Use your Personal Development Plan to boost your career



Use your Personal Development Plan to boost your career 1


Alex O’Neill reminds us about the importance of creating and updating a personal development plan (PDP).

When the Enhanced CPD scheme was introduced in 2018, a key introduction was the need for registrants to have a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

The purpose of a PDP is for dental professionals to sit down and think about where they want their career to go and then create a plan for the next five years. They must then give a copy of the PDP to practices where they work as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is now checking for them.

Rather than seeing your PDP as another ‘compliance task’, it can instead be used for its intended purpose.

This is to become aware of your capabilities. To understand areas where you could use further training and plan your development for the future.

There is a wide range of opportunities available to young dentists and your PDP can really help you to take stock of these. It encourages you to think about what you want from your career and how to achieve it.

So why was it introduced?

Prior to the enhanced continuing professional development (ECPD) scheme, CPD in dentistry resulted in some registrants getting as many hours as possible to tick the CPD box. It seems that the General Dental Council (GDC) wanted to put an end to this culture and instead encourage dental professionals to actively use their CPD for career progression.

Additionally, the rules now allow registrants to expand their scope of learning to include business and compliance CPD that generally wouldn’t have been allowable as ‘verifiable’ under the old rules.

The ECPD scheme appears angled to empower registrants. It promotes a focus on field of practice, maintenance of current skills and the opportunity to develop new skills.

While it is important to drive a PDP with these key factors in mind, it is also important to incorporate CPD activities that the GDC has identified as Highly Recommended and Recommended. These include:

1. Highly Recommended

  • Medical emergencies: at least 10 hours in each CPD cycle. We recommend that you do at least two hours of this type of CPD activity every year
  • Decontamination: we recommend that you do at least five hours in each CPD cycle
  • Radiography and radiation protection: if you undertake radiography, we recommend that you do at least five hours in each CPD cycle.

2. Recommended

  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Complaints handling
  • Oral cancer: early detection
  • Safeguarding children and young people
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Strategy and empowerment

In interviews, ‘What is your five-year plan?’ often crops up in order to judge whether or not a candidate is committed to their field of work.

In a similar manner, the GDC is encouraging and expecting registrants to take strategic control of their career. The GDC wants you to think about who you are and where your weaknesses are. It also wants you to think about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.

You can create a PDP individually, or in conjunction with peers. However many health professionals find it useful to work with a mentor. The GDC encourages this type of relationship where possible.

Five years may seem like a long time to plan into the future. However, having a strategy in place will help you to achieve more from your career than without one.

You may not achieve all of your goals. They may shift and change as you continually re-evaluate. Ultimately you will get a lot further than if you had not initially established who you are and where you want to go.

What you need to do

You must plan the CPD for each cycle in advance using a PDP. You should review and update this if necessary. We recommend reflecting on each CPD course immediately and reviewing the full PDP content annually. This annual review should include reflection on the previous year’s activities; Icomply application members have this automatically scheduled each year.

A PDP must include:

  • The CPD you plan to undertake for your cycle, which must include CPD that is relevant to your current or intended field(s) of practice
  • The development outcomes for each learning activity:
  1. Effective communication with patients, the dental team and others across dentistry, including when obtaining consent, dealing with complaints, and raising concerns when patients are at risk
  2. Effective management of self and effective management of others or effective work with others in the dental team, in the interest of patients; providing constructive leadership where appropriate
  3. Maintenance and development of knowledge and skill within your field of practice
  4. Maintenance of skills, behaviours and attitudes which maintain patient confidence in you and the dental profession and put patients interests first
  • The timeframes which you expect to complete your CPD over your five-year cycle.

As part of your CPD record you must keep a log of all verifiable activity. You need to record:

  • The title and description of the CPD activity you completed
  • The date(s) it was undertaken
  • The number of hours, as shown on the evidence of completion (eg certificate)
  • The GDC’s development outcome(s) achieved from each CPD activity
  • Proof that reflection has taken place after the activity.

After carrying out CPD activity, registrants must reflect on the benefits of the activity and whether it helped them to meet their goals.

A step forward

Whilst creating a PDP may feel like an extra layer of admin to complete, I truly believe that this is a positive step forward for the dental profession. It’s a great tool for young dentists to use to their advantage. Personally, every time I plan my career I achieve more in one year than I had in the previous three!

I understand that the creation of a PDP may feel daunting. This is why the team at CODE have created a variety of tools to help young dentists at the start of their career, and beyond. Icomply members have the advantage of CODE’s handy guide around keeping a CPD record. This condenses the 20-page GDC guidance into an easy-to-read five pages. We also have PDP templates complete with suggestions for dentists, dental nurses, hygienists and therapists.

Remember this

It’s also important to remember to keep all the evidence you collect for the duration of your five-year cycle. Also, for five years after the completed cycle, in case the GDC requests to see your CPD record.

The team at CODE can help you with any dental compliance or management queries you might have. This includes questions around PDPs and documentation. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, please visit, email or call  01409 254 354. You can also follow us on Twitter at and join us on Facebook at

This article first appeared in Young Dentist magazine. You can read the latest issue here.

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