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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Core principles of learning


Basic principles

The groundwork for the present College policy for continuing professional development (CPD) was laid out in 1994. Then, as now, it was evident that learning in medicine does not stop at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; rather it is imperative that in order to maintain our skills and knowledge beyond these formative years and so that we can treat our patients in the best possible manner, with current, modern methods of therapy, we remain upto date with the literature. The policy has been updated twice; in 2001, and more recently in 2009 (Good Psychiatric Practice. Continuing Professional Development, 2010).


The basic principles of CPD are that educational and training objectives are set in advance, that all such initiatives are measured for time spent (at least 50 hours per annum is the College’s recommendation), that they are properly resourced either by employing institutions or the individual, and that wherever possible there is a balance of Clinical, Academic and Professional educational and training opportunities. These principles have been agreed across all Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties, with the emphasis very much on self-directed learning. However, central to our College system is peer group participation, and we no longer certify educational events from the centre.


There is a direct link between CPD and Personal Development Plans (PDPs):


  • PDPs are personal and professional constructs which enable us to become good psychiatrists.
  • CPD is the educational and training path that helps us to achieve these constructs.



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