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The purpose of the new CPD programme

The aim of the new RCOG Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme is to enable you to maintain and develop your clinical and wider professional skills to ensure that your patients receive the best and safest care from you and your teams.

To achieve this, the programme:

  • enables you to maintain up-to-date knowledge and skills
  • helps you to develop new knowledge and skills
  • enhances wider professional attitudes and behaviours
  • incorporates reflection on learning as a key part of the educational process
  • supports early specialist development after completion of postgraduate training
  • encourages continued career development and personal job satisfaction in a variety of career pathways and settings

This in turn will:

  • demonstrate to the general public and employers that recognized standards of professional development are being delivered with the aim of providing high quality patient care
  • support the processes of appraisal and revalidation


  • Your CPD should keep you up to date and competent in all the work that you do. It should affirm what you do well, address areas requiring improvement and explore new knowledge, skills and behaviours. (GMC CPD Guide)

The RCOG was one of the first medical Royal Colleges to launch a mandatory continuing medical education (CME) programme, back in 1994. The programme was broadened to embrace professional education and became known as Continuing Professional Development in 2002. In 2000, it was opened to Fellows and Members resident outside the UK, and since 2015, it is also a benefit of Associate Membership. It has been revised and updated since its inception, the most recent to the current review being in 2010 following the introduction of revalidation, based on workplace-based appraisal, by the General Medical Council.

The role of CPD in a doctor’s professional life has developed from a simple recording of medical educational activities to a much broader role. A doctor’s CPD agenda now should be based on identifying personal learning needs related to the individual’s scope of practice, with an emphasis on reflection, quality and outcome. This is particularly driven by the process of revalidation within the UK, where CPD forms a key role in effective appraisal.

The RCOG set its agenda to support lifelong professional development for specialists in women’s health, in the RCOG document Becoming Tomorrow’s Specialist, published in 2014.

  • The focus for obstetrics and gynaecology will always be on improving the quality of women’s health care. To do this effectively within a rapidly changing health system requires highly skilled, adaptable doctors. These professionals must be able to work in multidisciplinary teams and provide a range of leadership skills. They must have many professional attributes and be fully committed to lifelong learning, closer team working and working across different environments.

Although formally separated, CPD is in continuum with postgraduate training. The RCOG Curriculum defines the output of the RCOG training programme as an integrated professional identity:

  • A highly skilled Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with the appropriate knowledge and attitudes to lead and deliver high quality care; taking account of patients’ needs and advocating for women’s healthcare. This will involve a questioning approach to research and quality improvement. Working well in teams is essential for safe, effective patient care; obstetricians and gynaecologists must be good communicators, supportive of staff, happy to share their expertise and experience as well as being open to the views of others. On completing training the individual will be prepared for lifelong learning, which will allow them to be adaptable and flexible for a modern NHS (RCOG Curriculum Review).

This definition can apply equally to specialists practising Obstetrics and Gynaecology in all health settings.

The RCOG has set out a Manifesto for Change in response to the UK Francis Enquiry, which embeds five key themes at the core of RCOG values for women’s health care, and which also informs continuing professional development:

  • always put the patient first
  • zero harm and patient safety
  • creating outstanding leadership and working together as teams of professionals
  • regulation, inspection and accountability
  • metrics and outcomes

Together, these philosophies underpin the review and revision of the RCOG CPD programme for 2019.

Read the full guide to the RCOG CPD framework

The core principles which inform and drive our CPD programme are set out in this guide.