Does continuing professional development enhance patient care? A survey of Irish based general practitioners : Successful implementation of mandatory CPD in Irish General Practice

BMC Med Educ. 2022 Mar 31;22(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03292-z.


Introduction: The Irish Medical Council has regulated mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) for doctors since 2011 to enhance the quality and safety of Irish healthcare. The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), as the professional body for general practitioners (GPs) in Ireland, operates a Professional Competence Scheme (PCS) for doctors working in general practice. As PCS evolves over time, it is important to measure the impact of mandatory CPD on patient care. The ICGP undertook this study to answer the research question: Does CPD enhance patient care? Research has been conducted on the impact of CPD on the medical profession, both in Ireland and abroad, on GP engagement with existing CPD supports and on the impact of CPD for GPs in other countries. To date, no study has been carried out in Ireland on GP views on the impact of mandatory CPD on patient care or on which type of CPD activity is perceived to be the most effective in this regard.

Methods: All PCS enrollees on the 2018/2019 year who had provided an email address (n = 4,415) were asked to complete an anonymous online survey available in April and May 2019. The survey aimed to obtain feedback on existing CPD supports, enhancement of CPD supports, CPD impact on general practice and on patient care. The survey questions which related specifically to patient care were used to inform this paper.

Results: A total of 1,233 (27.9%) PCS enrolees participated in the survey. Overall, 73.9% (n = 836) of respondents agreed that CPD assisted them in improving the quality of patient care with females significantly more likely to consider that CPD improved patient care. A total of 74.9% (n = 848) reported changes to patient management as a result of CPD activity and over half (56.4%; n = 464) of these believed that external CPD activity (courses/conferences) had the most potential to benefit their patient care, however, differences were observed across gender and age group.

Conclusion: The majority of GPs who completed the survey found CPD engagement beneficial to their patient care. The majority of respondents agree that peer engagement activities are most likely to impact patient care thus demonstrating that mandatory CPD has been successfully implemented in this respect in Irish general practice. However, there is a difference in response to the various CPD formats across different demographic cohorts and this should be considered when designing the format of educational activities.

Keywords: Continuing medical education; General practice; Patient-centred care; Primary care; Quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Patient Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires