The science of medical practice is fast-paced, with new research, therapies, technology and best-practice guidelines coming to light every day. Doctors must constantly update their knowledge and understanding of their specialty in order to deliver excellent patient care.
Professional competence is a formal way of recording your lifelong learning as a doctor and highlighting your dedication to developing key skills and competencies throughout your medical career.
You must be enrolled on a Professional Competence Scheme in order to be actively maintaining Professional Competence in a manner recognised by the Medical Council. When you apply to retain your registration with the Medical Council, you will be required to declare that you are maintaining your professional competence. Failure to make this declaration will place your continuing registration at risk.
In Ireland, you are legally required to enrol on a Professional Competence Scheme if you:
You only need to enrol on one Professional Competence Scheme, even if you have multiple registered specialties.
If you’re not sure what type of registration you hold, you can check this through the Irish Medical Council Search for a Registered Doctor service.
The enrolment fee for a Professional Competence Scheme is €250.
No. In normal circumstances, doctors in training hold Trainee Specialist Registration with the Medical Council, and are therefore exempt from having to enrol on a Professional Competence Scheme.
However a period of extended leave from training, such as out of clinical programme experience (in Ireland), will trigger a change from Trainee Specialist to General Registration with the Medical Council.
If your Medical Council registration changes in this way, you will need to enrol on a Professional Competence Scheme until you return to a clinical SpR post and resume Trainee Specialist Registration.
We are happy to advise you on this.
Yes. If you hold Specialist, General or Supervised registration with the Medical Council, you must maintain your Professional Competence.
Our Guide for Retired Doctors explains how to match your current scope of practice to your Professional Competence requirements.
Many doctors, for various reasons, do not practise medicine for a certain period of time during their career. Leave from practice can have an impact on your ability to meet the legal minimum professional competence requirements and this may then be reflected on your Annual Statement of Participation.
Examples of circumstances that may result in a shortfall in minimum requirements are:
Where possible, you should maintain some level of engagement in maintenance of your professional competence while on leave.
What to do if you are on long-term sick leave or maternity leave
We will record your absence. If your absence has occurred for three months or more during the professional competence year (which runs from 1st May to 30th April), the reported absence will be recorded on your Annual Statement of Participation.
If you are on Sabbatical or Extended Holidays
If you remain on the Medical Council register while on sabbatical or extended holiday, you are expected to continue to meet your professional competence requirements.
The Medical Council does not operate a system where a doctor who may not be practising and therefore unable to meet the professional competence requirements can stay on the register. If absence from practice is going to have an impact on your ability to meet professional competence requirements, you should consider whether or not to remain on the register.
If you do not practice medicine and do not intend to practise medicine for the foreseeable future, the Medical Council advises that you voluntarily withdraw from the register.