RACGP offers three-month CPD extension

4 minute read

To help members adjust to the new regime, the college says activities completed by the end of March can be backdated into the 2023 year.

The RACGP has announced a last-minute extension for doctors who haven’t met last year’s CPD obligations, allowing members to backdate any activities completed up to 31 March and record them as part of their 2023 CPD year.

It’s unclear just how many GPs will actually need the added time.

RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins announced the extension on 5 January to little fanfare; it was mentioned only briefly and at the very end of her weekly Friday Fax email.

The college said the Medical Board has “actively endorsed” the extension on the basis that all CPD providers are mandated to support members “through various means” to fulfill their requirements.

“Most RACGP members had successfully met their CPD requirements by the end of 2023, with a significant number following the RACGP’s suggestions and seamlessly integrating CPD into their daily work routines,” Dr Higgins told The Medical Republic.

While ACRRM hasn’t announced a grace period, members of the rural college can still apply for an extension to their 2023 CPD term.

CPD homes don’t actually have to submit reports on their members’ CPD compliance for a given year until the middle of the following one, leaving ample wiggle room for discretionary extensions.

It’s also not the first time that the RACGP has granted a CPD grace period – Dr Higgins told TMR that it has granted extensions at the conclusion of CPD triennia for several years now.

The main difference is that three months represents a small proportion of a three-year CPD triennium but a more substantial proportion a of one-year CPD term.

Other changes that came in with the new 2023 CPD regime were the added requirements to spend 25 hours reviewing performance and measuring outcomes, along with a written professional development plan at the beginning of each year.

Dr Higgins said that, over the course of the year, it had become evident that RACGP members were struggling to understand how to fulfil these new additions.

“While continuous improvement and evaluation are already a key part of what GPs do every day, there has been a collective learning experience in understanding the best methods for recording and substantiating these activities,” she said.

The redesign caused uproar among the profession – when the requirements were first announced in 2022, TMR editor-in-chief Dr Linda Calabresi wrote that the very thought of them “fills [her] with dread”.

“CPD has always been a program that aims to improve the quality of medicine that doctors practise,” Dr Calabresi said at the time.

“It seems it has now been manipulated to become a means of regulating and disciplining doctors to ensure we jump through yet more recordable hoops to satisfy some committee’s idea of what is good for us.”

Under the new system, doctors are also required to spend a minimum of 12.5 hours on more traditional education activities. They can spend the remaining 12.5 hours on their choice of CPD activities, for a combined total of 50 hours of CPD per year.

While 2023 marked the start of the new CPD program, 2024 is the first year that doctors are required to register with a CPD home, whether that be their specialist college or one of the new – often cheaper – alternatives.

So far, the only non-college CPD homes approved by the Australian Medical Council are DoctorPortal Learning, which is run by the AMA WA branch, Osler Technology, Skin Cancer College Australasia and Health Education and Training Institute (HETI).

Skin Cancer College and HETI limit their services to GPs with special interest in skin cancer and NSW-based junior medical officers respectively.

Of the two non-college options open to all doctors, Osler comes in cheapest at just $249 per year.

DoctorPortal, meanwhile, costs $440 for AMA members and $880 for non-members.

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