How to Get CPD Points as a Locum Doctor in 2023
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an integrated part of any training pathway. When you leave training, you still have the responsibility to undertake CPD regularly, but you lose the benefit of a pre-designed programme of learning tailored to your specific level of experience and your training needs.
However, many locum or other non-training doctors struggle to find CPD opportunities throughout the year, and then suffer when it comes to appraisal and revalidation. Finding the right CPD and fitting it into your schedule can be a pain, so we have rounded up the best CPD resources we can to help you fit learning into your life as easily as possible.
CPD is more than just an annual GMC requirement, it is an important part of being a doctor.
👉 It can keep your knowledge and skills up to date to ensure that your patients get great care
👉 It can grow your confidence and competence as a clinician
👉 It can help improve your teaching skills so that the wisdom you pass on to your juniors makes more of an impact
👉 It can open up opportunities for career advancement or specialization
👉 It can help prevent burnout by ensuring you take time out of your clinical schedule to focus on your own career and personal development
There are many ways to get CPD, including attending conferences, workshops, webinars, seminars, lectures and participating in online modules and courses. You can also do self-directed learning such as reading medical literature, revising for an exam, or conducting research (though whether or not this is accepted as accredited CPD is up to your appraiser).
In this article, we focus on where to find online e-learning modules that may count as CPD for your annual medical appraisal. We highlight which of these are free and which are accredited and provide a certificate of CPD. There are loads of online courses you can do for CPD, and this is by no means a definitive list but, in our opinion, it offers the most manageable options for a locum doctor.
If you want to find out what your CPD requirements are for your appraisal, check out this page of the Portfolio Companion - our ultimate resource for all things appraisal and portfolio.
🎉 FREE CPD
👉 Often, the best way to get free CPD is to be registered with a Trust staff bank and then actually read the trust emails that you get sent out every week. Usually, they will have links to Grand Rounds or other trust-wide virtual CPD that may be relevant to your work. If you aren’t getting enough opportunities from those emails, try contacting the education lead for the junior doctors at that Trust and explain that you work within the Trust and are keen for CPD opportunities.
👉 GMC has free and anonymous e-learning modules that specifically center around NICE guidance, ethics, and professionalism scenarios. They aren’t CPD accredited but if you can show evidence of completion of a module (i.e. a screenshot) and can reflect on your learning, then some appraisers may accept this as evidence of CPD at your appraisal or revalidation meetings.
👉 MIMS (through the MDU) has a free 6.5 point CPD online course that covers key medico-legal and ethical aspects of clinical medicine. There are several short tests throughout to check your knowledge, and on completion of the module you get a CPD certificate. You have to register with MIMS to get access, but this is free to do.
👉 Health Education England’s eLFH catalogue is one of the best for free e-learning. The Frailty (Tier 2a is good enough for non-frailty specialist doctors) and Making Every Contact Count (MECC) modules are widely applicable to doctors across pretty much every specialty. They provide certificates of completion for each module, and include the number of hours taken to complete each one (1 hr = 1 CPD point).
👉 Doctors.net.uk is a free membership which offers short CPD courses with certificates. The topics are brief and wide-ranging (i.e. interpreting blood gasses, understanding Raynauds phenomenon, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease to name a few). Plus, signing up gets you a free @doctors.net.uk email address… if that appeals to you.
👉 Mind the Bleep run regular webinars that are free to attend. While you do get a certificate for attending (if you fill in their feedback form) they aren’t technically CPD registered. Some appraisers may still accept it as CPD though if you can reflect on the session and show evidence of learning.
👉 MedAll has a large compendium of healthcare related CPD that is easy to search.
👉 If you want to do a longer course, the science of wellbeing Yale University course on Coursera is a great one. It takes several weeks to complete and does involve regular work but it provides a great insight into research around wellbeing and happiness. It is consistently rated one of courseras best courses. The course is free unless you want a certificate at the end.
💰 PAID CPD
👉 The MDU, MPS, and BMA each have their own eLearning courses and modules for doctors registered with them. Considering the amount of money you pay for membership, make sure that you make the most of their online training too.
👉 GPnotebookPRO has a 6 month free trial for unlimited access to CPD that provides certificates. They also state that using GPnotebook while you are working means that you can claim CPD points while you work.
👉 CPDme is an online platform that provides CPD tailored to you. It’s not the most expensive programme out there but it isn’t the cheapest either.
👉 CPD match and CPD UK are online CPD hosting platforms that provide CPD to multiple careers, not just healthcare. It can be a bit harder to find relevant CPD on these platform but it is worth checking out as you dont have to pay for anything unless there is a course that you like. The downside of such a big hosting platform is that the quality of the CPD is variable.
👉 Some longer courses can be found on Future Learn; like this one on becoming an expert healthcare educator or this one on human factors in a healthcare environment.
👉 Dont forget the bubbles is an online Paeds educational platform and has a free taster course and a number of paid courses.
👉 Medscape has a wide selection of more science-y topics with titles like ‘CMV in the transplant patient’ or ‘Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva: Expert Guidance’. Their courses are CPD validated and offer certificates on completion.
👉 If you are a member of one of the royal colleges, then they usually have online CPD that you can do. Sometimes, if you dont have full membership you can wrangle some free courses from them, but most require paid full membership. Generally it is tailored to the college specialty which could be very useful if you only want to focus your learning in one particular area, but perhaps is limiting if you want to expand your knowledge into new domains or do leadership or teaching courses.
👉 BMJ offer a small selection of paid face to face courses through different trusts and universities, which cost between £50 - £500 and can take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks.
👉 BMJ also host day-long virtual CPD events (BMJ Masterclass) every few months. If you sign up for their newsletter, you may receive a notification the next time they run one of these programmes.
This article is part of a wider series of resources designed to support doctors through the process of building great portfolios. The heart of this is Messly’s Portfolio Companion, which is a detailed set of guides, templates and tools to help you build and manage your portfolio with confidence. For other articles and discussion on the topic, click here.