How to build and use a PDP

The Personal Development Plan (PDP) is a useful tool that should if utilised properly can be very effective. 

It is an opportunity for you to think about what your goals for the short, medium and long term are and how are you are going to achieve them. In doing so it becomes a very personalised plan that allows you to then seek the resources from your trainers to progress.

As a trainee you need to tie in your PDP to your training objectives and career goals. In engaging with this activity you will be able to highlight what your focus is and what you need to achieve them.

An example of a good PDP identifies your learning needs and what you want to develop. Describes achievable aims and objectives and comes from a reflection of your work/life/career goals.

The simple questions you want to ask(2)

  • what do I want/need to learn?
  • what will I do to achieve it? 
  • what resources and/or support will I need?
  • how will I know I have been successful? What are my learning outcomes?
  • what are my target dates for completion and review?

Good personal development planning will help you achieve your potential as it will help you to identify your skills gaps and improvement areas/learning needs.

Areas you can address as a trainee include

  • Surgical skills
  • Clinical skills – outpatients, inpatients, emergencies
  • Research
  • Audit
  • Teaching
  • Quality Improvement
  • Knowledge/Exam Prep including courses 

The PDP should be considered a dynamic document and be continually updated.

PDP Wizard – New


(1) BMJ Learning Module

(2) Health Careers – Personal Development Planning 

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