Personal development plan

There is nothing that the GMC requires your personal development plan (PDP) to include.

Your goals should be taken from your appraisal as an individual and your specific needs. The GMC requires you to make progress with your PDP each year or explain why that has not been possible. They require you to reach agreement with your appraiser on a PDP for the coming year based on your appraisal portfolio and discussion. Your PDP should be:

  • personal
  • developmental
  • a plan for the future

It should meet your needs in the context within which you work. We recommend that you develop SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) goals with your appraiser.

Performance objectives should be part of job planning and not necessarily part of your appraisal and revalidation PDP unless you wish to include them. It often helps to work out how you can demonstrate that a change you plan as one of your PDP goals has made a difference by considering what the impact on patients will be.

The only PDP goals that are inappropriate are ones that are flippant, not specific to you, or irrelevant to your needs.

Your appraiser is trained to help you work out how to write your PDP so that it is a professional record of your personal development planning for your needs. The PDP goals should be balanced across the five-year cycle and across your whole scope of work. Goals around being a good role model for patients and maintaining your personal health and wellbeing in a period of great pressures on the healthcare system are entirely appropriate. It is not appropriate to include non-specific goals in your PDP that could apply to any doctor and do not apply to your personal needs. Your goals should not normally be part of what everyone is required to do to be fit to practise. These goals should be re-framed and described in more specific terms so that you can demonstrate:

  • where they have arisen
  • why they apply to you now
  • how you will achieve them
  • how you will demonstrate that your goal has been met
  • that achieving the goal will make a difference

The GMC requires you to agree a new PDP each year that reflects your needs as defined by the portfolio of supporting information and the appraisal discussion. This is a matter for agreement between you and your appraiser.

There is no GMC requirement about the number of PDP goals you should include or if those goals are clinical or non-clinical. Some doctors like to record lots of PDP items; it is your PDP. Most doctors find three or four PDP items are sufficient to capture their priority goals. You could have one very big objective that you have broken down into separate interim or smaller goals.

While it would be normal to include some clinical goals, you do not have a requirement to do so.

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