What Is the CPD Cycle?

Last Updated: 17 April 2023

Welcome back to the CPD Guide! This article is the second installation of a series of articles that explain every element of CPD including the CPD period, general CPD requirements, and audits.

What is the CPD cycle?

The CPD cycle breaks down the task of completing a CPD activity into four sections: planning, learning, documenting and reflecting. In this sense, the CPD cycle is a tool that helps you measure the success and progression of your CPD.

Each section of the CPD cycle needs to be recorded in your CPD portfolio: ie. an overall learning plan for the registration period, as well as the learning, documentation and reflection regarding each individual learning activity.

Section 1: Planning

At Ausmed, we think of purposeful learning as the most effective kind of learning. With that in mind, it’s integral to the efficacy of your CPD that you plan which knowledge gaps you’re going to address this registration period, what learning you’re going to complete to address them, and what effect it will have upon your patient’s outcomes.

Planning your learning also includes setting goals. Your goals should not only cover which knowledge gaps you intend to narrow or close: you should also spread your goals further into the future, relating to your own professional growth.

To read more about planning your learning and setting goals, read ‘The Importance of Setting Goals’.

Section 2: Learning

When it comes to learning, the world (of healthcare) is your oyster! As long as you can relate a learning activity back to an identified and relevant learning need (as identified in your learning plan), and it is relevant to your context of practice, you are able to log it as CPD in your portfolio.

To learn more about what activities can count toward your CPD, read: ‘What counts as CPD?

Section 3: Documenting

Documenting your learning and the subsequent reflection is an important skill: if you are audited, this documentation is used as evidence to show you have genuinely adhered to the mandatory learning standards as set out by your Regulatory Board.

Documentation requirements differ from Board to Board: for example, some Boards may require registered healthcare practitioners to record a certain amount of time’s worth of a particular activity (eg. interactive learning).

All Boards require evidence of the completion of each learning activity – certificates or notes – to be uploaded as part of a learning activity’s documentation. To learn more about documentation and CPD requirements, read: ‘How much CPD do I need?

Section 4: Reflecting

Just like the other three sections of the CPD cycle, reflecting on your learning is non-negotiable. This is a required part of the CPD process and must be logged in your CPD portfolio.

The key to a good reflection is to first consider how a piece of learning has closed or narrowed a knowledge/competency gap, and then consider how this learning will affect your colleagues and patients. After all, CPD in healthcare is all about creating the best possible outcomes for the people you care for: so ask yourself, how will this learning affect them?

To learn more about effective reflection, read: ‘How do you reflect effectively?

What next?

Once you’ve read this article on breaking down the CPD, return to the CPD Guide to find out more about the required professional development. We recommend reading ‘What counts as CPD?’ next!

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