Developing a Professional Development Plan (PDP)


In 2017 the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) released its proposed Professional Performance Framework (PPF). The Medical Council of New Zealand has also recently released a ‘Model for strengthened recertification requirements’.  While a Professional Development Plan (PDP) is not currently mandatory, both Regulators propose a future requirement for the development of an annual PDP.

“Setting and achieving goals in a PDP can guide learning to address identified development needs, achieve educational and career aspirations, consider changes for improving the doctor’s own health and wellbeing, and to plan for their future”. [1]

A PDP is a written plan that outlines a practitioner’s learning goals relevant to their current and intended scope of practice and how they will achieve the goals. It includes self-evaluation of the learning goals and achievements from the previous CPD cycle and the planned CPD activities to achieve learning goals in the current year. [2]

These resources are intended to help Fellows create such a plan. The suggested approaches are based on the adult learning cycle that includes assessing needs (including self-evaluation), setting realistic and measurable goals and activities, measuring the impact and outcomes of those activities and then beginning the cycle again through reflection.

This information will support you developing a plan either in MyCPD or using any format you prefer or that your employer uses (e.g. as part of annual appraisal).

Different approaches to creating a plan

The College acknowledges that Fellows will have vastly different approaches to developing and documenting their plan. Some will already know their plan and merely need to document it, while others will be looking for more background and examples. Three approaches are:

  1. A short, stepped process that results in a high level plan.
  2. Download a process that provides more background and examples and that results in a more detailed plan
  3. Using the tool in MyCPD

Additional reading:

Tasker F, How to prepare a personal development plan. BMJ  2015; Vol 351. Accessed online 30/4/2019:

Challis M, AMEE Medical Education Guide No. 19: Personal learning plans. Medical Teacher Vol 23: 3: 2000. Accessed online 30/4/2019:

Grant J, Learning needs assessment: assessing the need. BMJ Volume 324 2002 Accessed online 30/4/2019:

Filipe H P, Silva E D, Stulting A A, Golnik KC Continuing Professional Development: Best Practices.  Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol 2014 21(2) 134 – 141. Accessed online 1/05/2019:

Newby D. Personal development plans: making them work, making them count Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 2003 vol 9 5-10. Accessed online 1/05/2019:

[1] The RACP acknowledges the Australian Orthopaedic Association and the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators for sharing their Professional Development Planning resources.

[2] Medical Council of New Zealand. ‘A model for strengthened recertification requirements for vocationally-registered doctors practicing in New Zealand’. Pg 8 

[3] Draft definition provided by the Medical Board of Australia.

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