Ultimate guide to completing your CPD

12th Jul 2023
hand holding pen on paper

Continuing professional development or CPD is a requirement that all dental professionals must undertake to ensure that they are compliant with GDC. Its aim is to ensure that the knowledge and the skills of the registrants is kept up to date, but also that opportunities for development of new ones are present.

Why is CPD important?

Because patient care is our upmost priority. Maintenance of our knowledge and skills enable us to provide the highest standard of care by following the latest guidelines. Not updating these can endanger the safe provision of services that we offer to patients and therefore put our registration with GDC at risk and ultimately lose our ability to practice.

How do you ensure that you are compliant?

By following the Enhanced CPD scheme in 2018 and maintaining your CPD record.

The full guidance from GDC can be found here.

The new scheme is designed to be flexible, so that dental professionals can think of their needs to maintain or better practice according to their field of practice. A few changes have been introduced and we will present you with useful information to hopefully answer all your CPD questions.

Components of CPD record under the new Enhanced CPD scheme:

1.   Personal development plan (PDP)

2.   Log of CPD activity

3.   Documentary evidence: certificates

1. Personal development plan (PDP)

This part of the CPD record will help you identify your needs and organise how you go about completing your intended CPD hours during your five-year cycle. GDC is not specific on the template of your PDP, thereby you can choose to make your own or use one from your employer or professional body. Most importantly is that within it you follow the CPD requirements.

Your PDP must include:

  1. The CPD that you intend to undertake which must be relevant to your field of practice
  2. The outcomes that they are linked to (you can find them in Table 1)
  3. The timeframes that you set and expect to complete the CPDs by

To help you with your PDP an example from the GDCs website has been included (Table 2). This is an example of PDP for a dental nurse in the mixed practice, but plenty other examples are available for dentists, orthodontic therapists, therapist and hygienists and dental technicians and clinical dental technicians.

To note: GDC encourages you to review your plan every year and if your learning needs change you should adjust you PDP accordingly.

What are the types of CPD activities that I can do?

Registrants should only submit verifiable hours of CPD. Verifiable CPDs include:

  • courses and lectures, trainings days, clinical audit, attending conferences or E-learning activity.

It is recommended that CPD hours are acquired through a diverse range of activities, with the scope to encourage discussions and interactive sessions with other colleagues. Over a period of the 5-year cycle, each dental professional must have the minimum number hours according to their title. This should be evenly across the cycle and consist of topics that are relevant to their field of practice.

How many hours do I need to do?

Registrant title Minimum number of hours of verifiable CPD per five-year cycle
Dentists 100
Dental therapists 75
Dental hygienists 75
Orthodontic therapists 75
Clinical dental technicians 75
Dental nurses 50
Dental technicians 50

When do I need to complete my hours by?

Additionally, CPD years are different for dentists and other dental care professionals.

As such:

  • For dentists: from 1st January and 31st December
  • For all other dental care professionals: from 1st August to 31st July

Are there any topics that the GDC are particularly interested in professionals undertaking on a regular basis?

Yes! Although the CPDs that you undertake will be different to others, there is list of topics that are recommended by the GDC that professionals are encouraged to undertake on a regular basis, and this is to ensure that day to day duties are performed in line with the latest best practice guidelines.

CPD topics that are highly recommended by GDC:

  • Medical emergencies: at least two hours in each year and at least 10 hours for each cycle
  • Disinfection and decontamination: at least five hours in each cycle
  • Radiography and radiation protection: at least five hours in each cycle

Other recommended topics include:

  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Complaints handling
  • Oral cancer: early detection
  • Safeguarding children and young people
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults

Table 1. What are the development outcomes and what CPDs can dental professionals do 

Development outcomes Example of CPD content
A  Effective communication with patients, the dental team and others across dentistry including obtaining consent, dealing with complaints and raising concerns when patients are at risk. -        Communications skills

-        Content

-        Complaints handling

-        Raising concerns

-        Safeguarding

B  Effective management of self and effective management of others or effective work with others in the dental team, in the interests of patients; providing constructive leadership where appropriate. -        Effective practice management

-        Business management

-        Team working

-        Leadership skills

C  Maintenance and development of knowledge and skill within your field of practice. -        Clinical and technical area of study

-        Radiography

-        Cross infection control

-        Medical emergencies and CPR

-        Emerging technologies and treatments

-        CPD on quality assurance and MHRA

-        CPD specific for your daily role

-        Upskilling opportunities

D Maintenance of skills, behaviours and attitudes which maintain patient confidence in you and the dental profession and put patients interests first. -        Ethical and legal issues and developments

-        Professional behaviours

-        Equality and diversity training

Table 2. Example of PDP for a dental nurse

Field of practice

My registrant title(s) cycle period, hours required: My work setting(s): Any additional roles, qualifications or professional interests: My patient population:
Dental nurse


2017-2022 cycle

PDP in place for remaining 4 years of my cycle to cover 35 hrs verifiable I have left.

Mixed (NHS and private) general practice, part time.  

-        Perform reception role when needed.

-        Perform sterilisation role when needed.



• General population

• Large ethnic and cultural diversity.


Personal development plan – example taken from GDC’s website.

Learning or Maintenance need


How does this relate to my field of practice?


Which development outcome does it link to? What benefit will this have to my work?


How will I meet this learning or maintenance need? When will I complete the activity?


Build skills in complaints handling. Support myself in practice to carry out effective complaints handling. A. Handle and resolve complaints effectively, both when in the clinic and when in reception. Indemnity provider CPD course on complaints

(2 hours annually).

Quarter 3 annually


Build additional skill: digital impression taking. The surgery has a new CAD-CAM machine which will require me to take digital impressions under the prescription of the other registrants. C Perform a task that is required for my daily role/duties.


Take digital impressions course, provided by machine company (2 hours).


Medical emergencies/ basic life support.


As per the standards, must follow guidelines for training set by Resuscitation Council. Expected as part of my general clinical duties. C. Must be able to assist in managing medical emergencies in every day practice.


My team is attending a course provided by Resuscitation Council. (2 hours per year, 10 hours total) Quarter 1 annually
Maintain and build understanding of equality and diversity. Contract requirement for all surgery staff to do regularly.


D Will help to ensure that I am treating all patients with respect and dignity.


Equality and diversity training in surgery for all staff (1 hour per year).


Quarter 3 annually
Disinfection and decontamination. I am responsible for disinfection and decontamination of the surgery on a daily basis, both when nursing and assisting in the sterilisation room. C Will ensure I am up to date with current best practice recommendations, and ensure patient safety.


External company comes to the practice to train the team 1 hour per year. Annually


Clinical photography We have a locum orthodontist who works part time and requires staff to take photographs for treatment planning. C. The course will allow me to take on additional duties in my role, and use the equipment effectively.


2 hours course 2018
Annual appraisal Contract requirement for all surgery staff.


B Review and reflect on performance for the year- help me to identify my strengths and areas of improvement. Undertaken internally with practice manager

(2 hours total - 1 hour prep work and 1 hour meeting).

Quarter 4 annually

2. Log of CPD activity

All the activity that you do will need to be recorded in the log of activity including the following details:

  • Title and description of the CPD
  • The date when was undertaken
  • The number of hours
  • The GDC development outcome/s

An example template from the GDC’s websites has been included below.

Activity log

Name:                         Registration number:                          Cycle period:

Date Hours completed Evidence of verifiable CPD? (e.g certificate) Title provider and content of the CPD activity Development oucome(s) How did this activity benefit my daily work?
The date(s) which you undertook the CPD activity CPD hours as confirmed by the relevant certificate Please ensure that you gain evidence for all verifiable activity that you are counting for your CPD record Title that the provider uses, name of provider, what was covered in activity. A, B, C, D In reflecting on your CPD activity, you might like to think about the following: · What did you learn (or confirm) from the activity that was helpful or relevant to your daily work and patients? · Did you identify any changes/updates needed in your daily work, and if so, what? How did you make these changes? · If you didn’t identify changes needed, what did the activity confirm for you, that you may already know or be doing? · What was the benefit to your work and/or your patients in carrying out this activity?

What are the elements that must be included on your certificate?

On the right hand side, you can see a model provided by GDC with all the elements required from each activity.

cpd certificate markup

3. Documentary evidence of all CPD activities

a. You should have record of every CPD activity undertaken to demonstrate their completion.

The three components together represent the CPD record and at the end of every year, dental professional will declare their number of CPD hours, that a CPD record is in place and that this consists of activity relevant to the field of practice. This is done through the annual renewal statement on the GDC’s website.

Where do I find CPDs?

You can get training at work through organised training sessions within the dental practice, go to conferences where several CPDs activities will be available or undertake E-learning on platform offered by CPD provider companies. This usually involves one off cost or a membership. Here at Cavity, we are dedicated to helping dental nurse and are working to developing courses. Our current free courses can be found here (link to free CPD).