Professional Competence Schemes

Professional Competence at a glance

A quick overview of Professional Competence and what it means for doctors

  • All registered medical practitioners must maintain professional competence.
    • For doctors practising medicine in the State and registered in the supervised, general and specialist divisions of the register, this means being  enrolled in a professional competence scheme and engaging in professional competence activities.
    • For doctors practising medicine in the State and registered in the trainee specialist division of the register, this means pursuing training in a recognised trainee post. There is no need to complete any additional activities.
    • There are a number of different options for doctors practising medicine outside the State.
  • The Medical Council has developed a number of professional competence schemes under arrangement with recognised postgraduate training bodies (PGTB) which doctors can participate in.
  • Maintenance of professional competence should be planned on assessed needs.  It should involve your engagement in diverse and relevant practise based activities which enable you to reflect and take action to maintain and enhance the quality of your practice.  Maintenance of professional competence is documented and should be demonstrable to the Medical Council. 
  • Initially, these schemes consist of two elements; Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and Clinical Audit. These elements may develop in the future.
  • CPD activity is pursued under 4 categories internal (maintenance of knowledge and skills), external (practice evaluation and development), personal learning and research/teaching categories.  See guidelines for more information.  
  • It is expected that, on average, each doctor will complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuing professional development activity per year.  In addition, each doctor is expected, on average, to complete a minimum of one clinical audit/ quality improvement project per year. 
  • At the end of every twelve month period of maintenance of professional competence, your professional competence scheme will issue you with a Statement of Participation confirming your enrolment and setting out activities you have completed and recorded with the scheme in that year and in the previous four years – i.e. the Statement will demonstrate activities you have completed and recorded with the scheme over a five year period.  This Statement of Participation should be available to you from May each year.  It is a key document that provides supporting evidence that you are maintaining your professional competence and you may be asked to provide this to the Medical Council.
  • Each year, when you apply to retain your registration with the Medical Council, you will be asked to make a declaration regarding your maintenance of professional competence.  Notices regarding application for retention of registration are usually issued in June each year. 
  • Each year, some doctors will be asked to validate their declaration regarding maintenance of professional competence by providing supporting evidence.  In general, the Statement of Participation will be a key document to be provided to the Medical Council. 
  • Doctors who cannot provide satisfactory supporting evidence will be provided with an opportunity to explain why this is the case, and will receive advice to correct the matter.  There may be further follow up to ensure that the doctor has corrected any issues arising.
  • A doctors who is considered by the Medical Council to have failed, ceased or refused to cooperate with the legal requirement to maintain professional competence will face disciplinary action by the Medical Council.   
  • Information regarding your maintenance of professional competence is confidential and the Freedom of Information Act does not apply. 

Professional competence at a glance