Mastering CPD: Staying relevant and competent in a changing practice environment
The South African Pharmacy Council continuing professional development system is one that emphasises outcome-based learning and does not rely on the accumulation of points as an indicator of learning. As such, it is easy to comply with CPD requirements and the system allows for a cost-free learning process. Learning could occur through short courses, self-study, on-the-job guidance or learning, webinars, journal articles, amongst many other avenues.

Mastering CPD: Staying relevant and competent in a changing practice environment

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) process is designed to be executed simply and interactively. Pharmacists are provided with step-by-step tutorials as well as presentations on the SAPC CPD Blog ( to show practising pharmacists how to go about completing and submitting their CPD entries (CPDs) on the website. The wealth of information on CPDs makes the pursuit of mastering the process easily attainable.

To master the CPD process, pharmacists should view CPD as a continuous journey of both personal and professional development. Understanding how these two factors overlap will encourage pharmacists to invest time and energy in submitting thoroughly completed CPDs that include well-thought-out descriptions of their reflection, planning, implementation, and evaluation of their journey.

The four-step cycle

In the first step of the cycle (reflection), the pharmacist must ask themselves where they have identified knowledge gaps and how those gaps subsequently affect their daily experience as pharmacists. After identifying an area, they need to improve on, pharmacists must draft a plan of how they intend to get the additional skill set needed, this can be any relevant skill/knowledge, such as learning a new language or working on effective communication in a managerial position (this step is called planning).

In the third step (implementation), the pharmacist will detail how they have implemented their plan; this may include details concerning an article they read, a webinar they attended, the coursework they had undertaken or the classes they attended to acquire the skills/knowledge they needed to improve themselves. In the evaluation step, the pharmacist assesses what they have learnt and how this will benefit them in their professional capacity as well as on their development journey. Additionally, in this step, the pharmacist must assess if they can transfer this knowledge by training their colleagues.

The two-step cycle

The two-step cycle works for people who may not have much time on their hands and feel that their best efforts can be given by introspecting and exploring using only two steps; namely, implementation and evaluation. The two-step cycle can only be used to complete a maximum of three (3) CPD activities in a year, while the remaining three are completed using the four-step cycle. When using the two-step cycle, pharmacists will detail only the last two steps from the four-step cycle.

Lessons from the 2020 CPD Experts

The South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) has an exciting YouTube channel (OfficialSAPC) that features virtual podcasts interviewing several 2020 CPD Experts, Mr James Parry, Ms Margaretha Struwig, Ms Lucia Moshole, and Mr Yunus Dawood. In these interviews, pharmacists, and aspiring pharmacy professionals will hear how introspective and beneficial CPDs are when done correctly and thoroughly. Access the playlist of these beneficial interviews at this link:

Mr James Parry

Mr Parry provides insight on his perspective of the four-step cycle and how he managed to submit 44 CPD entries in the 2020 cycle. His key words of advice are to make CPD entries a part of your daily routine so that you are not overwhelmed when the time comes to submit. The CPD Expert says that he found first drafting his answers to each of the CPD cycle steps on a Microsoft Word document in their order of appearance useful. Mr Parry says this helped him express himself fully while maintaining cohesion and flow throughout his work. “This is to ensure that the content and “flow” of the narrative is what I wish to convey,” says Mr Parry.

Ms Margaretha Struwig

Ms Struwig submitted 26 CPD entries in the 2020 CPD compliance cycle. The 2020 CPD Expert says that the secret to complying is to ensure that one immediately logs their CPD activity once they have completed it, be it a course/webinar being attended, a journal article, or other learning activity in the pharmacy environment. “I have a template of the procedure to log the CPD activity that I use each time. I just change the topic, learning need, reasoning, etc. each time,” says Ms Struwig, advising pharmacists to compile a Microsoft Word template comprising each of the CPD cycle steps to be completed immediately after each learning activity. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes,” she says.

Ms Lucia Moshole

While some pharmacists have pointed out that they struggle with identifying a learning need in the Reflection step of the CPD cycle, Ms Moshole, who submitted 13 CPD entries, points out that this is a fairly easy process that could be attained daily in the pharmacy practice environment. She gives possible scenarios that could aid in identifying a learning need: “if there is a process which I do not understand in my capacity as a pharmacy manager, if I receive a prescription for a new drug on the market, if a drug which I need to refresh my knowledge on [is prescribed], or if a patient requests information on a subject matter which I do not know much about”.

The 2020 CPD Expert encourages pharmacists to aim to submit at least one (1) CPD every two months to ensure that by December of each year, they are fully compliant with the CPD requirements for that year.

Mr Yunus Dawood

Mr Dawood, a CPD Expert who submitted 19 CPD entries, feels that CPD is a crucial process that all pharmacists should embrace. “As a healthcare professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that patients derive maximum benefit from their treatment with medication, and this requires you to keep abreast of developments in both pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences,” says Mr Dawood.

On understanding the CPD process, Mr Dawood has found the guide to submitting An Ideal CPD available on the SAPC CPD Blog ( and advises pharmacists struggling with the process to access this guide.

He advises pharmacists to tackle the planning step by answering four questions: What? How? Why? and When?. He says, “How exactly are you going to learn this? (i.e. address the learning need). What are your options? Why will you do it this way? For example, what options are available, workshops, short courses, informal talks, chatting with colleagues and people in the profession?”

Pharmacists are encouraged to access CPD resources, including the CPD Guidance Document, how-to articles and videos, among others, via the SAPC CPD Blog at


Service Delivery Survey

ePharmaciae Rate Card

Best wishes for 2022

Best wishes for 2022