How to succeed with CPD in 2013

By Janet Flint   January 2013

JanetHow much do you know about CPD? Try this quick quiz to find out…..

1.  What is my CPD record for?

a) I don’t know – I don’t have one

b) Something I need to prove to the General Pharmaceutical Council that I’ve complied with their CPD requirements

c) A tool to help me develop as a professional

2.  How many CPD entries did you record in 2012?

a) None

b) Between one and nine

c) Nine or more

3.  How many CPD entries in a calendar year need to start at reflection?

a) None

b) All of them

c) At least three

4.  How often will the GPhC call in your CPD records for review?

a) Never, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society does this

b) A random sample will be called in every five years

c) About every five years

5.  How many of the CPD entries that I make in 2013 will have to relate to formal courses (either distance learning or face-to-face / workshops)?

a) None.  I never have time to undertake any formal learning anyway

b) All of them

c) None, but it is good practice to undertake a range of different CPD activities

6.  How many of the CPD entries you recorded in 2012 or intend to record as CPD undertaken for that year relate to learning that has actually made a difference to your practice?

a) I don’t know

b) Some of them – I’m more worried about doing as much as I need to meet the GPhC’s CPD requirements in case my CPD record is called in for review.

c) Most of them.  Showing how the learning has benefited my practice is an important part of the CPD cycle.

How did you do?

Mostly a’s

Mmmm.  Don’t forget that CPD stands for continuing professional development and not could possibly defer.  If you are a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician registered with the GPhC you need to get started with CPD and you need to start soon!  Make it a new year’s resolution to get your CPD record up to date and read on for some quick tips on how to get started.

Mostly b’s

Well done – but room for improvement.  The GPhC may call in your CPD record at any time so the sooner you take steps to get your CPD record up to scratch the better.  Whether you’re lacking a couple of entries or a couple of years’ worth, my top tips may help you to improve your recording in 2013.

Mostly c’s

You’re clearly a CPD superstar and know what you need to do to tick those boxes.  Hopefully this article will give you some tips for focusing your CPD activities in the coming year and help to improve the quality of your learning as well as your CPD recording.

Top tip 1: Keep a log of things that you learn and the date that the learning took place.  You will find this log becomes a useful prompt for writing up CPD entries.

Keep a note of anything you learn, whether it be from formal CPD activities or events in your day to day practice.  Reflect on your notes from time to time and think about the impact that any of this has had on your practice.  If, as a result of anything you have learnt, you are doing something differently, you have a perfect piece of learning to turn into a CPD entry.

If, like many people, CPD recording is not at the top of your “to do” list, or you are someone who prefers to write up their CPD in blocks, you can keep your learning log in the GPhC’s recording system.  For each piece of learning, start an entry at “Action” and write down brief notes of what you did and the date, or approximate date that you did it.  Give these entries titles that will make them easily identifiable and when you return to them later you can tidy them up and add more detail about what you learnt and how this learning has affected your practice.  If you decide later not to use these part-completed CPD entries you can either delete them, or keep them in the system as part of your learning log but not include them in the entries you submit to the GPhC for review.

Top tip 2:  Use your CPD record to capture evidence about how you are developing as a professional

The current CPD framework, using the cycle of Reflection, Planning, Action and Evaluation was developed more than 10 years ago by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as a tool to help pharmacists plan and record their own professional development.  Since the CPD cycle is based on adult learning theory, it can be applied to most types of learning and to most jobs and professions.  It therefore made sense, from 2005 onwards, to make the same system available to registered pharmacy technicians.

Although the General Pharmaceutical Council now uses the recording system developed by the RPSGB as a means of checking whether pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have met the standards it has set for CPD, it is still a tool that you can use to help you with your own personal development.  If kept up to date, your CPD record will provide you with a picture of how you are remaining a competent, safe and effective practitioner and how you are preparing yourself for new service developments.  And don’t forget that the online system has a viewer function, through which you can allow others such as employers, potential employers and commissioners access to selected entries in your CPD record.  Those of you living in England will know something about the forthcoming changes to NHS commissioning arrangements that will take effect from April 1.  Using the CPD viewer function is one way that you will be able to demonstrate that you have undertaken the necessary learning to be able to provide or continue to provide particular services.  And if you’re not aware of the potential impact of these changes, then perhaps now is the time to plan your next piece of CPD…….

ScreenHunter_08 Jan. 08 15.50

Top tip 3:  Recording CPD smartly

Remember that, where possible, it is good practice to keep documentary evidence about the learning you have undertaken to support the entries in your record about how you are developing your knowledge, skills, and abilities.  You won’t be able to do this for all entries in your CPD record, but as part of the review of your CPD record the GPhC may ask you to provide supplementary information in order to verify that at least some of the information submitted for review relates to learning you have undertaken and to your scope of practice.

Remember that:

  • To meet the GPhC’s requirements for a calendar year you only need to make 9 CPD entries in your CPD record.  In practice, most of us learn something new each day we are working, so what you write up is likely to be a fraction of your total learning.  Don’t spend more time than you need to recording CPD.  In terms of your own personal development, reflecting on your learning and development needs and the learning itself is more important than CPD recording.   That said, by March 2013, the CPD standards will have been in place for four years, which means that the GPhC may be expecting to see as many as 36 entries in your CPD record when you are asked to submit it for review.
  • Only 3 of your 9 CPD entries for each calendar year need to start at reflection, which means that the rest can start at action.  Entries starting at action are the quickest to write and easiest to complete, provided you have chosen examples of learning that has made or is likely to make a difference to your day to day practice.
  • Recording learning that has made a positive difference to your practice is the best way of demonstrating that you are developing as a professional.

Top tip 4: Focus on recording the learning that will make the most difference to your practice

Used properly, your CPD record should be a record of your professional development and experience that is specific to you, your work practices and roles.  As well as an historic record of your learning, you can use it as a current and future learning tool.

Remember that you may often undertake CPD with little effort and sometimes without even realising it.  Think about your Christmas break and what you did while you were having some well-earned downtime.  There’s a good chance that an activity out of work may have sparked some learning or helped you to identify a learning need that is relevant to your practice and therefore write up as CPD.  Could it have been that article in the press about the prevalence of the winter vomiting bug norovirus over the Christmas period, or the news that the cost of collecting and destroying unused medicines returned to pharmacies in 10 out of the 14 Scottish health board areas in 2011/12 was more than £500,000?  It is perhaps surprising that these costs, published following a request under the Freedom of Information Act did not take into account the value of the medicines being wasted, or the cost of prescribing them in the first place.  Medicines optimisation is becoming an increasingly significant issue across the four corners of the UK and should perhaps feature in most pharmacists’ and pharmacy technicians’ CPD records in one way or another over the coming months.

Why not make a learning agreement or contract with yourself by jotting down some thoughts on things you need to learn during 2013 and the options that might be available for you to do that?  Make a note in your diary to review your contract in 3 or 4 months’ time so that you can review how much progress you have made.  Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget that the GPhC is likely to start calling in CPD records again any time now, so if your CPD record needs some attention, perhaps now is the time to spend an hour or two doing something about it.

Although not directly relevant to pharmacy or indeed to healthcare, my own experience of buying a new laptop over the Christmas break and spending [considerable] time getting to grips with the vagaries of Windows 8 is something that will impact on my practice in 2013 so I will certainly be writing something up about this in a CPD entry as soon as this article is finished.

I hope you have found this article useful and that 2013 is happy and professionally rewarding for you.  For further information about recording CPD, the GPhC’s CPD standards and framework and how to use the online recording system, including the CPD viewer tab, please refer to the CPD section of the GPhC’s website  For more information about what good CPD entries should look like, please look out for the CPD case studies published from time to time on Buttercups Training website.


4 thoughts on “How to succeed with CPD in 2013

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for getting in touch. We’re glad that you have found this CPD update useful.

    In regard to your question about the number of events necessary in the year, here is an explanation from one of the Buttercups marking team:

    The article posted by Janet Flint in January 2013 does cover many aspects of CPD, but details specifically with the type and quantity of CPD records that are needed by registrants with the General Pharmaceutical Council. These details may differ for other professional bodies. To ensure that you comply with your professional body, you should clarify the specific requirements of your CPD with them. If you are completing CPD to meet the requirements of the General Medical Council, their guidance documents can be found at:

    I hope this is helpful, but please let me know if you have any further questions,


  2. Pingback: CPD updates – March 2013 | MedsLearning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s