CPD (or continuing professional development) is the process of recording and reflecting on the skills, knowledge and experience you gain as you work. CPD includes formal and informal learning beyond any initial qualification or training you have undertaken.

CPD is a record of what you experience, learn and then apply to your role at work. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) provides the following overview of CPD, suggesting it should:

  • be continuous – professionals should always be looking for ways to improve performance
  • be the responsibility of the individual learner to own and manage
  • be driven by the learning needs and development of the individual
  • be evaluative rather than descriptive of what has taken place
  • be an essential component of professional and personal life, never an optional extra.

In public health, the overall aim of continuing professional development is to ensure that those who work in the field develop and maintain the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes to practise effectively and work towards improving the health of the population.

The CPD process should be one that is constantly evolving and changing to help you manage your own development, no matter what level or grade you work at. It is important to see CPD as part of your annual workplan: your CPD objectives should relate to your Personal Development Plan (PDP), and be reviewed as part on ongoing appraisal or 1-1 discussions with your supervisor or line manager throughout the year.

Evidence of CPD is usually presented as a portfolio of training and development you have undertaken.

Wherever you work, there should be opportunity to undertake CPD. It is not just about attending conferences or undertaking formal courses. The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) identifies a range of methods:

  1. learning as part of your job
  2. group work, seminars and journal clubs
  3. conferences, workshops and educational meetings
  4. formal courses
  5. private study and reading
  6. PH audit, appraisal and reflective practice
  7. training, teaching, examining and preparation time
  8. research
  9. organisational development activities
  10. inspection and review activities.

CPD as a registration requirement

The amount of time you spend on your CPD, and the activities you will take part in, vary depending on your role and your individual learning needs. For registered professionals, CPD provides important evidence of the mandatory training, skills and knowledge needed for an individual to continue to work safely, legally and effectively.

Evidence of on-going CPD is a requirement of professional membership or registration, and depending on the type of membership or registration, may have a set number of hours and specific criteria.

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) describes CPD as a ‘professional obligation for all public health professionals’, and provides guidance and tools for recording CPD.

The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) has useful advice on evaluating and collating evidence of CPD activities.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has specific CPD guidance for doctors.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) signposts relevant CPD opportunities and also provides tools for recording and evaluating CPD.

The UK Public Health Register has approved a policy on CPD for practitioner registrants.