Balance and flexibility key elements of new CPD programme

20 October 2020

A revised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme framework is looking to deliver better outcomes for patients and doctors in a new way.

The programme has been updated in response to changes in requirements laid down by the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) and a growing awareness that the old approach was no longer aligned with the latest evidence from other countries.

“Canada, the US, the UK and Australia have all recently been undertaking changes in how CPD should be, with a vision to being more valuable to doctors and achieving better outcomes for patients, which called for a review of what we were doing here,” says Dr David Henry (pictured left), former chair of the College’s Education Advisory Group, which oversees CPD requirements, and member of the MCNZ Working Group reviewing the re-certification of vocationally trained doctors.

“Also, most of our medical colleagues belong to Australasian Colleges so it is important that CPD programmes in this country align with what is happening over the ditch.

“CPD should provide benefit to the individual by helping them grow and develop knowledge and skill that they can then use on a daily basis to help improve patient health. The old programme was a bit of a ‘one size fits all’ approach and the view was that it wasn’t delivering the benefits we all want to see.”

The new high-trust model is characterised by its flexibility and emphasis on the individual identifying what and how their learning should be.

“The MCNZ has purposefully empowered the specialty colleges to develop their own CPD programme models, which means that this framework has been created by GPs, for GPs.”

“Previously, doctors may have opted to go to this conference, or that presentation, get an official record of attendance and that was you done for CPD,” explains David. “But while some people may have got something out of that approach, there were many more for whom it was not particularly valuable.

“The new programme facilitates positive change within the GPs’ own practices because doctors can identify what they need to do or learn to improve their every-day performance.

“They can also decide how they gain that knowledge and conferring with colleagues will be viewed as just as valuable as attending a presentation. All the individual has to do is ensure those learning opportunities are logged and recorded.”

An annual conversation with a trusted colleague is the key requirement of the new approach. It is the intention that this will give doctors the opportunity to receive constructive feedback and encouragement as well as support by recognising the importance of self-care. 

Other elements mandated by the MCNZ are three specific categories of CPD:

  • review and reflection on practice - for example peer review
  • measuring and improving outcomes - a chance to analyse personal or practice data which, if needed, can be provided by the Colleg
  • identify what can be done to  achieve better outcomes for patients - which may include a traditional audit but is much more expansive and flexible. 

Underpinning all CPD categories is a requirement for a focus on equity and cultural safety.

“Talking about issues pertinent to your own situation is always going to be more relevant than ingesting general information about patient management,” says David. “The intention is to encourage a collegial approach and ensure that doctors have the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. As a body we have a huge amount of knowledge and this is one way of making sure we share it.

“The MCNZ has purposefully empowered the specialty colleges to develop their own CPD programme models, which means that this framework has been created by GPs, for GPs.”

It is expected that the new approach will be fully embedded by mid-2022, giving people the chance to get to grips with new programme and identify what they need to do to fulfill its requirements.

The College is developing in-depth resources to help GPs adjust to the changes and create their own CPD pathways – as well as an IT platform that will make it easier to log any CPD experience.

“The resources are excellent and very helpful,” says David, “And the functionality for the recording requirements will be user-friendly.

“I am sure that GPs will very quickly see the benefits of the new programme for themselves as individuals, for their practices and patients and for the profession as a whole.”