The Secret Reason that Personal Development Plans are Great for F3 Locum Doctors
If you are an F3 doctor, perhaps doing a clinical fellowship or working as a locum doctor, you may already be familiar with Personal Development Plans (PDPs) from your days as a Foundation Trainee. You will have had to set PDP goals at the start of each placement that:
👉 Identified the unique opportunities ahead of you for each placement.
👉 Highlighted areas where you were not meeting the targets for your end-of-year ARCP
👉 Reported on areas where you’d benefit from improvement or additional learning.
👉 Set goals for what you would like to achieve over the coming weeks or months.
The truth is, as an F3 doctor, you may not have an educational or clinical advisor to hold you accountable, and your appraisal will not be until the end of your F3 year (if you have one at all). This means that there is potentially a period of a year where you won’t have a PDP.
Some doctors may be relieved and excited at the prospect of having less admin to do, but we are going to try and explain why we think you should set yourself a PDP anyway, even though no one will make you.
If you want to learn more about PDPs and how they fit into your portfolio, then you can skip straight to our ultimate guide to everything portfolio, the Portfolio Companion, by clicking here.
🤫 The Secret
There is no real consequence if you don’t meet your PDP targets at the end of the year
A PDP goal is a target to aim for, but if you don’t achieve your PDP goals, it doesn’t really matter so long as you do meet all of your revalidation criteria by your revalidation deadline. The revalidation cycle is 5 years from full registration with the GMC so you have plenty of time and a couple of missed PDP targets won’t stop you from revalidating.
You’re in control of setting your targets
PDP goals are a personal set of intentions and goals you set yourself, which are a reflection of you and your own strengths, weaknesses, interests and opportunities. They are not generic for all doctors of the same grade, as all of our personal and professional circumstances are different.
By setting your own PDP as an F3, you have taken control of your career to ensure you’re moving in the direction you want to go, and have set targets that are achievable and realistic. You can set the bar low, if that feels more achievable to you.
It’s true that PDPs do generally include similar ‘themes’ outlined in the GMC Good Medical Practice guidelines, (see below) but the way that you choose to interpret them in your PDP is up to you.
👉 Getting feedback from colleagues
👉 Getting feedback from patients
👉 Participating in CPD
👉 Participating in Quality improvement activity
For example, one of your PDP targets for your F3 year could be;
‘I want to think about how I might collect patient feedback and come up with a proposal for my appraiser by the end of the year on how I plan to achieve this.’
This means your goal for the year is simply to think about something, and discuss your ideas at your appraisal. It might be work you are doing anyway - googling how to collect patient feedback, or taking notes on which standardised questionnaire to use. This target might take you 10 minutes to complete, but is a perfectly valid PDP goal for the year.
They are easy to create
The NHS loves a SMART goal and though they can seem daunting, once you get the hang of how to write them, you will be doing it in your sleep. SMART goals are intended to increase your chances of success (though the evidence for this is debatable) because the act of setting an intention and considering the challenges and opportunities before you start can help you troubleshoot early and problem-solve before you start.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
👉 Specific - specify the goal
👉 Measurable - define a measurable target
👉 Attainable - do you have the skills/opportunity/resources to achieve this goal
👉 Realistic - is the goal achievable based on the limitations you have
👉 Timely - set a time frame to achieve the goal by
Here are some examples of SMART goals:
‘I want to make myself one chicken sandwich by 13:00 today for my lunch. I have all of the necessary ingredients for this and have set aside 30 minutes in my lunch break today in order to achieve this goal’
‘I want to be able to run 5K in 30 minutes by the end of my 12 week couch-to-5k course. I will do this by running for 30 minutes 3 times per week and have recruited my neighbour to keep me accountable to this.’
‘I want to successfully insert 3 arterial lines by the end of my 6 month clinical fellowship in ITU. I have agreed with my supervisor that they will supervise me in one attempt each fortnight and provide feedback on my skill.’
If you are still not convinced that F3 doctors can benefit from writing a PDP, here are some more benefits of doing one:
👉 You have reflected on your goals and intentions for your career which gives you a general direction to move in. If you attended our F3 Planning Workshop - you may have already done this exercise!
👉 You have identified possible opportunities for development in advance, which means you’ll be more prepared to seize them when they present themselves.
👉 You have critically appraised your knowledge and skills and identified areas for improvement which can help you decide which CPD opportunities to look out for.
👉 You have clarified your targets and can communicate them easily to those around you who may be able to help you find opportunities that match your goals.
👉 You have prepared for your upcoming appraisal by creating a PDP which you may need to share with your appraiser at the end of the year. z
👉 Making a habit of setting your own goals and sticking to them is an excellent way of ensuring that you don’t panic last minute when it comes to applying for specialties or preparing for an appraisal
👉 They are a really useful tool in giving you control and accountability over your career development, particularly if you’re locuming or out of training.
If you want to learn more about PDPs, or portfolios in general, be sure to visit our Portfolio Companion with is the comprehensive resource for all things portfolio!
Your PDP can include goals for:
👉 Experience (i.e. I want to get more experience in a surgical specialty)
👉 Up-skilling (i.e. I want to practice 10 lumbar punctures this year)
👉 Knowledge (i.e. I want to learn more about renal anaemia)
👉 Broader goals (i.e. I want to feel more confident managing crash calls on night shifts)
👉 Non-clinical goals (i.e. I want to attend management training or a leadership course)
📝 How to write a PDP
Using SMART goals, you should consider how you are progressing in each of these GMC Good Medical Pratice domains and think about how you can improve over the coming months. Set yourself a low bar as life and work tend to get in the way and it doesn’t really feel great to fail in your goals so try and be reasonable in your expectations of yourself.
Read more about how to set PDP goals in our Portfolio Companion here.
The Ultimate Guide to Your Medical Portfolio
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