Doctors need more support for CPD – GMC research

Press Release

15 Apr 2013

New research from the General Medical Council (GMC) suggests that employers need to do more to support all doctors in their professional development.

This research will help the GMC provide what support and guidance it can to doctors so they make the most of their professional development opportunities.

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the GMC

The study - based on 60 interviews with a variety of organisations - suggests there is a lack of support for locums, doctors outside training grades and some of those employed in the independent sector.

It also found that although many doctors understand the importance of reflection, they often don’t know how to do it and struggle to find time to reflect on their learning. 

The research will improve the GMC’s understanding of how it can better support doctors’ continuing professional development (CPD) throughout their careers including helping doctors apply what they learn to the care they give to patients. 

The research, which involved royal colleges, deaneries, mental health trusts and clinical commissioning groups, also found that: 

  • CPD is most effective when there is a direct link with a doctor’s personal development plans and their appraisal 
  • Revalidation could help make CPD more effective over time
  • CPD should be linked to an organisation’s priorities and not just an individual doctor’s professional goals
  • Doctors need greater support to implement their CPD if the effects are to be long-lasting – it should not be done in isolation  

The research made a number of key recommendations including making sure that doctors have sufficient time to complete CPD, highlighting the importance of CPD provision being available to all groups of doctors, the importance of employing organisations supporting doctors’ CPD, and ensuring public and patient involvement. 

The GMC will work with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and others to improve the support and advice it gives to doctors on CPD and the importance of reflecting on their practice. 

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the GMC, said: 

‘As doctors we pride ourselves on keeping our professional skills and knowledge up to date so that we continue to provide the best possible care to patients. 

‘Revalidation ensures that all doctors take part in professional development but we need to have the time and space to undertake CPD, then be enabled to reflect on what we have learned and put it into our day to day practice. This research will help the GMC provide what support and guidance it can to doctors so they make the most of their professional development opportunities.’ 

Read the CPD research.