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Professional Development within the NHS

  • November 22, 2018


The General Medical Council requires all doctors to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. When you join the NHS, you will be expected to continue to learn throughout your career and the best way to do this is through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

CPD activities allow you to develop your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of your medical practice. CPD activities include both formal and informal learning activities, such as research, peer reviews, audits, attending courses, conferences, events etc.

Why is it important for me to complete CPD activities?

Continuing your professional development will…

  • Help you update what you learned in your primary medical degree and during your postgraduate training
  • Allows you to keep up to date with any changes to the needs of patients, the health service and policy changes
  • Enables you to keep up to date and fit to practise, and maintain the professional standards required
  • You are required to bring a summary of your CPD activities to your annual appraisal with your Educational Supervisor to show that you have met the requirements for revalidation
  • It allows you to enhance your career opportunities, such as allowing you to work more effectively within multi-professional teams and to develop leadership and educational skills

Remember to record your CPD activities

It is important to record your learning activities, your reflections, learning needs and learning outcomes when evidencing your CPD. One to way to do so is to create an online portfolio – you can typically find this feature within your Royal College’s website or use the GMC’s CPD smartphone application.


The GMC offers a free app to all those practising medicine in the UK. They appreciate that opportunities for learning and development will occur every day, but we do not always have time to write them down, not to mention reflecting on them.

So, the app will allow you to regularly update your CPD quickly and easily.

The app also allows you to:

  • Export your learning activities in a PDF or Excel report so you can share this with your colleagues
  • You can also transfer your activities to other systems, such as your appraisal or revalidation system
  • Take photos and attach them to your chosen learning activity on the app, saving you time in filing certificates from conferences and seminars
  • Access tips and case studies to help you reflect on your CPD and prepare for your next appraisal

CPD Points for Appraisals

Appraisals allow you to reflect on your scope of practice, reflect on whether you are up to date in every area and whether your continuing professional development is appropriately matched with your experience, identify personal and professional development needs and ensure that you are adhering to the GMC’s Good Medical Practice.

Your appraiser will be allocated by your ‘Responsible Officer’ and this varies from Trust to Trust. It is likely that you will have more than one appraiser.

Professional Development Plans

During your appraisal, you will also create a Personal Development Plan (PDP) to help you plan your short-term and long-term career goals.

What is a PDP?

It is an individual plan designed to help identify and address your educational and professional development needs.

For each learning need, you should ask yourself what you want and need to learn, what you will do to achieve it, what resources you will need and target dates for completion. The advantage of developing a good PDP plan is that it will allow you to achieve your potential by identifying your gaps in your knowledge and skills.

CPD Points, PDPs and Appraisals for Revalidation

If you hold GMC Registration with a licence to practise, you will legally be required to revalidate, every five years, through a regular appraisal which will look at your CPD points and your efforts to meet your PDP. This will all be based against the GMC’s guidance for doctors – Good Medical Practice. If you successfully revalidate then you will continue to hold your GMC Registration with a licence to practise.

Types of CPD Activities

Work-based activities

  • Reflective practice
  • Audit of service users
  • Discussions with colleagues
  • Peer review
  • Learning from experience
  • Work shadowing
  • Secondments
  • Job rotations
  • In-service training
  • Supervising staff or students

Professional activities

  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Involvement in a professional body e.g. The Royal College of Surgeons
  • Organising accredited courses
  • Being a national assessor

Formal and Educational

  • Attending courses
  • Further education
  • Research
  • Attending conferences
  • Writing articles
  • Attending seminars

Self-directed learning

  • Reading journals or articles
  • Reviewing books or articles
  • Keeping a file of your progress

If you are an IMG looking for your first NHS post, email your CV to [email protected] and one of our Specialist Advisers will be in touch about UK opportunities.

Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor! Here, you will have access to frequent relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional support and the chance to meet other IMGs!

References (2018). Get the MyCPD app. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018]. (2018). Continuing professional development. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].

Health Careers. (2018). Personal development planning. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2018].


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