Continuing professional development (CPD) Standards

Guidance to the CPD Activity Standards

Last revised: 19 Apr 2023

Guidance to the CPD Activity Standards

The RACGP has an approach to education for GPs at all stages of the learning continuum; this is described by the RACGP Educational Framework. This framework expresses the values, priorities, CPD philosophy and scope of education to which the RACGP is committed.

The principles of RACGP education are as follows.

  1. Prioritises holistic, person-centred healthcare.
  2. Addresses the health needs of all people living in Australia in an equitable way.
  3. Is founded on ethical and socially responsible practice.
  4. Promotes innovation in healthcare and general practice.
  5. Is founded on evidence-based best practice and strives to be a leader in medical education.
  6. Values the skills of GP supervisors, educators and researchers.
  7. Promotes professional and personal development and self-care throughout a GP’s career.
  8. Enables GPs to meet the unique needs of those living in rural and remote regions.
  9. Equips GPs to provide healthcare that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  10. Meets the requirements of regulatory bodies.

These principles are important considerations and are a basis for the development of the CPD Activity Standards.

CPD activities are based on identified needs relevant to general practice.

Why this is important

The needs assessment summarises data about the CPD needs of GPs to guide the development of CPD activities. It should provide the evidence of need for the CPD activity and relevance to Australian general practice and the MBA CPD regulatory requirements.

The RACGP CPD Program education activities are designed for GPs; therefore, it is important that GPs are involved in identifying their own needs and those of their peers. GPs’ perspectives and involvement are paramount in informing the needs assessment. 


The needs assessment helps to ensure the education is relevant in terms of meeting gaps in previous CPD activities. This includes new and emerging topics relevant to general practice, such as legislative changes or new guidelines. To ensure that the learning is relevant to GPs, the content should refer to the 2022 RACGP curriculum and syllabus for Australian general practice and be reviewed by a specialist GP.

All medical practitioners need to meet the MBA registration standard: Continuing professional development (effective from 1 January 2023). Therefore, CPD activity planning should consider how the activity will fit within the types of CPD outlined in that standard and this should be reflected in the needs assessment.

Several other sources can be used to provide information about CPD needs. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Australian national or state/territory government health data, legislation or initiatives 
  • National Health Priority Areas 
  • RACGP Educational Framework
  • RACGP publications 
  • data or information from Primary Health Networks 
  • peak bodies and other relevant medical specialties
  • previously published surveys or literature.

When developing an activity, education providers are encouraged to conduct their own research into GP CPD needs. This might involve seeking the views of GPs using questionnaires or focus groups or from evaluation data from a previous CPD activity.

As well as being involved in assessing learning needs, a specialist GP is also required in further planning, development and evaluation of an activity (Standard 3). This is to ensure that the activity is relevant and applicable to general practice.

The Australian Medical Council expects that CPD facilitates the development of medical practitioners across the breadth of practice and is not confined to narrow scopes. The areas specifically identified are:

  • culturally safe practice in providing healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • the role of doctors in addressing health inequities as they work within the health system
  • professionalism and ethical practice.

These areas should be embedded in professional development activities where possible. 

CPD activity learning outcomes are informed by the needs assessment.

Why is this important 

Learning outcomes articulate what the GP will know or be able to do at the end of a CPD activity. The learning outcomes should be derived from the needs assessment and inform the activity design. 


Effective learning outcomes are:

  • clear and easy to understand
  • measurable, so that achievement of outcomes can be assessed. They therefore need to use measurable or demonstrable terms such as ‘describe’, ‘outline’, identify’, ‘evaluate’, ‘develop’, ‘diagnose’, ‘assess’. Avoid using vague words such as ‘understand’, ‘know’, ‘comprehend’, ‘learn’, ‘realise’, which cannot be measured. For further guidance, Bloom’s Taxonomy can also be used
  • relevant – this is achieved by referencing the needs assessment and learning outcomes informed by the context of general practice
  • feasible – the learning outcomes for an activity need to be achievable in the time allocated for that activity. Where an activity is practical (for example, skills training), time for participant practice should be allocated to allow achievement of the outcome.

CPD activities are designed to achieve the learning outcomes. 

Why is this important 

CPD activities should be considered in terms of content and design. As outlined in principle 5 of the RACGP Educational Framework, activities should be founded on evidence-based best practice and contemporary educational practice to maximise opportunities for learning.


There are many CPD theories of learning but, in general, adults learn best when the content is relevant and they are actively engaged in the process. Application to practice, opportunities for feedback and interaction are important considerations in designing a CPD activity. An activity developer should have CPD experience and/or qualifications to ensure that the activity is based on contemporary educational practice.

The activity content should be relevant to Australian general practice and based on current evidence. Evidence may be in the form of resources such as reputable evidence-based references or guidelines relevant to Australian general practice. It is expected that the content will be consistent with the 2022 RACGP curriculum and syllabus for Australian general practice and that a specialist GP is involved in the design of the activity to ensure relevance to general practice.

The RACGP reviews activities, for which samples of the content are required. Samples will depend on the nature of the activity. For example, PowerPoints or access to online modules may be provided. The amount needs to be sufficient for an adequate assessment of the relevance to the learning outcomes and general practice.

CPD activities vary in type. They may be online or face to face, in the form of workshops or lectures, and may consist of an individual participant, or groups of variable size. The design should best facilitate the achievement of the learning outcomes that have been developed based on the needs assessment. For example, an update of knowledge may be undertaken online or in a lecture, while a discussion about application of knowledge to practice could take the form of case-based discussion with a colleague or group.

The activity design must be aligned to the MBA types of activities for CPD.

In some cases, an activity may be composed of a mix of MBA types; therefore, the time allocated to each type should be indicated in the program plan or activity template.

The design can be developed and recorded in a program plan or activity template. A variety of different learning strategies can be used in an activity to engage learners. Some examples are (but not limited to):

  • group, pair or individual learner activities
  • practical skills training
  • case discussions
  • role-plays
  • panel discussions
  • Q&A sessions.

Additional activities, such as reflective questions or multiple-choice questions, may be included before or on completion of an activity. These can be used to orientate learners and provide content relevant to the activity, or to allow reflection about the application of learning or for assessment.

For workshops or face-to-face activities, there are additional considerations related to the delivery of the activity. These include the use of technology (especially for remote activities), number of participants in relation to facilitators and the qualifications of any facilitators involved.

In planning an activity, consider opportunities to provide learners with feedback about their progress towards achievement of the learning outcomes. Examples of feedback activities include personal discussion, such as through pairs or groups, reflective questions or quizzes, and questions with answers.

It is recommended that all activities should consider incorporating some form of assessment. The method and timing of any assessment will vary but should be feasible and matched to the learning outcomes. 

Assessment may be informal or formal. Informal assessments may be as simple as self-reflection using questions or audit results. Formal assessments might include:

  • written work such as essays that are assessed
  • multiple-choice or short-answer questions
  • observed assessment such as oral exams, demonstration of skills, workplace-based assessment.

The form of assessment should reflect the stakes of the activity. Where activity results in the award of a certificate or qualification, the methods require a higher level of rigour in terms of assessment validity and reliability.

Evaluation informs quality improvement of the CPD activity.

Why is this important 

An evaluation strategy is an approach to the collection and analysis of data about an activity to see if it is meeting its intended outcomes and to identify opportunities for improvement. QI is an approach to the analysis of data with the purpose of improving the activity. Data can also assist in identifying areas for the development of future activities.


An evaluation strategy should be part of the planning process. The strategy should consider collection of data from a variety of perspectives (for example, participants, facilitators or developers) and how the data collected will be shared with all those involved in the activity.

Evaluation methods may include collecting responses to questionnaires, individual or focus group interviews or other data such as results of assessments. The results of evaluation may be shared with the developers of an activity, or facilitators or presenters involved in the delivery. They may also be shared with the RACGP.

Where high-stakes assessment is involved, evaluation is essential to determine whether the activity is meeting its aims and assessments are suitable for the purpose.

There are mandatory questions required by the RACGP in evaluating a CPD activity. These will need to be part of the evaluation in addition to any questions the provider wishes to include.

The QI cycle involves reviewing and reflecting on data collected, identifying opportunities for improvement, followed by implementation of any changes. Evaluation and QI are a continuous cycle of review and change.