Your personal development plan

Dr Rodger Charlton advises on what is involved in compiling an impressive PDP for your next appraisal.

It is sensible to prepare your next PDP with revalidation in mind, even though rollout has been postponed

A year can rush past so fast that it may seem like only yesterday you wrote your last personal development plan (PDP).

Suddenly it is time to update it for your next appraisal and consider what happened with all the learning you wanted to do and courses you hoped to attend.

Also, it is sensible to prepare your next PDP with revalidation in mind - even though its rollout has been postponed for a year to 2012/13 and some requirements may be simplified.

PDP table example entry
What development needs do I have?  How will I address them? Date by which I plan to achieve the development
Preparing for revalidation and maintaining good medical practice Keeping a CPD log for supporting information area no. 6 of the 13 areas required for revalidation  31/05/11  To log CPD as self-assessed RCGP learning credits (learning from different sources) and detail their impact

Strengthened appraisals
Under revalidation 'strengthened' appraisals will take place so more needs to be included in your PDP.

As revalidation stands now, twice every five years you are likely to be required to conduct a clinical audit in which you take a significant role. You will also need patients' and colleagues' feedback through a patient satisfaction questionnaire (PSQ) and a multi-source feedback (MSF) questionnaire respectively. See the RCGP's Guide to the Revalidation of General Practitioners (Version 4) at for more information.

However, the PSQ and MSF feedback requirements have been cut down from two to one of each every five years.

Think about how you intend to log your reflections on your learning, whatever form it takes (a clinical meeting or an eModule, for example) and the likely impact on your practice, as well as how to self-assess this as CPD credits.

PDPs should be SMART
Your PDP should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a timetable (SMART).

Whatever goals you put in your PDP, make sure that you can reach them in a year. Or if, for instance, aiming for a diploma in dermatology or pharmacology to become a GPSI, agree a longer plan and record it in your PDP.

Plans not in your PDP
Often during your appraisal year, a new development need occurs, perhaps in relation to gaining a skill in a new area such as commissioning.

As an appraiser, I would encourage you to go ahead with it as it is difficult to allow for everything in a PDP. It is fine if you can demonstrate you have fulfilled learning in this new area - and can justify its need at the expense of another PDP item.



Use the GMC's four domains and 12 attributes in Good Medical Practice to help you compile your PDP:


Knowledge, skills and performance
1. Maintain professional performance
2. Apply knowledge and skills to practice
3. Keep clear, accurate and legible records

Safety and quality
4. Have systems to protect patients and improve care
5. Respond to risks to safety
6. Protect patients from any risk posed by your health

Communication, partnership and teamwork
7. Communicate effectively
8. Work constructively with colleagues
9. Establish and maintain partnerships with patients

Maintaining trust
10. Show respect for patients
11. Treat patients and colleagues fairly
12. Act with honesty and integrity

What makes a good PDP?
Focus on the different areas that you want to learn about and try to avoid including too much non-specific learning such as 'attending clinical meetings' and 'reading clinical journals'.

Even so, including these things is acceptable as long as you write notes of your reflections on each article you read and each clinical meeting you attend and the impact on your practice.

Including certificates of course attendance is also fine if you record on them three things you have learned that you will include or change in your practice or that affirm that you/your team provide best practice.

When compiling your PDP table, there is a helpful template in the NHS Appraisals Toolkit (available online since February 2010 at Your first entry might look something like the table above.

What to include in your PDP
The NHS Appraisals Toolkit is a helpful guide based on the GMC publication Good Medical Practice (

A new Revalidation ePortfolio is being developed, which will map on to the four current domains and 12 attributes of Good Medical Practice and be available soon at

Remember to include details of a significant event audit including a review of any complaints, your reflections, what you have learnt and what you have changed. If you have an extended role, such as being a GP teacher or GPSI, include material in your PDP relating to this.

  • Dr Charlton is a GP principal and GP appraiser in Solihull and associate clinical professor at Warwick Medical School
CPD IMPACT: earn more credits

These further action points may allow you to increase the credits claimed.

  • Having read this article, re-examine your last PDP with a critical eye. Have you achieved most or all of your learning goals? Reflect on those you did not achieve. Were they unrealistic?
  • Log learning achieved from different sources of CPD, as self-assessed RCGP learning credits in your portfolio at
  • Use the RCGP Guide to the Revalidation of General Practitioners (Version 4) to familiarise yourself with the requirements for 'strengthened appraisals'.
  • Check the online NHS Appraisals Toolkit for your next PDP.
  • Remember, to double credits an impact must be justified by recording a change in your practice.
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