Professional Development

What are Professional Competence Schemes?

Professional Competence Schemes are the formal structures provided for under Part 11 of the Medical Practitioners Act (MPA) 2007 to ensure that all doctors registered and working in Ireland maintain their education, knowledge and skills (competence) at an acceptable level.

From May 2011, all doctors are legally obliged to maintain their professional competence.

It is expected that, on average, each doctor will complete 50 hours of continuing professional development activity per year spread across internal (maintenance of knowledge and skills), external (practice evaluation and development), personal learning and research/teaching categories.  In addition, each doctor is expected to complete one clinical audit per year.  Doctors will plan activities in accordance with their needs based on their own day-to-day practice.

While the term "Professional Competence Schemes" is new, many of the activities that the schemes will involve are already in existence. The new system formalises activities which the majority of doctors already engage in, ensures consistency and provides transparency which will help to build trust between patients and doctors.

Who do Professional Competence Schemes apply to?

Professional Competence Schemes, will apply to all doctors whose names are entered in the General and Specialist divisions of the Register. The pursuit of training by medical practitioners registered in the Trainee Specialist Division shall in itself represent evidence of the pursuit of an applicable professional competence scheme

What is involved in Professional Competence Schemes?

Under the MPA 2007, the Medical Council will develop a number of Professional Competence Schemes for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the ongoing maintenance of professional competence of doctors.

Schemes will be operated by postgraduate training bodies.  For more information on how to enrol in a professional competence scheme relevant to your area of practice, please contact your postgraduate training body.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Practitioners will be enrolled in CPD activities as defined by the training body for that specialty and will be required to submit evidence of their participation in educational activities. It is envisaged that doctors will be expected to participate in 50 CPD hours per annum (250 hours over a five year period).
Click here for more information in relation to CPD.

Clinical Audit
Clinical Audit can be defined as the "systematic review and evaluation of current practice with reference to research based standards to improve patient care." The setting of standards, measurement of practice compared to 'gold standard', identification of deficiencies and addressing deficiencies (closing the loop) is an accepted model of clinical audit.

What kind of activities will be accredited for CPD?

As a general rule, educational activities that are sponsored by postgraduate training bodies will automatically generate CPD points. These will include regional and national scientific meetings, conferences, workshops, personal learning and international conferences organized by equivalent bodies in other countries. The postgraduate training bodies are responsible for attributing CPD points to various professional activities. For more information on recording CPD for your specialty please contact your postgraduate training body.

For Training Body contact details, please click here.

What will happen if I fail to/ refuse to participate in Professional Competence Schemes?

Under the MPA 2007 any doctor who refuses to co-operate, fails to co-operate or ceases to co-operate with requirements under the Act to participate in Professional Competence Schemes will be the subject of a complaint to the Medical Council's Preliminary Proceedings Committee.

I only work part-time. Do I still have to complete 50 hours of CPD per annum?

Yes.  Even if you only work part-time you must provide evidence of full participation in CPD activities (50 hours per annum).

What about retired doctors who still wish to practise?

All doctors are subject to the same professional competence requirements.  This means that any retired doctor wishing to retain registration for the purpose of practising medicine will be obliged to fulfil their statutory duty to maintain professional competence. 

Retired doctors who are unwilling or unable to engage in a professional competence scheme will be advised to voluntarily withdraw from the Register.  In the event of withdrawal from the Register, they will still retain their title of Dr, can still engage in college and mentoring activities and can still administer emergency aid should they encounter an accident.

Where can I get more information about Professional Competence Schemes?

We try to keep the information on the Professional Competence section of the website up to date with the most recent information on the development of the Schemes. However, if you have any questions relating to Professional Competence Schemes that are not answered here, you can contact the Professional Competence Unit at pc@mcirl.ie