Professional Competence

Since May 1st 2011, all doctors who hold Specialist, General or Supervised registration with the Medical Council and practise for more than 30 days a year in Ireland, are legally obliged to enrol in a Professional Competence Scheme (PCS) and meet the requirements set by the Medical Council. This involves engaging in CPD activity, and recording/retaining supporting documentation relating to your CPD activities.

ICO is responsible for operating the scheme for medical and surgical eye specialists.

Learn more by downloading our Guide to PCS (PDF)

The Professional Competence Scheme year runs from May 1 to April 30.

Professional Competence has two key components:

  • (1) Continuing Professional Development (CPD); and,
  • (2) Clinical / Practice Audit.

CPD is measured in hours with each full hour of educational activity = 1 CPD credit. 

PCS requires year-on-year compliance; there is no mechanism to ‘carry forward’ credits or competence from year to year.

1. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Doctors must accumulate 50 CPD credits on an annual basis and one clinical/practice audit per year. The 50 CPD credits must be divided across four CPD learning categories as follows:

  • External (maintenance of knowledge and skills) 20 CPD credits per year minimum
  • Internal (practice evaluation and development) 20 CPD credits per year minimum
  • Personal Learning 5 CPD credits per year minimum
  • Research and Teaching 2 CPD credits per year minimum

2. Clinical / Practice Audit

Clinical / Practice Audit must be completed with a minimum of 12 hrs per annum.

The purpose of clinical/practice audit is to establish if best practice is being adhered to for quality assurance and improvement purposes.

If your Clinical / Practice Audit spans over two PCS years, record it in the year you completed majority of work.

The Medical Council provide useful video resources for Clinical/Practice Audit guidance:

For guidance on Continuing Professional Development and the Clinical / Practice Audit, please consult the ICO Guide to PCS 

The ICO is using the PCS Account developed by the RCSI which aims to support you in meeting the PCS requirements and allow you to easily record your professional competence activity.

Once enrolled, you can view your PCS Account dashboard at any time by logging into PCS on a PC, tablet or mobile device:

Evidence of attendance at educational activities is required and should be uploaded to your PCS Account should they be required for validation audit purposes. You are encouraged to keep your CPD activity records up-to-date.

To enrol on the ICO PCS Scheme please follow this link

  1. Press the 'enrol' tab
  2. Fill in the online application form, giving details of your qualifications, Medical Council number and current post
  3. Pay the fee €250 annually (a reduced fee is payable by ICO members)
  4. Submit online application and await confirmation of enrolment
  5. Record CPD and Audit activity



The ICO has developed Guides and Templates for our members to aid both understanding of the PCS requirements and to reduce the administrative burden of having to create documents to evidence activity. Please refer to these at the start of the PCS year as they may answer any questions you have or help you plan for the year ahead.

ICO Online Journal Club

The introduction of the ICO Online Journal Club is aimed at further supporting members with online learning opportunities. Time spent reading the articles can be recorded for personal learning points for the professional competence scheme.

Members can access these resources by logging in to the ICO membership portal here and visiting the Professional Competence page.


How You Choose Your Learning

As a PCS participant, you have the opportunity to shape your learning. PCS activity should be meaningful to your educational and practice needs.

Learning Outcomes

The ICO encourages you to focus on the learning outcomes of your activities - What did you learn? How has it helped your practice?

While there are minimum PCS requirements to be met, designing your own learning portfolio and choosing with a learning outcome in mind, will help you build skills that can directly improve your own skills and your workplace.

Eight Domains of Good Professional Practice

There are eight principles on which good practice is founded and set out by the Medical Council.

Referring to the eight Domains of Good Professional Practice will aid you in selecting a diverse range of activities, ensuring you have a balanced professional competence portfolio that encourages best practice.

  1. Patient Safety and Quality of Patient Care
  2. Relating to Patients
  3. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  4. Collaboration and Teamwork
  5. Management (including Self-Management)
  6. Scholarship
  7. Professionalism
  8. Clinical Skills
For more information on the eight domains, please visit the Medical Council's webpage on Good Professional Competence.

We also recommend reading the Medical Council guidance on Professional Conduct and Ethics

Annual Statement of Participation

Your Annual Statement of Participation is an important document that has been approved by the Medical Council to show you have a formal record of participation in Professional Competence, as required by the Medical Practitioner's Act. The statement outlines what you have recorded on your PCS Account and will show if you have had your portfolio validated and the result of this process. It will also show if you have reported an absence from practice of three or more months during the PCS year (May to April).

The Medical Council may ask you for evidence of participation in a PCS and you can submit your Annual Statement of Participation as appropriate evidence.

At any time during the PCS year, you can access your statement by logging into your PCS Account.

Annual Planning

You are responsible for developing and implementing your plan for the PCS year, relevant to your roles and responsibilities. Although it’s not compulsory to complete an Annual Plan, the ICO recommends that you do as it can be a useful tool to think about what activities you would like to participate in and to plan dates and leave at the start of the PCS year.

Annual plans are not reviewed or scored – their purpose is to record that you engaged in the activity of planning for the PCS year. Your plan may change during the year, depending on circumstances within your practice, but the ICO advises to create a plan at the beginning of the year so that you can organise the resources you need to participate. There is also an option to complete and upload an Annual Plan Reflection at PCS year end. This is an opportunity to reflect on your overall experience of professional development for the year; highlight what was achieved, what could not be included and what can be learned for the next PCS year.

If you complete and upload an Annual Plan in your PCS Account by 30 September, you can claim 2 credits in the Internal CPD category.

If you complete and upload an Annual Plan Reflection in your PCS Account toward the end of the PCS year and by 30 April at the latest, you can claim 1 credit in the Internal CPD category.

The ICO templates for Annual Plan and Annual Plan Reflection are available to download on the Member’s Portal.  ICO members can login here

ICO PCS Validation Audit

The ICO is required by the Medical Council to carry out an annual validation of activities recorded by doctors participating in a Professional Competence Scheme. Every year a random group of enrolled doctors is selected for validation. The PCS Account record of selected doctors is reviewed to check if they are meeting the minimum requirements of the Scheme. The evidence uploaded to support the activities recorded is also reviewed.

The ICO will contact you if you have been randomly selected and will provide support through the whole process. For more information please consult the ICO Guide to PCS Validation Audit on the Members Portal.

Participation in a validation process is indicated on the Statement of Participation. Please also be aware that the Medical Council will carry out a separate audit of scheme participants every year.

Retired Doctors

There are two categories of retired doctors:

Fully Retired Doctors

If you are no longer seeing patients and not participating in activity that requires registration with the Medical Council, it may be difficult to meet the Professional Competence requirements. If this is the case, you may wish to consider voluntary withdrawal from the Register

Partially Retired Doctors

You occasionally see patients or are engaged in activities that require registration with the Medical Council, e.g. tutoring, teaching, medico-legal work, professional advisor, etc.

From the perspective of patient safety, the responsibility to maintain professional competence applies to all doctors, regardless of their working less than full-time, or on an occasional basis.

Therefore, if you have partially retired you are obliged to fulfill your statutory duty to maintain professional competence and enrol and participate fully in a PCS.

For further information, please visit the Medical Council website. You also may find it useful to contact by phone or email the Medical Council Professional Competence Scheme section.

Consultant CME Fund

The Consultant CME Fund is a scheme open to Consultants employed in the public service. It allows Consultants claim a maximum of €3,000 per year towards courses and conference, reference materials and professional fees.

Further information is available in the HSE Consultant CME Fund guidance document and the application form should be completed in full and returned to the relevant employer for processing.

Prior to applying for CPD approval, please read the Guidelines for Educational Events Approval of CPD Points Process in full.

To apply you will need to complete all sections of the application form and submit a detailed programme of the event.

Please contact at the ICO to request the CPD Recognition Application Form

The HSE provides the Continuing Professional Development - Support Scheme (CPD-SS) for Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs), working in the public health service, who are not on a formal training programme or who are not on the specialist register, to help them pay for attending activities that accrue External CPD points. The scheme only provides for educational/training activities undertaken in any of the Irish Training Bodies.

This is the entry criteria for the scheme:

  • You are not enrolled in an intern training programme or on a postgraduate specialist training programme such as BST or HST
  • You are enrolled on a Professional Competence Scheme applicable to your specialty
  • You have paid your Professional Competence Scheme subscription
  • You hold a current NCHD contract
  • You are working in the public health service
  • You are on the General or Supervised Division of the Register of Medical Practitioners maintained by the Medical Council

Once enrolled on the CPD-SS, NCHDs will be able to access training and educational activities in the External CPD category and the fees for attendance are covered by the HSE via the training body.

The CPD-SS applies only to activities attended/participated in the External CPD category which has a minimum requirement of 20 CPD credits per year. Please consult the PCS Requirements section of this website for information about your requirements for Clinical/Practice Audit and the other CPD categories: Internal, Personal Learning, Research and Training.

To enrol please complete the ICO CPD SS Application Form and return by email to

More information is available on the HSE website Guidance Document on Continuous Professional Development - Support Scheme (CPD-SS) for NCHDs