On Continuous Professional Development (Part 3)


Completing continuous professional development (CPD) as a freelance or locum doctor can be a challenge. Working independently means you may not benefit from attending regular practice meetings where clinical case discussions, significant event analysis (SEA) and general medical discourse takes place. You may also find it harder completing other aspects of appraisal/ revalidation toolkits like 360-degree evaluation and patient feedback by not being in a regular environment. That does not mean that this is impossible and taking simple steps can actually mean it is a fairly easy task to achieve. 

Recording CPD

In reality, most locums will do above and beyond the requirements of appraisal and revalidation learning. The difficulty is in recording these events. 

Recording hints

Keeping a record is paramount, so a notepad or diary with a list of events attended should always be kept. Remember never to write patient identifiable data. Tips like using an online notepad as described above can be useful, as they allow portable note taking abilities accessible from an internet enabled device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop. 

When working with groups, there are a variety of methods that can be used for circulating information, not only advertising events, but also recording of minutes, and joint working on audits and feedback. This can be achieved in a variety of ways such as paper, emails with attachments, wikis or social networking.

Recording the reading that you do can be one of the most challenging aspects of CPD. Keeping cut-outs or photocopies of selected articles can be one method. However if you are wanting to record online reading, using sites like Google reader, PULSE news, Flipboard, Instapaper or Read it Later can create visually attractive, tailored online magazines which can also be used to show which articles you have read. 

However for presenting CPD a portfolio is normally needed. Physical portfolios are a simple method.

Keeping paper records of learning events, reflections and certificates can be easily presented. I would recommend if using this method to go to your local PCT website and look for downloadable templates which can be used to record CPD events, SEA and other parts of appraisal etc. This can provide much needed structure and importantly the Form 3 and 4 which are the required parts of appraisal.

Alternately you can use the computer based files to keep a database of your CPD; in essence creating your own eportfolio. The benefit of this over pen and paper is that you can create a back up with a single click.


There is a trend to using e-portfolios for appraisal and revalidation. This is likely to be the requirement in the future as it allows easy sharing with appraisers, and the concept of cloud computing to make personal access easier (and reduce paper printing)

When looking at which e-portfolio to use, I would highly recommend first asking your local appraisers which one they would recommend. Some areas will provide some, while others will specify which to use and more importantly which NOT to use. Below are listed some of the more common eportfolios in England:

All have their benefits and issues in use. For a more thorough explanation, please refer to the blog series the eportfolio comparison 

Regardless of how you perform your CPD, a key aspect is organisation. A few minutes spent a week will save you hours of time and stress when your appraisal or revalidation comes around. As a locum I would also encourage working within a CPD group.  I hope this post has given you an insight into the methods of performing and recording CPD as a locum. 

Hussain Gandhi. Academic Teaching Fellow and Locum GP in Yorkshire area

Twitter: @drgandalf52

Blog: http://egplearning.co.uk/blog

Website: www.egplearning.co.uk an e-learning portal



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