Professional Development Plan (PDP)

The PDP is a vital part of your eportfolio…. and one of the first places your educational supervisor or the panel will look when assesing its quality! It is both a place for you to plan your learning according to your own learning needs throughout your scheme and a way of showing your assessors that you are progressing. You will probably be used to having a PDP from your previous jobs, and certainly you will be required to have one for the rest of your working life!

You can use your PDP either to plan your learning for whole jobs or for smaller learning needs. The advantage of the former is that it gives you a direction and focus for the job, the advantage of the latter is that it is much easier to be specific. In reality the best candidates tend to have both types of entry in their PDPs.

The best PDP entries are SMART…

S – Specific.

Be as precise as possible when you detail what you want to learn and how you plan to do it. Eg. instead of “study hard for my AKT” write “I will aim to do an hour of practice questions every lunchtime and study 3 topics per week in the evenings and weekends”

M – Measurable

Be specific about how you will know you have achieved your goal. Eg. instead of “be able to manage patients with hypertension” write “review the notes of 10 patients with hypertension who I have managed with my trainer and receive feedback from her that my management was appropriate”

A – Attainable

Be realistic in what you aim to achieve

R – Relevant

Always keep in mind that you are training to be a GP. Your learning needs should therefore reflect this even when you are in hospital jobs. It can be tempting to go off on interesting side shoots or to have a similar PDP to specialty trainess you are working alongside- but remind yourself to always ask “how will learning this help me as a GP?” If you find this hard to assess at first, spending a week of your study leave as a “focus week” in general practice will really help you. Eg. instead of planning “to learn to do a LSCS” in O&G you might plan to “be able to counsel patients about the process of elective and emergency LSCS including preparation, the operation itself and recovery”

T – Time measured

Set yourself deadlines to complete your actions by. Even if you later have to revise these, having a specific deadline helps most people to achieve things.

Try to link your PDP entries to your learning log- either by quoting the date of learning log entries or by clicking the “send to PDP” link at the top of a log entry (this will only appear once the entry as been read by your supervisor). This transfers the info in the last 2 boxes of your log entry to the PDP- you will need to edit this a little and fill in the other boxes in order to make this into a useful PDP entry. Either of these 2 methods is a great way of demonstrating “learning loops”- one mark of a commendable eportfolio. A learning loop is where you demonstrate (usually by a clinical encounter) a learning need that you have, show how you have filled that need and then demonstrate use of that knowledge (usually with another patient). Here, the key is to remember to add entries and link them up when you use theoretical knowledge which you have learned in practice.