Tips and FAQ

This page contains Tips and Frequently Asked Questions related to the RCPA CPD program and its use on the web site.


The RCPA CPDP has been restructured with advice from the Discipline Advisory Committees and Faculties. Changes will apply from 2020. The new structure has been designed to align with the strengthened CPD component of the Medical Board of Australia’s Professional Performance Framework, and planned changes to the Medical Council of New Zealand’s recertification requirements. The new RCPA policy and manual will be published on the website in December 2019.

The new RCPA CPD Framework will support Fellows to complete CPD that is focused on practice improvement and includes peer or self-review of performance and quality/outcome/audit measures to promote patient safety and demonstrate ongoing competence to the relevant scope of practice.

To read more about the MBA’s research and evidence for strengthening CPD, view the Building a Professional Performance Framework document. To read more about the MCNZ’s evidence base for recertification, view Recertification – evidence to support change.

The main changes are as follows:

  1. Integration of existing Internal Quality Assurance Frameworks (IQA) into a new structure comprising four categories:
    1. Group activities/meetings
    2. Personal Study, teaching and research
    3. Peer review
    4. Quality and outcomes measures
  2. 15 hours for each category (a total of 60 hours) to be documented on an annual basis, rather than the current 500 hours over a five-year cycle
  3. A broader and more flexible range of activities that may be included
  4. A new and more streamlined online interface for recording and monitoring activities

You must attain 60 hours to meet your annual requirement. Within each category you must select at least two activities, in addition to mandatory elements that are relevant to your scope of practice. You can choose which CPD activities you complete with a minimum of 15 hours per category. This change will ensure that you are meeting both the MBA and MCNZ expectations.

The College will provide general advice to all CPD Fellows via email, social media and on the RCPA website, and more specific advice for Fellows requiring clarity or guidance (see contact details on bottom of this page). The RCPA CPDP Information Manual has been updated to reflect the new requirements.

The existing online tools will remain available to enable completion of documentation for the 2019 cycle. From January 2020, you will need to compile your documentation in accordance with the new program. The types of documentary evidence required will remain essentially unchanged.

We encourage all Fellows to complete a Professional Development Plan (PDP), but it is compulsory for all medical Fellows registered in Australia, and all medical and dental Fellows registered in New Zealand, effective from 2020. View more detailed information on PDPs, including several examples and suggested templates.

Submissions must be finalised by March 31 for the preceding year’s record.

Fellows can still opt for one of two methods of CPD submission:

Both methods can be accessed by logging on to the College website, to this page:

  • Logbook entry – the submission of individual activities as (or shortly after) they occur, into the appropriate codes and categories, creating a personal online archive of activities
  • Annual Return – a ‘one-off’ submission in which Fellows enter the number of hours of relevant activity they have completed per category for the CPD calendar year.
    A spreadsheet template for recording activities is provided, along with a form for manual submission of activities for Fellows experiencing technical difficulties with online submission.

Documentation may include -

  • Programs, certificates of attendance or registration receipts from conferences
  • For in-service education, copies of diary entries or statement of attendance from department head
  • For lectures or tutorials given, invitation or confirmation letter, or advertising flyer
  • Reports or evaluations of projects or learning plans
  • Result notification or certificate of attainment for formal education activities
  • Abstracts for oral presentations, poster presentations or journal articles written
  • Copy of timetable for lecture series
  • Notes on quality activities
  • Meeting invitations
  • Correspondence (letters and emails) where appropriate.

Although supporting documentation is not mandatory for either method of submission, Fellows are strongly advised to retain appropriate records in case of random audit by the College or the relevant registration authorities.

  • Records should be kept for at least 3 years
  • Records must be confidential (ie, patient-identifying information should be redacted or removed)

The RCPA CPD Information Manual has tables for each category with explanatory material for each of the activity codes along with examples of typical supporting documentation.

Recording CPD activities

The CPD recording spreadsheet is useful for all Fellows submitting an annual return, to help them keep track of their hours per category as the year progresses.

The following IQA documents, focused mainly on Peer Review and Quality, provide a variety of templates (some with sample entries) which Fellows may find useful for their purposes. Note that while some mention specific disciplines, structures can be adapted for any scope of practice.

Formal Case Review Sheet

Quality Log Issue

MDT Case Presentation

Internal 2nd Opinion

External 2nd Opinion

Case Audit Worksheet

Protocol for Random Audit Template - Histopathology

Professional Development Plan (PDP)

The College encourages all Fellows to complete a Professional Development Plan (PDP), but it is compulsory for all medical Fellows registered in Australia, and all medical and dental Fellows registered in New Zealand, effective from 2020. Note that while some documents mention specific disciplines, structures can be adapted for any scope of practice.

PDP example: General Pathology - Management and Leadership

PDP example: Microbiology – Infection Control and Genomics

PDP example: Anatomical Pathology - Cytopathology

PDP Word template 1

PDP Word template 2

PDP Excel template 1

Structured Annual Conversation

The RCPA encourages Fellows to arrange an annual conversation with a peer, colleague or employer, to review their goals, achievements, continuing professional development needs, and opportunities. This process may prove useful in constructing Professional Development Plans (PDP).

Suggested template for recording Annual Conversation

The College’s CPD requirements for new Fellows commence from 1 January in the year following the granting of Fellowship.

Though there is no College CPD requirement for trainees or retired Fellows, both categories of Member are welcome to participate in the program. This participation is ‘self-managed’ in that only Members who are required to complete CPD will be sent regular reminders by the College. If you are not currently participating in CPD but would like to do so, please contact

It is RCPA policy that all registered medical and dental Fellows must individually participate in External Quality Assurance (EQA) activities where suitable activities or programs exist for the applicable scope of practice. Individual enrolment in such programs is not required, but some examples of suitable programs offered by the RCPA QAP for individual participation are as follows:

  • Anatomical pathology diagnostic proficiency modules
  • Gynaecological and non-gynaecological cytopathology
  • Chemical pathology patient report comments
  • Haematology morphology
  • Immunopathology case study module
  • Serology specimen-free program
  • Training and Competency Assessment Modules


Which category applies?

Category C (Peer Review) may apply for individual enrolment in a QAP program where your own work is being reviewed. Participation in quality assurance activities, including QAP self- assessment programs, may be included in category D (Quality and Outcomes Measures) where there is a quality improvement focus. There is overlap however, and participants may choose whichever category they believe to be most appropriate.

QAP also offers some educational modules for personal study (Category B). Examples include the Biosecurity eLearning Program and the Synovial Fluid Educational Program.

For further details, please see the QAP website.

The RCPA offers online educational modules and case studies that can add to your category B (Personal Study) requirements. They include:

If you would like to boost your category C (Peer Review) credits, you could consider contributing collaboratively to the development of new resources or revision of existing ones. If you have any ideas, please contact

Chemical Pathology Fellow Dr Janet Warner outlines the changes to the RCPA CPD Program, which will come into place in 2020.

Open Video

Australian and New Zealand pathologists who are not engaged in pathology practice (eg, haematologists or anatomical pathologists who are involved in clinical, academic or managerial work rather than lab-based pathology) may elect to become a ‘non-practising’ Fellow.

This status removes the obligation to submit CPD but Fellowship remains otherwise unaffected. There is no variation in fees accompanying non-practising status.

As CPD participation is generally a condition of re-registration as a practicing specialist, it is the responsibility of the Fellow to notify AHPRA or the MCNZ of their non-participation in the College’s CPD program. Both registering bodies offer a non-practicing specialist registration status.

Fellows intending to re-enter pathology practice at some future date are strongly advised to maintain their CPDP participation and compliance where possible, as stringent conditions apply to recommencement of practice. These conditions align with the Medical Board of Australia’s Recency of Practice Standard and the College’s Absence from Practice policy – see page 3 of the CPD Information Manual for further information.

Fellows not intending to return to practice may elect to cease membership of the College, but should note that this precludes further use of RCPA post-nominals.

In May 2020, the College supplemented, with a comprehensive Guidelines document, the information provided by the CPD policy and Manual in light of feedback from Fellows about impacts arising from the changes recently made to CPD policy and systems.

Please consult the Guideline: Peer Review, Quality and Outcomes Measures, Professional Development Plans and Structured Annual Conversations.

The College has also developed a Peer Review FAQ to assist Fellows.



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The Export function is only available on the desktop version.

An Excel file is created listing all activities you have completed for the date range you have selected. You can also export based on specific categories or codes.


The From Date will default to 1 January of the current year, and the To Date to today’s date. Adjust these to select the period you wish to view.

The activities can be arranged in ascending or descending order by Date, Activity Name or whether they have an attachment by simply clicking on their Sort icons at the top of the columns.

Use the 'Add New Activity' button to create Log Book entries.


View your activities by selecting the date range and filtering by the categories.



From the 'Enter Log Book / Search Activities' page you can Edit, Clone and Delete activities you have added. Once you have finalised your Log Book entries you cannot Edit, Clone or Delete activities.


From the 'Log Book Entries' page you can have the option of several buttons-

  • SUBMIT - Saves your entry and takes you back to the activity page for you to view the entries.
  • SUBMIT and CLONE - Useful for entering regular activities such as weekly meetings. Saves your entry and automatically leaves your category/code selection on the screen. You can then adjust the date and enter a description, and SUBMIT the entry (or SUBMIT and CLONE if you are entering multiple dates for the same activity).
  • SUBMIT and ADD ANOTHER - Saves your entry and clears the selections allowing you to make a new entry.
  • CANCEL - Does not save your entry; takes you back to the activity page.


Export function - The export function currently exports only activity data, but will be expanded to export/download the attachments you have uploaded with your activities.

If you have any suggestions for enhanced functionality, please contact



If you have any queries or suggestions regarding the RCPA CPDP, please consult the Tips and FAQ page or contact

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