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Maintenance of Professional Competence: A Reflection

Since 1st May 2011, all doctors registered with the Medical Council are legally obliged to maintain their professional competence.

With the exception of doctors enrolled in the Trainee Specialist Division, overseas doctors practicing for less than 30 days in Ireland and doctors residing overseas, every doctor registered with the Medical Council in Ireland must enrol on a Professional Competence Scheme (Scheme).

The Schemes are operated by the postgraduate medical training bodies (e.g. RCSI, RCPI, ICGP). If you are not already enrolled in a Scheme, and not part of the exception categories listed above, please enrol on a Scheme which best reflects your scope of practice. A full list of Schemes can be found here.

If you are retired, or on leave from practice but remain on the Medical Council register, you are obliged to maintain your professional competence and enrol in a Scheme. If you are practicing or reside overseas you must engage in the CPD programme operating in that country.

Once enrolled in a Scheme, you are required to take part in activities which are relevant to your scope of practice.

The PCS year begins on the 1st May and ends on to 30th April and doctors are required to obtain 50 CPD credits per year. CPD comprises of relevant external (maintenance of knowledge and skills), internal (practice evaluation and development), personal learning and research/teaching activities offered by the Scheme or other relevant organisations.

Doctors are also required to undertake one practice improvement / clinical audit activity per year to determine gaps in clinical practice and quality improvement needs. The audits should focus on clinical and practice issues. See diagram A.

It is important that you record your activities on your CPD record provided by the Scheme. Each year your Scheme will produce a Statement of Participation which reflects what activity you have recorded. This Statement may be requested by the Medical Council or your employer as evidence of meeting the mandatory maintenance of professional competence requirements.

MPC

What’s been achieved over the last five years?

The Medical Council has a responsibility to ensure that doctors are maintaining their professional competence. It undertakes this by monitoring the Schemes and conducting audits using data obtained on Scheme enrolment and Medical Council registration.

Over time doctors’ engagement in the Schemes has improved. Knowledge of and compliance with the maintenance of professional competence requirements has increased. 95 percent of doctors are enrolled in a Scheme.

Room for Improvement

For doctors not yet enrolled, you must do so without delay. Contact the training body relevant to your scope of practice from the list provided above and get enrolled. If you don’t align with any Scheme contact the Royal College of Physicians Ireland.

Lifelong learning is important. You typically engage in many activities as part of your normal work day that could be recorded as part of your maintenance of professional competence requirements. Contact your Scheme or speak to your employer to attain clarity and ensure these opportunities are not missed.

Aside from engaging in CPD relevant to your scope of practice, we would encourage doctors to acquire, maintain and enhance their knowledge in general areas like communication, consent, end of life, open disclosure, prescribing and probity. These topics form the basis of many of the complaints received by the Council.

Resources available to support you

Please familiarise yourself with the Professional Conduct and Ethical Guide. It provides guidance to doctors on a wide range of scenarios which are likely to arise over the course of your professional career. Here is a paper providing advice on using chaperones which you may find useful.

If you are a Non Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) working under contract with the HSE, you may be able to avail of the CPD Support Scheme. This programme has been developed for NCHDs who are not engaged in specialist training, and provides a range of professional educational activities.

If you are experiencing personal health and wellbeing issues, there are resources available to help you including the Medical Council Health Committee and Practitioners Health Matters Programme. In such cases, we would advise that you contact your Medical Insurers.

Remember your Employer must facilitate your maintenance of professional practice and the Scheme you have enrolled on should offer relevant and accessible CPD education and training opportunities.

A survey will be attached to the retention of registration process this year focusing on Maintenance of Professional Competence which will provide you with an opportunity to have your say on progress to date and a way forward.