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Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is any learning outside of undergraduate education or postgraduate training that helps surgeons maintain and improve their performance. It covers the development of surgeons’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of their professional practice and includes both formal and informal learning activities.

CPD requirements for revalidation

The GMC has set out the broad principles for CPD for revalidation in the GMC Guidance on CPD. The surgical colleges and specialty associations have further defined these requirements. In summary surgeons should:

  • Complete 50 hours of CPD each year and at least 250 hours in a revalidation cycle. It is expected that most surgeons would easily exceed this minimum.
  • Choose CPD activities that are genuinely developmental. Activities should be relevant to the surgeon’s practice, and support current skills and knowledge or career development.
  • Surgeons should aim to achieve a balance of activities between clinical, academic and professional. No more than 20 hours of CPD should be from a single type of activity.
  • Recording of CPD activity should include a reflection of the learning gained from each activity and the likely effect on the surgeon’s professional work.

The surgical colleges and specialty associations have produced a summary CPD guide for surgery. This includes a CPD checklist which can be used as an aid during appraisal discussions. The guide can be read in conjunction with the full guidance on CPD for surgeons.

Recording CPD

We recommend that surgeons record data about their CPD activity using tools provided by their trust or a third party.

Does the RCS review or certify CPD?

No, the College does not review or certify individual surgeons’ CPD. Surgeons should not submit information on their CPD for certification, and the College does not provide CPD certificates to surgeons.

Instead, surgeons should present a summary of the CPD undertaken for discussion and assessment at appraisal. The appraiser is responsible for assessing the suitability of the chosen CPD activities to the surgeon’s practice and developmental needs.

CPD opportunities at the College

There are a range of services and tools offered by College which are valuable opportunities for CPD. These include:

  • Education and Training courses: The College is the largest global provider of surgical training courses and more than two-thirds of our courses run at regional centres across England. College fellows and members can take advantage of course discounts.
  • RCS Library resources: RCS Library resources aim to meet the training and development needs of surgeons throughout their professional careers. College members can access 200+ specialised e-journals and use Ovid Medline and Embase to link directly from search results to full text where available.
  • College Publications, the Annals and Bulletin
  • Wellcome MuseumThe Wellcome Museum is for medical professionals only. The museum houses modern anatomy and pathology specimens of outstanding medical significance which are valuable resources for private study. Throughout the year the museum runs extended openings to provide extra time for study. A surgeon is often available during these extended openings to help with revision for the MRCS examinations.

Course accreditation

The College has a process for reviewing and (where appropriate) accrediting surgical events for CPD. In order to apply for CPD Accreditation, or for further information, visit the College’s Accreditation Portal or contact the College QA Department at

Course accreditation can guide surgeons to quality CPD activities. It is not, however, mandatory. The responsibility lies with individual surgeons to demonstrate the suitability of the CPD they have undertaken to their practice and the learning achieved through their CPD activity when they are appraised.

Advice and FAQ

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has produced a document answering frequently asked questions on CPD.

If you have any additional questions, or would like further information, you can contact the College at

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