"You must keep up to date with and adhere to, the laws and codes of practice relevant to your work."
- Paragraphs 12 and 13 of the General Medical Council's (GMC) Handbook Good Medical Practice.
Continuing professional development should be an organised and continuing process but must be responsive to learning requirements based on patients' needs, self-evaluation and evaluation by others, eg partners, appraisal process. It is important to keep up-to-date in all aspects of being a doctor, partner and employer and to include skills (clinical, consultation, interpersonal, leadership ...), as well as knowledge in any development plan.
The advent of revalidation places further emphasis on the importance of keeping up-to-date. At the time of writing, the finer details of the process have yet to be ironed out but the GMC is committed to its introduction in 2012. Doctors will need to maintain a folder or portfolio of information drawn from their practice to show how they are meeting the required standards. The portfolio is likely to look very much like an appraisal folder but with emphasis on how the various sections relate to the categories in Good Medical Practice. See separate article Revalidation - Current State of Play for more details.
Primary care commissioning will, furthermore, highlight the need for GPs to maximise their skills and there is likely to be renewed interest in the development of GPs with special interests. The quality framework published by the Department of Health in 2007 is still relevant today. This specifies the requirement for accreditation and reaccreditation. The expectation is that individual practitioners be assessed on a three-yearly basis to ensure that the competencies they have demonstrated at initial accreditation are sustained and that ongoing developments in their particular field are incorporated.
Trying to keep-up-to date often feels like a daunting challenge with a relentless tide of new information to absorb. A careful evaluation of needs and priorities and using a personal development plan (PDP) are therefore essential to keep-up-to date but also to avoid information overload.
- Add notes to any clinical page and create a reflective diary
- Automatically track and log every page you have viewed
- Print and export a summary to use in your appraisal
Evaluating learning needs
- Reflection: take time to consider strengths, weaknesses and learning needs. Set aside dedicated time, eg 10-20 minutes at the end of each day, to consider issues arising that day - rather than letting them build up, become daunting and possibly end up being forgotten.
- MCQs (such as the Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) eKit) and MEQs
- Videos of consultations: not just for GP registrars; these provide an excellent method of evaluating and improving consultation skills.
- Critical event analysis within the practice
- Referral analysis: consider those referrals that may not have been required with improved knowledge/skills.
- Evaluation by others:
- Patients' needs:
- 'Patient's unmet needs' (PUNs) and 'doctor's educational needs' (DENs): keep a log of those patient needs that could have been better managed with improved knowledge/skills.
- Reviewing patient records.
Methods of keeping up-to-date
The best method to use for keeping-up-to-date will depend on the learning need as well as individual preference and available time. In general, it is most effective to use practical and interactive methods but distance learning methods, such as those using case scenarios on the BMJ Learning site, can be very useful:
- Discussions with and learning from partners and other members of the practice team. This will include informal chats over coffee as well as practice meetings.
- Journals: online journals have the advantage of searching archive rather than relying on a relevant article appearing at an appropriate time.
- Textbooks: an important learning tool but may not be as relevant or helpful as other more interactive and more practical methods.
- Local and national study days, courses, conferences.
- Internet resources: for example, journals, learning modules, information sites such as Doctors.net, Onmedica and EMIS Mentor on the Web, as well as designated websites of various colleges, eg RCGP.
- Attending hospital clinics/short-term clinical assistant posts: may be time-consuming and not necessarily meet the required learning needs. However, this may provide valuable time spent with a specialist if it involves a special interest.
Further reading & references
- Learning Guide to Professional Development, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
- BMJ Learning
- GP Curriculum and Assessment Site, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
- British Medical Journal
- Good Medical Practice: Keeping up to date, General Medical Council
- FAQs - general questions about revalidation, General Medical Council
- Revalidation: A statement of intent, General Medical Council, 2010
- Implementing care closer to home: Convenient quality care for patients - Part 3: The accreditation of GPs and Pharmacistswith Special Interests, Dept of Health, 2007
- nPEP, Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland; RCGP Scotland's Online Self Assessment Learning Tool for GPs in the UK
- National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP)
|Original Author: Dr Colin Tidy||Current Version: Dr Laurence Knott|
|Last Checked: 18/03/2011||Document ID: 1134 Version: 24||© EMIS|
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