#thefutureofmeded: Continuing professional development (Part 1)

By Daniel Cabrera (@CabreraERDR) and Felix Ankel (@felixankel

You are a new continuing professional development (CPD) dean hired to guide a recently merged medical school and health system into the future.  You use a foresight model and identify several hard trends.

  1. Mastering new knowledge has lost its foundational primacy for CPD.  Learners are yearning for meaning and belonging in a professional development environment that has evolved from information transmission to skill and behavior change.
  2. Professional identity is more fluid. Clinicians see themselves through more than one lens and are looking to learning opportunities that are less binary.
  3. Traditional hierarchical institutions are finding themselves challenged with historical structural limitations to innovate and respond to a rapidly changing environment.

How do you prepare your team for the future? How do you adapt to hard trends?

The future of continuous professional development (CPD) for health professions will be part of a large wave of change affecting the way we learn, achieve competence, obtain credentials and perform clinically. The forces affecting health professional educational (HPE) are amplified and accelerated in CPD given the exposure to rapidly changing clinical practices and markets.

A first trend is movement from role-specific education to interprofessional education. In the short-term future, the entire continuum of HPE will be collaborative, including competency evaluation and performance reviews. There will be more emphasis on collective competence to augment individual competence.

A second trend is the creation of transdisciplinary learning and practice.  For example, a member of a team can be trained and expected to practice in a broad variety of roles depending on the needs of the situation (e.g.  a RN functioning as an MD, or an MD functioning as a Perfusionist ). It is likely that in a future where  knowledge is symmetric and completely accessible; the current professional roles will become less clear and professional identity will become less relevant.

The third trend is an evolution of the CPD curriculum from a top down approach, focused on “of learning” assessments from institutions and authorities, to a truly networked societal and community driven one focused on ”for learning” . All stakeholders will have a role in the creation and governance of the curriculum including patients, caregivers, learners, teachers, administrators, academic institutions, government agencies and health systems.  This network-created curriculum will originate in a needs assessment that is continuous, data-driven, and dynamic. Background bots will analyze performance outcomes and will create real-time adjustments to the curriculum to address gaps and integrate new advances.

The fourth trend is a an increased focus to micro-skills learning and assessment. If professional roles become less clear, the focus of CPD will be around competence and skills. It is likely that this will assess on a discrete level instead of a large role, e.g., the ability to diagnose certain disease or run an ECMO pump, instead of being a Neurologist or a Perfusionist.

All these changes will lead to a different way to understand the realm intersecting CPD and clinical practice. The new trans-professional roles, the advent of micro targeted skills and credentialing, the network governance of the curriculum and assessment, and the analytic nature of performance and learning will create new organizations. These organizations will resemble Distributed Autonomous Organizations of Education (DOAE).

The future of CPD can be summarized as created for all by all, informed and augmented by AI, originating from real outcomes needs and sustained by a new type of organization.



Sklar DP and GT McMahon. 2019. Trust Between Teachers and LearnersJAMA. 321(22):2157–2158.

McMahon GT and SE Skochelak. 2018. Evolution of Continuing Medical Education: Promoting Innovation Through Regulatory AlignmentJAMA. 319(6):545–546.

Lingard, L. 2016. Paradoxical Truths and Persistent Myths: Reframing the Team Competence Conversation. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 36(Suppl 1):S19-21.

Ankel, F and D Pesut. (2019, June 4). #futureofmeded: Developing Foresight Competencies. [ICE Blog]. Retrieved from: https://icenet.blog/2019/06/04/futureofmeded-developing-foresight-competencies/

Ankel, F and D Pesut. (2019, September 10). #futureofmeded:  Moving from Knowledge of Wisdom. [ICE Blog]. Retrieved from: https://icenet.blog/2019/09/10/futureofmeded-moving-from-knowledge-to-wisdom/

Ankel, F and K Nelson. (2019, October 22). #futureofmeded: The Future of Professional Identity. [ICE Blog]. Retrieved from:  https://icenet.blog/2019/10/22/futureofmeded-the-future-of-professional-identity/


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