You are currently using an unsupported browser which could affect the appearance and functionality of this website. Please consider upgrading to the latest version or using alternatives such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

The 4-step learning process

  1. Planning
  2. Learning event
  3. Reflection
  4. Action

First, planning – this lets you shape your CPD according to your professional needs and personal career aims.

Second, the learning event – this is how you engage in the process. We have grouped learning events into Dimensions, which reflect your professional identity:

  • Clinical
  • Professional
  • Extended Role

And there are three types of learning event – formal (FLE), experiential (ELE) and specific (SLE).

The third step is reflection – where you think about what you have learned, and how it relates to your development and your professional life.

Finally, action is where you take what you have learnt and bring it to bear on your work.

You should try to balance dimensions and types of learning event. And though it’s not necessary to perform all four steps of the learning process for every learning event you undertake, we do recommend you work through the process several times in every 5-year period. Remember, the reflection and action steps award you extra credits.

Your starting point is the preparation of your ‘Personal Plan’. This has two components:

  • Practice and Roles (P&R)
  • Personal Learning Plan (PLP)

Ideally, this should be prepared for your annual appraisal, and will set out the agenda for your CPD for the following year, with specific learning goals.

More information about your Personal Plan

A Learning Event is any educational activity that you feel achieves one or more of the following aims:

  • maintains – or develops new – knowledge and skills
  • enhances wider professional capabilities and behaviours
  • enables career development and personal job satisfaction

In your ePortfolio, you should link learning events to items on both your P&R and PLP, and they can also be linked to the UK GMC’s Good Medical Practice Domains. By making these links, you can demonstrate full engagement with CPD across your practice and roles and in line with your learning goals.

The learning event log records:

  • title of the event
  • date completed
  • duration of the event
  • description of event e.g. organiser / location
  • credits claimed
  • evidence upload (optional)
  • link to both P&R and PLP (mandatory)
  • link to GMC Domains (optional)

You can also go on to complete a reflective and/or action log for the event.

Reflection is the key to effective CPD and drives change in performance. It encourages doctors to become lifelong learners, making you more able to appraise your practice critically and to identify, plan, and evaluate learning.

Reflection is:

  • learning from experience and verbalising the outcome
  • analysing our actions and applying concepts and theories to problems
  • applying previous experience to new situations
  • challenging our assumptions
  • processing to identify gaps or learning needs

You should reflect on what you have learnt from CPD activities and record whether the CPD has had an impact on performance and practice. This will help you assess whether your learning is adding value to the care of your patients and improving the services in which you work.

A Reflective Log is essential to gain credits for all Experiential Learning Events (ELEs) but optional for Formal Learning Events (FLEs) and specific Learning Events (SpLEs). If completed for FLEs and SpLEs, additional credits will be awarded.

More information about types of Learning Event

Action demonstrates how you have applied your learning – this could range from a comment that you have changed a single aspect of your personal practice as a result of the learning, to demonstration of a major change in the way an entire service is delivered.

Examples of actions can relate to:

  • Patient care
  • Individual development
  • Service delivery
  • Sharing with others
  • Using a new diagnostic test following appropriate learning
  • Using a new medication in practice
  • Implementing a new Guideline
  • Introducing a new surgical technique following appropriate training
  • Developing new competence in use of a particular instrument or device following appropriate training
  • Improving / developing / implementing a new service / care pathway
  • Revising / developing a new guideline based on the learning
  • Undertaking an audit which demonstrates implementation of the learning
  • Developing / implementing a quality improvement project based on the learning
  • Delivering a teaching session based on the learning
  • Sharing with colleagues in the workplace by arranging a meeting or presentation

Anything that demonstrates that you have followed up learning with an action is appropriate for completion of an action log.