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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) How does the BGS shape up?

In 2014 a survey was performed evaluating the views of BGS members with regard to the role of the BGS in acquiring their CPD needs. Here, Elaine Lunt, Specialist Registrar in Nottingham and Tahir Masud, BGS Vice President in Education and Training, report on the findings.

The GMC expects doctors to develop and improve their practice by maintaining up to date knowledge and skills through continuing professional development (CPD). It aims to enhance the safety and quality of the care provided across all work areas of a physician’s professional practice. For geriatricians that includes keeping up proficiency in general medicine and pertinent geriatric sub specialties. The BGS has a role in supporting CPD and all meetings organised under the BGS umbrella are authorised for CPD accreditation by the RCP (Royal College of Physicians London). 


Of the 86 responders to the BGS’s survey to evaluate how the organisation fares in meeting its members’ CPD needs, 73 per cent were consultants, 16 per cent STRs, 5 per cent career grades, 5 per cent nurses or AHPs, and there was one research fellow. The results will be used to try to improve CPD availability and quality for the BGS members. Furthermore since the survey was undertaken there have been further developments to help CPD on the BGS website, blog, e-bulletins and twitter. 

Bi-annual scientific meetings: 80 per cent of respondents were satisfied these usefully contributed to their CPD needs: Suggestions for improvement of these meetings from respondents include incorporating more original science material as they are “science-lite”. Additionally some consultants would welcome new sessions covering service provisions, controversies in geriatric medicine and the changing directions in which we need to work. However the programme content of the BGS scientific meetings is obliged to concentrate on topics for CPD through a 5 year cycle as all physicians need to demonstrate 250 hours of CPD over a 5 year period, averaging 50 hours per year. General medical topics with a frailty perspective are deliberately included in the programme to ensure the BGS fulfils its responsibility in maintaining knowledge across all clinical areas of a geriatrician’s work including general medicine. For the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) the requirement is to attain 35 hours of CPD in 3 years. 

Other feedback from the survey included proposals to incorporate more interactive sessions and video enabled presentations as they are well received learning tools. 

Location is the main obstacle given by all grades for not attending more than 2 BGS Scientific Meetings in the past two years

The BGS tries to address this by rotating the venues across the UK, but inevitably some regions are less accessible than others. The second reason given by consultants was limited staff cover during conferences with all colleagues wanting to attend the same conferences. 

The other concern from non-consultant grades was the expense attached to attending these meetings, especially as study budgets for STRs do not cover more than one conference a year. Allied Health Professionals (AHP) felt it necessitated too much time and money for the educational return. Suggestions of an annual conference were proposed by a few but this would be at a variance with the concerns on limited staff cover that prevented some from attending more frequently. 

Special interest group (SIG) meetings: over 55% of respondents were satisfied these usefully contributed to their CPD needs: Typically each SIG either holds its own 6-monthly or annual scientific meeting or provides parallel sessions at the Society’s UK meetings. The feedback varied with some SIGs gaining excellent feedback compared to others. The most popular SIGs attended by those questioned were movement disorders, falls and cardiovascular. However a few respondents felt elite participation, heavy industry sponsorship and poor advertising provided negative experiences of these meetings. Some consultants were disappointed in the coverage of the same topics repeatedly overlooking new advances. AHPs found travel and cost a stumbling block to attending and felt that the meetings were too focused on medical staff, needing more multidisciplinary emphasis to be worthwhile. 

Regional meetings: over two thirds of consultants were satisfied these usefully contributed to their CPD needs: The regional meetings are organised locally and the BGS provide support including publicising the events, online registration and co-ordination of abstracts. Several comments emphasised that the success of these meetings depended on the enthusiasm and commitment of the organisers. Several consultants in this survey experienced discontent that the BGS assistance is not being fully utilised and felt that this may contribute to the reduced quality of the teaching. One AHP proposed an Internet based regional meeting to attain CPD points and to limit travel and costs.  

Positive suggestions for improvement included more regular regional meetings that concentrate on a dedicated CPD programme which, if set nationally, could free up the Society’s scientific meetings to incorporate more science.  

Age and Ageing: 92 per cent of consultants and 92 per cent of STRs were satisfied the journal usefully contributed to their CPD needs: Age and Ageing is primarily an international scientific journal published by the BGS comprised of original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological and psychological aspects of later life. The clinical reviews are favourably welcomed by both consultants and STRs and some of those surveyed suggested there could be a greater clinical emphasis within the journal, especially in relation to best practice. Some responders wanted more articles on service improvement to provide added value of the journal to everyday practice. In this regard the editor of Age and Ageing Professor David Stott is keen to encourage submission of high quality health service improvement evaluations. Intending authors should look at extensive guidance for different study types on the EQUATOR network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of heath Research; 

CME journal: over 80 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the journal contributing to their CPD needs: Sadly the next edition of CME in Geriatrics Journal will be the last one. Many respondents considered the journal useful for teaching and valued the review articles in particular. The STRs surveyed felt it to be of high quality and very relevant to practice development. The MCQs were valuable to consolidate learning but many needed more “evidence” of CPD attainment for their portfolios such as printable certificates. One AHP felt the journal was not suitable as it is too targeted towards medical staff. The BGS would like to thank Professor Duncan Forsyth, the last editor of the CME in Geriatrics and the previous editors (Professor Steve Allen and Professor Mike Vassallo) for their hard work over the years.  

Other sources of CPD accreditation are available

There are many other methods of attaining CPD accreditation outside the BGS and feedback from the survey implied most respondents chose resources based on location and cost. Thirty-three out of 47 consultants who replied to this question used the RCP (London), RCP (Edinburgh) or its published journal: Clinical medicine. The RCP organises local events, has a dedicated CME section in the journal and the RCPE provides educational online modules. The BMJ (British Medical Journal) group is the next favourite with consultants; it provides journals, BMJ learning online and BMJ masterclasses. Both organisations provide good coverage of acute general medicine, are easy to use and provide flexible education through online learning. The UK Stroke forum and specialist stroke meetings are popular for those specialising in this field. Other organisations specialising in geriatrics also provide CPD accreditation such as the EUGMS (European Union Geriatrics Medicine Society) and IAGG (International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology). 

For STRs regional training days in GIM, the British Association of Stroke Physicians and online general medical modules again especially from RCPE provide additional resources. 

Eleanor Lunt, Specialist Registrar, Nottingham
Tahir Masud, BGS Vice President in Education and Training


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