Managing your CPD

“Continuing professional development (CPD) helps improve the safety and quality of care provided for patients and the public.”
Continuing Professional Development, Guidance for all doctors, GMC

CPD is any learning outside of undergraduate education or postgraduate training that helps you maintain and improve your performance. It covers the development of your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of your professional practice. It includes both formal and informal learning activities.

Your Learning needs - personal learning styles

Defining learning needs

Thinking about PUNs and DENs is now an established way of focussing CPD to maintain a focus on patient care – where P.U.Ns represent Patient’s Unmet Needs and D.E.Ns are the Doctor’s Educational Needs. (See the RCGP  Guide to the Credit-Based System for CPD Ch 8). Various log sheets can be found online including the Quality MK PUNs and DENs booklet.

Making the most of your learning style

A quick questionnaire from the Open University may help you to think about your learning style, so that you can adapt the way you study to make it more effective.

Personal and Professional Development Plans

The PDP is a formal means by which to identify and lay out your goals, often aligned with requirements from regulatory or statutory bodies around CPD, as well as to meet organisational needs, and personal aspirations.

You can begin by reviewing and assessing your current performance. Look to the future too, considering your aspirations, opportunities and threats to your career progression.

Your plan should be specific on your aims and objectives, action plans and proposed learning activities, time frames and outcomes to meet your goals, and set realistic dates for review and any related meetings.

See the free BMJ Learning module Top tips on developing your personal development plan.

Choosing the right approach

You can take advantage from a mass of learning opportunities to continue our professional development – formal or informal, directed or self-directed methods.

Self-directed CPD activities: reading, attending meetings, observing colleagues, practising clinical skills, keeping up to date, systematic reflection on practice, peer group discussion, coaching, professional committee work, personal study and research, preparation of new/updated material for teaching, training or publication,

Directed CPD activities: online learning, professional supervision, attendance at training courses, workshops or conferences, further education to gain new qualifications.

You may consider training in leadership or developing skills in quality improvement.

Making the most of technology

There are a wide range of educational activity in which the use of computers and technology can be an effective vehicle for knowledge exchange. It may involve the use of some, or all, of the following technologies: desktop and laptop computers, software, including assistive software, electronic communication tools (email, discussion/chat facilities, blogs, wikis), Virtual Learning Environments, eLearning activity management systems, video conferencing, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and mobile phones.

Making the most of workshops and events

Although most people enjoy a mixed diet of approaches to CPD, we can simply opt to attend a workshop without thinking it through.

  • On the plus side attending events can be reinvigorating, even inspiring, allow time for networking and enable inter-professional learning, and create some valuable ‘head-room’ away from the practice. Read the pocket guide for facilitators and educators of all professions.
  • On the downside, there is a risk that some events may be too generalised to be helpful, and generate a passive rather than engaging or action–oriented approach for learning.

A little planning can be the key to getting the most out of the time and money invested in attending a conference.


Once registered with the Royal College of GPs, those beginning GP specialty training are given access to the RCGP Trainee ePortfolio. The RCGP has partnered with Clarity Informatics to provide a revalidation ePortfolio toolkit for GPs.

If you are a member and subscribe to any of RCNi’s journals, you will have access to the RCNi Portfolio.

GPTools  is a appraisal and revalidation toolkit for doctors which allows you to record your CPD activity via your smart phone.

See the following for more information

Mentoring and coaching is available and free for all NHS staff within Thames Valley and Wessex. Find out more on the Leadership Academy here.


Page last reviewed: 16 November, 2021