Diary of a GP: Continuing Professional Debacle

5 minute read

Whoever designed this waste of our precious unpaid time should show us the evidence behind it.

Another year, another plan. 

I know I’m a bit slow off the mark. We’re already two months down in 2024. Not quite sure what happened there – but given we’re expected to be recording about an hour a week of CPD I’d better get cracking! 

So, I’m five minutes into the “plan” and once again it hits me like a tonne of bricks: what a bloody waste of time! 

I’m all for reflecting on my practice of medicine and working out where I can do better – the fact is I’ve been doing that for more than 30 years.  

But having to complete some document that aims to commit my self-perceived deficiencies to record just to ensure I’ve ticked that mandatory requirement box should I be subject to an AHPRA audit sometime in the future is just rubbish. Why is doing the requisite CPD hours not sufficient? Can’t they just – for once – give us some credit and assume that the areas of medicine we choose to study or explore further as part of our continuing professional development are areas we feel we need to know better, upskill in or are just of most interest and relevance to our clinical practice? 

I know – I could have completed my plan in the time it’s taken to write this rant, but it’s not just the time, is it? It’s the fact that, like so many aspects of this new CPD regimen, it is just pointless. Pointless bureaucracy obviously developed by people who have no idea what it is like to actually work as a GP. 

The Medical Board justifies these onerous changes to CPD on the basis that they are ensuring quality standards of Australian doctors. Ultimately making sure that we are all practising what the evidence shows is best practice.  

That would be fine, except they don’t apply those same standards to their own decisions.  

Where is the evidence that writing a plan for CPD is in any way associated with a higher standard of clinical practice? And for that matter how did they come up with the obligatory number of hours of measuring outcomes and performance reviews? And where did the magical 50 hours come from? Who decides these things? And more importantly how do they decide these things? Where’s the evidence? 

I remember writing all these concerns before the new scheme came into play. We’ve had a year of it now and the new CPD requirements seem, if anything, more frustrating and bureaucratic than anticipated. A recent survey by Australian Doctor found 82% of doctors rated the new scheme as fail. 

Of course, we can’t point the finger at any of the colleges for this one. This is a Medical Board debacle. But where is the noise? Where is the outcry? Or at the very least, where is the demand to show proof that this tick-box, form-filling, Utopia-inspired CPD list of requirements results in a higher standard of medical practice?  

No, the only correspondence I’m seeing from the RACGP and ACRRM is about easier options to get your MO or PR hours. Or that they’ll backdate your current CPD if you didn’t finish your 2023 requirement (which I have heard is a waste of time anyway, because AHPRA isn’t going to audit 2023. Just do 2024). 

I find it ironic that education activities are now often promoted on the basis of how they fulfil the different CPD criteria rather than actual value of the activity in terms of quality education. Because of this ridiculous system, we are being forced to consider this accreditation criteria when deciding where to spend our precious education time. 

Can’t our advocates at the colleges make the council see this? Not only is the current system offering no benefit on the previous system but, in so many ways it is defeating the purpose it was set up to achieve. 

But from the colleges – nothing. It appears they are just thankful that it is mandatory for GPs to have a CPD home as part of this new program. I am sure they were concerned about a mass exodus if there was no obligation to join (mind you, I predict GPs will soon start questioning their $1000+ a year college membership for a CPD home when they discover you can join somewhere like Osler for about $250 a year or ACRRM’s CPD Home Essentials for about $400 a year).   

The current CPD program might be OK for specialists working in hospitals who get paid study leave and have teams who routinely collect data for measuring outcomes, but for general practice, this system is not fit for purpose. 

I think every GP would agree continuing professional development should be mandatory. It’s a given. Just stop all the unnecessary, bureaucratic, unjustified hoop-jumping. We’ve actually got better things to do – like seeing patients. 

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