Professional Competence

From May 2011, all registered medical practitioners are legally obliged to enroll in a professional competence scheme (PCS), in line with the requirements set by the Medical Council. Many doctors already engage in continuous professional development (CPD) and the Irish College of Ophthalmologists has been operating a scheme for several years now, however this new system will formalise the process of career-long learning.

PCS are operated by the postgraduate training bodies in order to facilitate professional practice which is centred on patient safety and quality patient care. The CPD activities which doctors must engage in are straightforward and practice-based.

The ICO has been approved by the Medical Council to administer a PCS in line with the requirements of the Medical Practitioners Act. All registered medical practitioners have a statutory obligation to register for, and participate in, such a scheme run by the Postgraduate Training Body to which they are aligned. Participation in a PCS will help registered doctors to demonstrate that they are fulfilling their new statutory duty and the ICO's scheme facilitates this process for medical and surgical eye specialists.

The College's scheme is open for enrollment to both members and non-members. Enrollment is completed through an online eportal, which enables enrolled individuals to log their CPD activities / CME points prospectively. The College has outsourced the running of the electronic element of the scheme for a trial period of one year, but the administration and governance of the scheme will be retained by the College. The function of the eportal is to assist doctors in recording their points and to generate regular reports as required by the Medical Council.

The College's Professional Competence Committee will review and accredit appropriate educational activities for CME points. The Medical Council requires that the College audit 3-5% of participants annually. This process will involve correlation of the points logged on the eportal with the attendance recorded at the individual meetings, together with confirmation of the other activities logged for the purposes for reaching the annual minimum points requirements. Individual practitioners should maintain their own original documentation in relation to the CPD activites which they have undertaken.

It is important to note that this is not a competence assurance scheme. The College's role is to facilitate doctors in meeting their statutory obligations under the Medical Practitioners Act. The PCS / CPD committee will not have a role in addressing a doctor's failure to meet their statutory requirements. These matters will be addressed by the Medical Council.

The College's Medical Eye Specialists' Committee plans to form an audit committee to facilitate members in meeting their audit requirements under the mandatory professional competence requirements. The committee will suggest 3-5 potential audits that members can participate in, whether hospital or community-based.

The Medical Council has set €275 as the maximum fee the post graduate bodies may charge for participation in a scheme. The Council of the College has agreed that the fee for non –ICO members, or those who have not paid their annual subscription in the current year, will be €275, however a reduced fee of €175 will be charged to those members who have paid their annual subscription. The College will work towards reducing this fee further in subsequent years.

Registered Medical Practitioners must achieve a minimum of 50 points annually to include:

  • 20 External points (maintenance of knowledge & skills) which may include 7 points for  e-learning.
  • 20 Internal points (practice evaluation & development)
       • clinical clubs ;
       • case review ;
       • multi disciplinary meetings ;
       • lectures ;
       • Grand Rounds
  • 5 points directed to personal learning
       • Examining,
       • Writing exam questions;
       • Peer review ;
       • Journals
  • 2 Research or Teaching (desirable)
  • 1 clinical audit annually (mandatory)  1 clinical audit equals 12 hours of activity

You can register your details on the electronic portal

Forum of Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies Frequently Asked Questions Regarding PCS: