Professional education: major CPD changes for specialists next year

By Geir O'Rourke

30 Sep 2022

Specialists have 15 months to find a ‘home’ for their continuing professional development and are likely to get at least one alternative to the RACP, the limbic can reveal.

However, options are unlikely to include any of the specialty societies, at least in the short term.

Starting in January, the Medical Board of Australia will recognise ‘CPD homes’: accredited bodies for coordinating continuing education and CPD record keeping.

Intended to improve the quality of CPD nationally, the move is part of a major overhaul to the board’s registration standard, with all doctors also required to complete an annual professional development plan from next year.

Other changes include a mandatory requirement that all doctors in Australia complete at least 50 hours CPD each year comprising at least:

  • 25 hours ‘reviewing performance and measuring outcomes’
  • 12.5 hours traditional learning or education activities such as reading or attending lectures and conferences
  • 12.5 hours ‘free choice’ activities, to be allocated by the doctor or their college

Approved by health ministers last August, the board says the new standard is based on a systematic reviews of the evidence on continuing education and international best practice in medical regulation.

The first CPD homes will be the RACP and the other accredited colleges like the RACGP and ANZCA. The Australian Medical Council is yet to formally approve any others, although it says it has received a number of expressions of interest from non-colleges.

As a result, questions have been raised about what it means for specialists given the RACP has indicated non-members will be charged the full $1998 annual subscription fee to use its CPD platform from next year.

Grace period

The limbic asked the RACP how many specialists could potentially be impacted and whether any discounts would be available for current non-members, but the college declined to comment.

Specialist societies across nine specialty areas were also contacted, with all indicating they currently had no plans of becoming a CPD home.

Nevertheless, the AMA said its WA branch had submitted an application to become a nationally accredited CPD home supporting registered specialists as well as IMGs, PGY2+ trainees and non-VR registered doctors.

It added: “Our intent is for all non-exempt medical practitioners, regardless of AMA membership, to be eligible to subscribe, with AMA members enjoying the benefit of discounted rates.”

And in an update this month, the board stressed that while the new standard would officially come into effect on 1 January 2023, doctors who were not current college members would be offered a 12 month grace period.

This meant non-college members would not be required to join a CPD home until January 2024, it said.

They will also be allowed to continue self-directed CPD, based on the old requirements, until the end of the year.

What the RACP is doing

As for current college members, the RACP said any doctor using its MyCPD platform will be able to meet the new standard from next year.

The college said its platform would include a tool for developing a professional development plan that would meet the board’s requirements.

However, all members would also need to complete a structured annual conversation with a colleague, employer or peer about their professional development needs, according to the college.

Another key change on the previous RACP framework will be that CPD will exclusively be measured by time, with no more points or credits.

In line with the Medical Board’s rules, members would also need to complete at least 25 hours in ‘reviewing performance’ and ‘measuring outcomes’ – including a minimum of five hours in each of the two categories.

While elements of some activities would sit in both, the former would include measures that examined a doctor’s actual work process, with feedback, said RACP CPD committee chair Professor Martin Veysey.

“These might include direct observation by peers in the workplace, peer review of medical records, discussions of patient cases or critical incidents or safety and quality events,” said Professor Veysey, a gastroenterologist in Darwin.

On the other hand, ‘measuring outcomes’ would include analysing and reflecting on patient outcome data such as immunisation rates or chronic disease measures, he said.

The final change was that the college was strongly encouraging members to focus their learning on cultural safety and issues of health equity across all categories.

“At this time there is not a mandatory requirement or set number of hours for activities focussing on cultural safety and issues of health equity. However we strongly a focus on activities that allow you to reflect on your own culture, attitudes and biases,” Professor Veysey said.

“The college wants to work proactively with you to ensure you understand and can meet the new requirements.”

“The framework provides a list of activities for guidance, however this isn’t an exhaustive list and we encourage you to explore and undertake a range of activities that are relevant to your scope of practice and learning needs.”

“The college wants you to get it right.”

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