I attended a joint trainer and trainee meeting, and the focus of the afternoon was how to develop and keep an active PDP during your training and beyond.
I thought I’d share some learning from this because I know that this is not the best part of my appraisal process, and an area that I have spent very little time thinking about previously.
This session really helped change my thinking and knowledge of the process.
What is a PDP?
It’s a personal development plan. It’s a way of showing your supervisor that you are considering your learning needs and how you plan to meet these needs. This is by setting an action plan that details what you will do to address this learning need, how you will evidence that this has been completed, and a timeframe for this learning.
Why is it important I hear you ask……
……because we are learning all the time. A good PDP will focus your learning, and allow you to prioritise your time and learning needs. There is large amount to cover during GP training, and it’s going to seem daunting at times. So setting some aims and making plans might just make it a little easier.
Also, being MRCGP focussed, apparently some ARCPs have flagged up a poor PDP, or with nothing ‘active’ within it. This has held up some trainees’ progress to certification. In addition, the PDP you have at the end of GP training will form your PDP for your on-going appraisal process. Having an active PDP is mandatory for appraisals, and completed appraisals, are mandatory for revalidation.
How do I get started?
Firstly, how many entries should we have on our PDP? The golden number is three, however you may more or less! You need enough to show you’re addressing your learning needs, but not so many that you cannot keep up with the learning. Some might be more straightforward than others, and some more complex. Some may have a relatively short time frame, and some longer.
What shall I include?
This is where it gets difficult. It’s a ‘personal’ development plan. So you are the only person that can answer this. You need to look at your learning needs (lets talk about learning needs assessment/analysis another time). Perhaps they will relate to the current job you’re undertaking. They may relate to where in your training you are. For example, if you are preparing for AKT they may be related to knowledge development, or preparing for the CSA they’ll perhaps be more specific to consultation skills. They might be related to developing an interest you have, or managing your work life balance. If you can justify the reason for including it at this time, then go for it.
Creating the perfect PDP item
It needs to be ‘SMART’
S – specific
M – measurable
A – attainable
R – realistic and relevant
T – timescale
I’m going to use an example from my current appraisal, which I have now refined to reflect the above learning! I think if I use an example to talk through it, it will make more sense.
Specific – ‘To become accredited as a full trainer’. This is a specific aim, as opposed to something along the lines of ‘develop my training skills further’. The latter could include anything, and doesn’t necessarily have an end point, whereas the former has a defined end point.
Measurable – I can evidence that this has been completed via being approved as a full trainer. I can link to areas in my learning log that show the things I have done to support and facilitate my application.
Attainable – Can I get this done? Well I know there is a trainer panel in February time. I have been attending the right meetings, and undertaking the appropriate work in anticipation of this, so it is definitely possible!
Realistic and relevant – The work I need to complete to achieve this is already part of my workload, so I am not adding more work to my plate. I do need to factor in some time to complete the paperwork though. It is relevant, because we have an ST3 currently, and without being a full trainer I cannot be a named supervisor for an ST3, which I would really like in order to further my position within the practice where training is concerned.
Timescale – Well I shall aim for the end of March, as this gives me time to complete the application, attend the panel and hopefully receive confirmation that this has been achieved!
By laying out the objective like this I have focussed my learning, I know what I need to do, and I am telling whoever’s reading it what I’m going to do and how.
I have added a link to a good RCGP document on completing a PDP, with some good examples of real PDP entries, and what makes them work well or not so well. Follow this link and then click on the PDP pdf.
Why don’t you sit and write a PDP entry now and see if it’s a bit easier. Feel free to share some ideas or ask questions in the comment sections below!