Dental Mentors Blog

How mentoring helps with Personal Development Planning?

Why do we need Personal Development Plans (PDPs)?

Most of us will have an idea of our career plans for the next 12 months and have thought about the professional development we need during the year to meet our goals, even if we plan to carry on as usual making sure we do our allotted continuing professional development (CPD) as determined by the General Dental Council (GDC).

But are you sometimes bamboozled with the amount of CPD available on-line, off- line, distance learning, new guidelines, Postgraduate diplomas, certificates, dental magazines, via e-mails, fliers, or local dental education providers, specialist societies etc ?.

It’s easier to decide what CPD you’re going to do, if you have an idea of your priorities for learning so that the money and time you spend is effective and increases your skills and confidence. We sometimes keep this in our heads, but it’s easier to make sure that you follow your plan and do not miss out anything vital if it’s written down, (much like patient records!).

The GDC’s requirements:

The GDC states that Personal Development Planning is the key to Lifelong Learning

The GDC requires all registrants to develop an ethos of personal development planning to help ensure targeted learning and development needs that will contribute to high levels of professional performance.

Working with a mentor

For many of us, the process of reflecting and evaluating strengths and weaknesses is not something we are particularly comfortable with. It can help to work with a trusted colleague and bounce ideas off them. A mentor will help you to more easily identify your needs and the best way of meeting them in a realistic and effective way. Having a mentor may be part of your PDP, particularly if you are at a stage where you are at a crossroads or feel ‘stuck’ – your mentor will be able to help you to reflect on your priorities and explore your options.

Simple Personal Development Plan

Using a personal development plan (PDP) is simply a means of identifying your development needs and wants whilst devising the best way to achieve them.
Taking the first step can be tricky but your PDP can be developed using some concise headings:

  • Identify your real qualities - What are your main achievements clinically and non-clinically?
  • Identify any clinical concerns or areas for development - What development needs do I have?
  • How will I address them? Explain how you will take action and the resources needed
  • What are my priorities? Which are the most important
  • Date by which you plan to achieve the development goals
  • Outcome How will your practice change as a result of the development activities
  • Completed Confirmation your development need has been met
  • Evidence of completion eg. reflective writing, course certificates.

PDP format.

You can choose the format that best suits you from any number of proformas available on line, in books or from colleagues.

Key principles include reading the current evidence or guidelines, examining your current practice, reflecting on how improvements can be made and implemented, and developing a plan linked to a time line for the learning needs to be met.

Getting started

Taking time out of a busy schedule to reflect on personal development planning, whether in a dental practice, hospital or clinic setting, can be challenging particularly as we all need to balance our professional and personal lives in a busy world.

You may develop your PDP on your own by reflecting on current practice, through a formal appraisal or following professional concerns raised about your practice.

And whether or not you are a natural reflector, the time taken out of your normal daily routine is well worth it, in terms of clarifying what you want to do and how you will achieve your aims. It can save you time and money and prevent you taking a blind alley


  3. Personal Development Plans for dentists Rughani, Franklin and Dixon Radcliffe
    Professional Development 2008 ISBN 978-1-85775-917-4



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Dental Mentors UK is run by two experienced dental mentors.
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We believe that all dental professionals would benefit from regularly working with a mentor from a personal as well as a professional point of view. Mentors are experienced dental professionals who can guide and support you throughout your career.

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