What you need to know about your CPD requirements
It’s hardly a secret that doctors are incredibly busy professionals. On top of all the clinical work, there are ever-increasing bureaucratic demands on practitioners, coupled with diminishing windows of opportunity to keep up with the latest advances in medical knowledge. It’s all too easy to put continuing professional development (CPD) on the backburner, leaving it for one of those mythical days when you have “more time”.
Do so at your own peril, however. There is the clinical imperative: many medical fields are moving so fast that if you don’t know about the latest developments, you won’t be able to offer your patients best practice. For example, one of the most common heart conditions, atrial fibrillation, is now being treated with a class of drugs – the so-called novel oral anticoagulants – that were pretty much unheard of not so long ago. Similarly, in just a few short years, the choice of drugs to treat type 2 diabetes has expanded considerably.
And then there’s the regulatory imperative. Many doctors are still unaware that AHPRA conducts random audits of doctors’ CPD activities. And if you haven’t fulfilled your requirements, there can be consequences. The Medical Board of Australia can impose conditions on your registration, or even outright refuse to register you. And although failure to undertake the required CPD is not a legal offence, it could be used in disciplinary proceedings against you as evidence of inappropriate practice or conduct.
Particularly vulnerable to being caught out are doctors who are not affiliated with a college – IMGs, doctors in training and non-vocationally registered doctors – don’t get the same prompts that other doctors get from their college to do their required CPD.
Doctors who do belong to a college need to meet the CPD standards set by their own college. For example, the CPD program of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has a mandatory Planning, Learning and Need (PLAN) activity which involves doctors looking at their practice, their patients and their patients’ demographics to work out the future CPD activities they should do over the next three years to support their skills and practice. GPs must then accumulate 130 CPD points, which must include one Category 1 activity and one CPR activity.
Doctors in training or who are non-vocationally-recognised must also demonstrate that they have fulfilled full CPD requirements. This involves a minimum of 50 hours of CPD per year, which can be self-directed. Any self-directed program must include one mandatory self-assessment reflection activity or peer review, clinical audit or performance appraisal. Activities to enhance medical knowledge, such as participation in courses, conferences or online learning, are also required.
Trainees need a signed letter or report from their supervising hospital to confirm their participation in training and education programs.
If you are randomly selected for audit, you will be sent an audit notice, and have 28 days to demonstrate that you’ve met the Medical Board of Australia’s registration requirements. These include not only your CPD requirements, but also declarations about indemnity insurance, recency of practice and criminal history. If you are found to be in breach in any of these areas, you can be reported to the Board.
See here for more information on CPD requirements for doctors who are not affiliated with a college.
Sign up to Doctorportal Learning to access mobile-friendly medical education, track all your CPD points and activities in one place, and get assistance in meeting your Medical Board of Australia CPD reporting obligations.