What is CPD?

CPD stands for continuing professional development and describes the learning activities doctors need to do to maintain professional standards.

Why do CPD?

There are lots of good reasons to do CPD. Doctors need to keep up to date with the latest guidelines and regulations. This will help you maintain your fitness to practise and strengthen the quality of care and safety you give to patients.

Refreshing your knowledge and skills will enable you to practise with confidence and ensure that professional standards are maintained along with public confidence in the profession. Crucially, it also helps you to meet the requirements of revalidation.

How much CPD do I need to do?

The GMC does not specify how much CPD doctors are required to do. It is generally down to you to determine how much CPD, and what type of CPD to do, for your own practice and professional development.

Nevertheless, doctors must complete revalidation every five years, which includes providing evidence that CPD has been completed, as well as having an annual appraisal.

What sort of CPD evidence do I need?

There are different ways to evidence your learning as part of your appraisal. Reflection is key and the GMC encourages doctors to focus on the outcome and output, rather than input.

  • A reflective note explains what you've learned from an activity and how it has benefitted your practice, rather than simply being a summary of a learning activity.
  • A CPD certificate shows you've completed a specific learning activity such as attending a course or watching a webinar.

Listen to our podcast on reflection, intended to help trainees. And see what the GMC says about the reflective practitioner.

What types of CPD should I do?

You're responsible for your own CPD learning needs and plans. This should be reflected in your personal development plan.

Different people learn in different ways. The mix of learning activities you choose may depend on your time, cost and interests.

You can search our website for courses, e-learning, seminars and journal articles, all of which might be used for your CPD hours.

Is it CPD points or hours?

Most professional bodies, like the MDU, use CPD hours to measure continuing professional development.

A CPD hour is defined as time spent on 'active learning', relevant to your CPD objectives.

A good example of this would be our one-day CPD training course on managing conflict between doctors and patients. Training often starts at 9.30am and ends at 4.30pm, with a one-hour break for lunch, which equates to six CPD hours.

Some specialities impose their own CPD expectations through the relevant royal colleges. These should be considered in addition to the GMC requirements.

What types of MDU CPD activities can I do?

You can make use of different types of CPD learning, as outlined below.

  • Structured CPD with interactive and participation-based learning. For example, attend our one-day face-to-face or virtual training courses on core medico-legal topics. This is where you can get your questions answered by experts, explore different topics and debate with your peers – and get a certificate.
  • Reflective learning can be done by reading our journal articles and doing our medico-legal quizzes or by working your way through our e-learning modules, where you can digest and reflect on key areas of interest such as managing conflicts, communication skills or your duty of candour. This means you can learn in your own time and at your own pace and record your reflections along the way.
  • Staying up to date with medical publications by leading experts is an example of self- directed learning, which can also form part of your CPD hours. Reading medico-legal content on our guidance and advice pages is one way to do this.

This page was correct at publication on 04/08/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.