Medical education is often demanding and lengthy. This is especially true in the U.K., where becoming a healthcare practitioner requires one to complete an undergraduate education, medical school, a year of internship training, and a two-year foundation program before one can begin to train in a specialty. Its almost as if the phrase “life-long learning” was created for healthcare professionals in the U.K.

On top of the education steps outlined above and specialization training, physicians in the U.K. participate in a program called Continuing Professional Development (CPD). In this post, we outline what this program entails and the expectations for U.K. healthcare professionals in relation to it.


What is Continuing Professional Development?

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD for short, covers a range of experiences that professionals within the U.K. can participate in to further their understanding in a specific area. Although there are CPD programs for healthcare professionals, there are CPD programs for many other industries as well.

CPD programs are in place to encourage individuals to stay up to date on new practices, information, and expectations within their area of expertise. CPD programs can take various forms. According to the program’s website, they may be workshops, an online course, or a short event.


Why is CPD required for physicians?

CPD is required for healthcare professionals as a means of revalidation. The General Medical Council states that CPDs help to “improve the safety and quality of care provided for patients and the public.” CPD programs provide structure for those looking to explore specific facets of the industry, which can make them more competent and in tune with themselves, their patients, and modern medicine.


How much CPD is required?

General practitioners, consultants, and surgeons within the U.K. are required to complete a minimum of 50 credits of CPD annually. Every 5 years, healthcare professionals must submit their CPD credits to revalidate their licenses, 250 credits are required. One hour of development is equal to one CPD credit. Physicians are responsible for recording their CPD credits. Most individuals record their hours on their own, with some choosing to fill out one of the many CPD diaries or journals available for download online.

Like other CPD programs for other professionals, physicians can attend lectures, conferences, workshops, or online courses. Physicians may also choose to take a more personal approach to their CPD and count the hours they spend listening to, reading, or watching material related to medicine towards their 50 hours required annually. For those who earn credits on their own, additional reflections and writings on material covered are required.


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