Nursing Matters – utilising your personal development plan (PDP)

Gemma Forsythe Personal Development Plan

This month for Nursing Matters, Gemma Forsythe offers advice on how to get the most out of your Personal Development Plan (PDP).

As July is GDC retention month, I have decided to focus this month’s Nursing Matters on essential elements of our CPD. That is the Personal Development Plan and CPD activity log.

These have not been long implemented and it is easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed at the thought of starting your PDP, especially if you are newly qualified.

GDC requirement

Your Personal Development Plan is a GDC requirement and must be completed for every CPD cycle. It includes your skills/knowledge that have been identified as needing to be developed or maintained. It demonstrates to the GDC that you are committed to ongoing learning in your professional field.

The GDC have a PDP template on their website along with examples which can be useful, and this can be downloaded directly from their site. There are also some CPD sites who offer a PDP builder that will help you along the way.

It can be useful before you start to create your PDP to make a spider diagram or mind-map. You can use this to identify your learning/training needs and how you will address this which will make creating your PDP so much easier and you will not feel as overwhelmed.

Questions you can ask yourself to identify your learning/training needs are:

  • What are you good at in your role? What could you improve on?
  • Have there been any issues brought up during your appraisals?
  • Has a patient ever had a query that you were unsure how to answer?
  • Do you feel that you have limited knowledge of a topic?
  • What skills/knowledge could you build on that would be useful for your practice?
  • Is there anything you dread doing because you do not understand it?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Utilise your PDP. Instead of viewing it as another boring compliance task, use it to its full potential! Its intended purpose is to become aware of your capabilities and build on the skills that you are not as confident in by planning your future development. Think of what you want to achieve in the next five years career wise and how you are going to get there.

I’m sure we have all experienced the popular job interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?.’ Ensure that your Personal Development Plan reflects where in your professional career you want to be.

Don’t see it as a chore, but a chance to create a series of goals to tick off throughout your five-year CPD cycle. Follow the GDC’s advice, ‘plan, do, reflect, record’, and you can’t go wrong.

Questions I receive a lot are, ‘How do I progress as a dental nurse?’, and, ‘What course do I take?’. The answer I always give is: it is entirely dependant on the individual.

You need to ask yourself what your professional interests are and also consider what would be useful in your practice/setting. There is no point in investing time, effort, and money into a post-qualification if you won’t get to use it, you don’t enjoy it, or you won’t get the support needed from your practice/clinician to complete it.

Activity log

Don’t forget that you also need to complete your CPD activity log which can also be downloaded from the GDC website.

This needs to include information such as:

  • The date you completed the course
  • The course you undertook
  • Evidence of verifiable CPD e.g., certificate
  • How many minutes/hours CPD time it was
  • What GDC learning development outcome it relates to
  • What you learnt from the course/how it benefits you within your role.

You also need to ensure you retain all your CPD certificates to correlate to your CPD log. Having these organised in a file will save a lot of time if you are called upon by the GDC to have a CPD audit.

My advice

Completing the Personal Development Plan and activity log can be a daunting experience, especially if you are newly qualified. My advice would be to go onto the GDC website and ensure you know what you need to do.

Remember that you need to complete at least 10 hours of CPD every two years and ensure you make your CPD declaration at every renewal.

You need to make a declaration every year, even if you completed zero hours that year. If this is the case, declare zero hours but ensure you complete enough hours the following year to meet the minimum requirements.


Catch up with previous Nursing Matters:

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