South African health practitioners’ patterns of CPD practices – implications for maintenance of licensure

S A Singh, T D Fish


Background. The statutory requirement for continuing professional development (CPD) for all health professionals registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has been in place since 2007. The HPCSA intends to implement maintenance of licensure (MoL).

Objectives. To determine practitioners’ perceptions and experiences of engaging with CPD to inform the development of the MoL system.

Methods. A cross-sectional survey of practitioners registered with the HPCSA was conducted. The self-administered 30-item electronic questionnaire covered practitioner demographics and patterns of CPD practice and was completed by 11 307 respondents.

Results. Methods used to determine learning needs included self-assessment (56.8%) and audit of own practice (53.2%). Selection of CPD activities was based on interest (80.2%) and expertise (72.8%) and less so on gaps in knowledge (66.1%) and skills (61.8%). The most frequent learning activities were primarily didactic (workshops (58%), lectures (53%) and conferences (51%)). Barriers included cost and location of CPD activities, especially for women and rural practitioners (p<0.001). Employer support for CPD was associated with adherence (p<0.001). There was strong support (88.7%) for continuing education as a component of MoL, but less support (<50%) for other elements, even though practitioners voluntarily engaged with these practices.

Conclusion. Respondents engage in a range of activities that could be incorporated into a MoL system. The transition to MoL requires development of tools, including objective assessments, guidelines for individualised learning programmes and expanding the range of learning activities. Strategies to address barriers to CPD need to be considered.

Authors' affiliations

S A Singh, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

T D Fish, Division of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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CPD; Maintenance of licensure; Barriers; Adherence; Health practitioners; Revalidation; Recertification

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2019;11(4):123-128. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2019.v11i4.1088

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-12-12
Date published: 2019-12-12

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