Newly-qualified GPs: Planning your CPD

Dr Anish Kotecha provides advice for newly-qualified GPs on creating a personal development plan (PDP) and identifying areas for CPD.

(Photo: skynesher/Getty Images)
(Photo: skynesher/Getty Images)

It can sometimes be difficult to identify areas that you should concentrate on for CPD. A key part of this is setting up a personal development plan, which GPs need to create and work towards throughout the following year. This article hopes to inform newly-qualified GPs, how to make a start with these important topics.

What CPD should you be doing?

The GMC suggests CPD is any learning that helps maintain and improve performance. Its purpose is to help improve the safety and quality of care provided for patients and the public as well as the standards of teams and services.

Individual doctors are responsible for identifying their own CPD needs, planning how these should be addressed and undertaking learning that will support professional development and practice.

The CPD you undertake within a year should cover competence in all areas of work. It doesn’t have to be learning about clinical matters, topics like running a practice, taking on a leadership role or understanding finances might be equally important depending on the work you do.

CPD does not necessarily have to be planned. Informal learning based on a patient you have seen might be particularly useful because it is linked to a personal experience.

Formal CPD opportunities

Formal opportunities can be found in a variety of ways, including the following (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Attending local RCGP or health board/CCG CPD events
  • Listening to medical podcasts
  • Attending CPD events held by private organisations
  • Using webinars
  • Completing e-learning modules

Forming small CPD groups can be a helpful way of discussing difficult cases, reviewing journals and facilitating educational sessions towards appraisal and revalidation.

Ideally minutes should be taken of the key themes and any action points. Educational meetings held within a practice can be a useful source of learning.

Reflecting on your practice

The key to effective CPD should include reflecting on your own practice. Specific evidence might be taken from audit data, discussions with colleagues, complaints or compliments, significant events, patient and colleague feedback and any service improvements.

Another way of reflecting on cases is to think about PUNs (patient’s unmet needs) and DENs (doctors educational needs) and thinking about how to fulfil these voids.

PDPs

A PDP should be owned by an individual (personal), developmental (making progress) and a plan for the future.

Your PDP forms part of annual appraisal and is a GMC requirement. You will need to discuss your PDP during your appraisal and set out goals and objectives for the coming year.

To develop your PDP it is useful to initially reflect on personal progress within the past year. For newly-qualified GPs, the PDP for your annual review of competence progression (ARCP) should be carried forwards to your first appraisal. This will highlight areas that have gone well but also identify gaps in knowledge or possible weaknesses in your skillset.

Setting short- and long-term personal goals and prioritising them is the next step. It is more important to set a few good quality items rather than having several badly-thought through ideas. Usually three or four are enough for a particular year.

Once there is a clear endpoint, you should form an action plan to achieve them. This needs to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timed). To ensure a PDP is of sufficient quality, learning points can be framed with a description of how it has arisen, why it is on the your agenda, how it might be achieved, how the outcome will be demonstrated and how it will make a difference.

It is helpful to regularly evaluate and update your PDP because priorities might change over time. Reviewing and measuring progress at certain times within the year can be a helpful guide to re-assessing goals or re-setting deadlines.

Using a mentor

After losing the security GP trainees have with their trainers and programme directors, newly-qualified GPs can often struggle to identify good quality CPD and develop PDPs for their first appraisal.

Finding a mentor who has more experience in identifying CPD and developing PDPs can also be extremely useful if you have any difficulties in any of these areas can also be extremely useful.

  • Dr Kotecha is a GP in Gwent, South Wales

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