Professional Development Planning

Needs Assessment (including self-evaluation)

What is a needs assessment?

An important stage in creating your PDP is reflection on your current practice and past CPD as part of a more general needs assessment. This will support you by ensuring your CPD is relevant to your scope/s of practice, will improve your clinical and professional performance and will support your career aspirations

Some potential prompts for a needs assessment (think about both your clinical and professional learning needs) include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-evaluation of your skills, knowledge, (relevant to current scope/s of practice) interests and goals. This will include:
    • Self-evaluation of your own experiences through direct patient care (e.g. patient complaints, feedback)
    • Self-evaluation of your interactions within your clinical team/department (e.g. department meetings, clinical meetings)

    A reflective question that can be asked in both of these areas is ‘what didn’t I feel comfortable with last year?’.

  • Reflection on how well the CPD you completed in the previous year met your goals (e.g. what did you learn? What skills and knowledge need application based on the reading you have done or the conferences you attended? what did your peer review or audit activities suggest?)
  • Reflection on your CPD requirements (e.g. in New Zealand the focus on including cultural competence as a theme throughout your CPD activities)
  • Feedback from peers and other colleagues (e.g. multisciplinary meetings, multisource feedback)
  • Quality management and risk assessment (e.g. audits, patient feedback studies, morbidity and mortality reviews, other available data on my practice)
  • External structured evaluation of your skills and knowledge (e.g. MKSAP)
  • Other learning experiences (e.g. journal articles/readings, scientific conferences)

Further areas to consider in establishing need are reflections on ‘who are my patients and what specific needs do they have?’ and ‘what are the health needs of this area in relation to my scope of practice’.

What learning needs?

Your PDP will be largely based on your clinical and professional developmental needs relevant to your scope/s of practice. Your assessment could also include an evaluation of your professional values, personal interests, along with reflecting on organisational aspects of teamwork and collaboration, education, professionalism, leadership and organisational skills.  

Possible approaches/questions:

  • What are my current strengths and weaknesses?
  • What incidents or events have occurred that indicated a learning need?
  • What is currently expected of me in my professional roles and responsibilities?
  • How can I continue to develop my cultural competence?
  • What skills and knowledge do I need to develop?
  • What do I want to be doing in 2 years/5 years’ time?
  • Are there external obstacles that could affect the plans I make?

Areas of work

If you are using MyCPD for your plan the ‘Areas of Work’ tab is an additional tool that will help in your needs analysis. This is to ensure you have goals and activities that meet the key areas of work that you have identified in MyCPD. If you haven’t already identified your key areas of work you can do that now.

Creating your Plan

SMART goals [1]

While we recommend you consider using SMART goals there is no prescription for how you write your PDP. While you will find suggestions and templates in this document there is no requirement to use them or the approach outlined here.

SMART goals allow for more specific feedback and it is also easier to measure whether you are achieving them. As a starting point to creating goals, it can be useful to create a ‘big picture’ e.g. ‘I want to expand my scope of practice to include ’x’ The SMART goal may be “To have x included in my scope of practice during the next credentialing exercise in October 2019’.

SMART goals are:

 Specific / stretching  specificity leads to greater goal success and difficult goals lead to higher attainment
 Measurable  you need to be able to evaluate progress 
 Achievable  encourages greater effort
 Realistic   it may help to indicate what resources are required
 Time-framed  there needs to be a workable timeframe for attaining the goal and getting feedback on progress

Examples of SMART Goals

The following examples are meant only as indicators to guide you in writing your own goals. There is no prescribed format – use the level of detail that works for you. (Please note this is not an example of goals for one physician but rather to show a variety of examples of goals):

  • Identify potential changes in practice and communication based on feedback from patients and colleagues gathered using multisource feedback. Complete MSF and agree changes based on a debrief of the feedback with supervisor by October. Review in following June.
  • Improve my teaching through analysis of feedback from medical students on my teaching and course coordination via SELTs. Make changes as required and review again in following April.
  • Maintain procedural Interventional Pulmonology scope of practice through maintenance of expert status in stent and valve implantation, bronchial themoplasty, air way laser therapy, and balloon dilation of airways and management of pleural disease with complication factors below national average.
  • Continue commitment to improve my knowledge base as a general paediatrician through using the subspecialty problems as a prompt to my learning.
  • Adjust practice as necessary to ensure by June 1 20__ that my treatment of complex idiopathic oncology cases is in line with recent guidelines published by Cancer Australia as indicated by an audit of my prescribing pattern and peer review of my discharge letters.
  • Adjust practice as necessary to ensure that by June 1 my treatment of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is in line with recent guidelines by helping to establish and maintain an ILD multidisciplinary meeting.
  • Maintain a focus on my cultural competence by improving my knowledge of the interaction between culture and health and by seeking assistance to review my communication in clinics in the light of that training by December 20__.
  • Improve my skill in navigational bronchoscopy for small peripheral lug nodules so that I have a higher percentage of lesions reached AND higher percentage of adequate tissue obtained. Attendance at second workshop in New Zealand (June) and a training course in a new, image guided technique (ARCHIMEDES) in Melbourne (June). Audit results of use of these skills with a senior registrar and present to the head of the procedural unit in December.
  • Review guidelines for preventing progression of chronic kidney disease with key stakeholders, develop a local plan to raise awareness of the guideline in the Health Service and measure the impact on CKD diagnosis in primary care by June 20__.


Your PDP can be used to describe short and long-term goals. Goals may stretch over more than one CPD year. Where this is the case it may be useful to identify the activities in the coming CPD year that you will complete towards meeting your goals and ensure these activities have a timeframe.


In some, but not all cases, there will be a number of activities that contribute towards you meeting your goals. Activities (and sometimes goals) are equivalent to what you will record in MyCPD to attract CPD credits.

As you will notice in the examples below, time frames can be appropriate for activities as well as goals, or in some cases timeframes will be appropriate in activities instead of in goals. Please note this is not an example plan for one physician it is to show a variety of examples of goals and activities.

Goals  Actions
 Establish by end 20__ a framework of ongoing review of practice against standards and guidelines and adjust as necessary.  Establish peer review group that meets on bi-monthly basis to discuss cases. First meeting to be held in July.
 Complete, by end December, an audit of the peer review groups on the outcome of IPF patients and the prescribing of any of the two disease modifying agents
 Maintain ongoing review of current literature and present updates to the peer group 6 monthly
 Identify potential changes in practice and communication based on feedback from patients and colleagues. Implement and review in 20__.  Complete MSF and agree changes based on a debrief of the feedback with supervisor by October. Document proposed changes. Review in following June
 Invite Dr ……. to attend consecutive Radial EBUS TBNA cases by June and provide me with feedback on agreed set of behaviours. Reciprocate.
 Review Health Area guidelines for managing severe Asthma, recommend changes to the National Asthma Council, and monitor implementation of reviewed guidelines in local health service. Report on impact by next June 20__.

 Establish stakeholders working group and agree terms of reference by end Aug 20__.
 Literature review complete by October 20__.
 Draft revised guidelines by end December 20__ and recommend to National Council.
Draft communication strategy by end June 20__ and implement by August
 Identify potential changes in practice and communication based on feedback from patients and colleagues. Implement and review in 20__.  Complete online RACP program on cultural competence by end May.
 Complete a self-audit of my patient correspondence to identify and eliminate cultural bias. Seek assistance from community-based Maori health staff. complete by end October 20__.
 Identify potential changes in my practice to ensure it is in line with national prescribing standards in terms of minimising falls risk in inpatient settings through auditing of my prescribing pattern and peer review of patient medication list.  Review of current literature and guidelines by April 20__.
 Complete self-audit by end of June of prescribing patterns of patients with falls in the months of March and April.
 Falls review with focus on prescribing risk factors in the peer review and mortality and morbidities meetings in August. 
 Seek peer review feedback on range of 10 consecutive discharge letters and medication lists by end June.

Reflecting on the outcomes

Reflecting on the impact of your CPD activities completes the learning loop. This is often the most valuable part of the learning process and can also open-up the identification of further learning needs. Reflecting can be done individually or with a manager/peer who can assist in ensuring your reflection is objective and evidence based. You can note your reflections on your plan or in record a summary in any other way that suits your learning style.

Options for recording your plan

Find a format/template that suits you

There is no prescription for how you write your PDP. You can:

There is a tool in MyCPD that will allow you to create one or more plans (the way the tool is structured it is easiest to create one plan per goal). The tool allows you to add activities that you have previously created in MyCPD to your plan. If you create new activities to add to your plan they become part of your MyCPD record. See the website for instructions on creating a plan using the tool in MyCPD.

[1] With acknowledgement to the Supervisor Professional Development Program – Core Coaching Skills, Post workshop reading booklet.

Close overlay