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Personal development plans (PDP)

Close up of a blood pressure monitor
Learning needs of students and trainees usually arise from curricular learning outcomes which are pre-specified and related to stage of training, as well as those related to individual personal skills development needs such as time management and/ or prioritisation skills.

A trainee’s PDP is usually drawn up in discussion with their supervisor who has a responsibility for guiding the trainee’s educational progress. Once the trainee’s learning needs have been identified, the supervisor can help identify learning opportunities and resources within the placement for the trainee to be able to meet these needs. A suitable PDP can then be developed to achieve these. This might require prioritisation of learning needs so as to have a realistic plan for achieving them during the placement.

The ideal PDP consists of learning objectives designed to meet the development needs of the student or trainee. Learning objectives and the strategies to achieve these should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). PDPs should also include milestones which can help the trainee and the supervisor assess progress towards achieving the objective at regular supervision meetings. Towards the end of the placement, it can be used to assess whether all the learning objectives included in the PDP were achieved satisfactorily. This can also be a good opportunity to discuss any that were not achieved, including barriers and challenges faced, and a discussion about whether any of these could have been addressed if identified at an earlier stage.

You can download an example PDP form at the bottom of this page in the downloads section.

© University of East Anglia
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