The RCSI Professional Development & Practice Committee have compiled a number of FAQs about PCS. We have also included some FAQs from the Irish Medical Council (IMC), which you may find useful.

If you have any additional queries please contact us.

Professional competence is a formal way of recording your lifelong learning as a doctor and highlighting your dedication to developing and maintaining key skills and competencies throughout your medical career.

We offer a suite of CPD activities through our Continuous Professional Development Support Scheme (CPD_SS). To view the full range, please visit the CPD section of the RCSI website.

RCSI also approves educational events which take place in Ireland and are organised specifically for the purposes of external CPD. Please visit the online calendar of approved events for details.

The Statement of Participation is a key document in the formal PCS.

The statement summarises what you have recorded on your PCS ePortfolio and will indicate if you have had your portfolio verified and the outcome of this process. It will also indicate if you have reported an absence from practice of three or more months during the professional competence scheme year.

The IMC may ask you for evidence of participation in a PCS and your Annual Statement of Participation is appropriate evidence for this purpose. You can access your statement by logging into your PCS ePortfolio at any time.

You are required to undertake at least one clinical/practice audit annually. Typically, this would be of an aspect of clinical practice, such as outcomes from a procedure, compliance with guidelines or standards or an evaluation of processes. If you do not undertake any clinical work, then your audit should be relevant to your area of professional practice (for example, teaching). It is assumed that the audit would equate to about one hour per month of audit activity, but it may not be evenly spread through the year.

Clinical Audit User Guide PDF | 545 KB

You should provide a summary of your audit as a minimum. When submitting evidence of an audit for the Professional Competence Scheme, in addition to meeting the criteria, the audit must be signed/verified by a consultant supervisor, clinical director or other appropriate clinician other than the registrant.

Alternatively, you could provide a copy of (or link to) a published abstract or paper. Individual patient identifiers should be removed from audits before uploading to the ePortfolio. If your audit spans over two PCS years, you should record your audit in the year you completed most of the work.

The PCS Audit User Guide is available for download below.

RCSI Audit User Guide PDF | 275.1 KB

You can login to your RCSI PCS ePortfolio on your smartphone and save the mobile adapted version of PCS to open enabling you to view your details and upload activities.

Please follow the step-by-step guide below on how to add the PCS icon shortcut to your smartphone.

Using your smartphone to upload your CPD activity PDF | 299 KB


If you are registered on the 'Supervised', 'General' or 'Specialist' division of the IMC Register, you are required to be enrolled on a PCS. You must be enrolled in order to demonstrate you are actively maintaining your professional competence in a manner recognised by the Irish Medical Council.

When you apply to retain your registration with the IMC, you are required to declare the name of your PCS and the date you enrolled, or renewed your enrolment, on that scheme. Failure to make this declaration will place your continuing registration at risk.

To enrol on the PCS you must complete an online enrolment form – please ensure you complete all sections which are indicated as 'mandatory'.

Before you commence the online enrolment please ensure you have the following information to hand:

  • IMC registration number
  • Email address
  • Credit/debit card to pay the enrolment fee

No. If you are participating in the RCSI National Surgical Training Programme or National Emergency Medicine Training Programme, you are not required to enrol on a PCS. If you are planning to join a training programme, you should be enrolled on a PCS until the training programme start date.

Yes. If you hold 'Specialist', 'General' or 'Supervised' registration with the IMC, 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.

Yes. 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 competency 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:

  • Maternity leave
  • Certified sick leave
  • Carer's leave
  • Parental leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Adoptive leave

Where possible, you should maintain some level of engagement in the maintenance of your professional competence while on leave. You should also complete the confirmation of extended absence from work form.

Absence from practice

  • Inform RCSI of the circumstances as soon as possible by completing this form.
  • Keep supporting documentation or information – the IMC may ask to see this if you are selected for its Maintenance of Professional Competence Audit.

RCSI will record your absence. If your absence has occurred for three months or more during the professional competence year (which runs from 1 May to 30 April), the reported absence will be recorded on your Annual Statement of Participation.

If you remain on the IMC Register while on sabbatical or an extended holiday, you are expected to continue to meet your professional competence requirements.

The IMC 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 IMC advises that you voluntarily withdraw from the register.

CPD approval

Events organised in Ireland

Educational events organised specifically for the purposes of CPD may be eligible for CPD approval under the 'External' CPD category. For example, an academic or scientific meeting organised by society. Where such events are aimed at one or more of the specialities for which RCSI is the recognised training body, an application for CPD approval may be submitted.

Events organised outside of Ireland

Approval for an educational event must be sought from the local jurisdiction. Overseas organisers who wish to host an event in Ireland must seek approval from the relevant Irish training body. Irish organisers seeking approval for an event hosted abroad should contact the European Accreditation Council for CPD (EACCME) for information on European approval or relevant local jurisdiction.

Multi-disciplinary events

Where an event is of educational interest to multiple disciplines, all postgraduate medical training bodies (PGMTB) have agreed to mutually recognise and accept the other PGMTB recognition. Therefore where approval has been granted and CPD credits have been awarded by one of the PGMTB, further approval from the other PGMTB is not required. Please note that this only relates to CPD events that are multidisciplinary in nature.

The following activities will NOT be counted as an educational time for the purposes of CPD:

  • General – Registration time, breaks, lunch or dinner, award or prize-giving ceremonies, announcements and so on, are not eligible for CPD approval.
  • Product promotion – Activities organised primarily to promote a product or service or which might be deemed as promotional are not eligible for consideration for CPD approval.
  • Unmoderated poster viewing – Poster viewing sessions may only be approved for CPD if a surgical moderator is present at all times.
  • Speeches – Opening/closing speeches are not eligible for CPD approval.
  • Business committee meetings – AGMs or other business or committee meeting is not eligible for external CPD approval.
  • Other disciplines – Sections of an event aimed specifically at other surgical disciplines (nursing, physiotherapy etc.) are not eligible. 
  • Live surgery events – Events that involve live surgery performed in the teaching of surgical skills to an audience.

A CPD certificate of attendance for an event or activity granted by one Irish postgraduate training body or faculty is accepted by the other training bodies as evidence of a doctor's participation in that activity.

You only need to apply for CPD approval to one training body. RCSI approves educational events which take place in Ireland and are organised specifically for the purposes of external CPD.


The Medical Council requires that records are kept for a period of six years, (current PCS year plus previous five years), to fulfil obligations under the MPA 2007.

The RCSI Professional Competence Scheme, Department of Surgical Affairs, is committed to ensuring it conducts its business in a way that upholds and promotes the privacy rights of individuals. The legislation governing the use of personal data is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Under the principle of Storage Limitation, we are required to hold personal data for no longer than necessary for the purpose by which it was obtained. Ensuring personal data is disposed of when no longer needed, helps to reduce the risk that it will become inaccurate, out of date or irrelevant.

The Medical Council requires that records are kept for a period of six years, (current PCS year plus previous five years), to fulfil obligations under the MPA 2007.

According to these principles, the RCSI Professional Competence Scheme must only collect, use and store the personal data it requires to fulfil the legitimate business purposes that it has identified. The principle of Data Minimisation requires us to identify the minimum amount of personal data needed to properly fulfil the business purpose. We should collect and hold no more than this minimum amount.

Each year RCSI PCS will contact doctors who have records that fall into the date range for deletion. For example, in 2021–2022, all data relating to 2015–2016 will be permanently removed.

If you wish to retain documents/records, we encourage you to login to your ePortfolio and download these documents/records – see the guidelines below.

How to download your PCS documents PDF | 625.8 KB

Medical Council

The Medical Council has confirmed that they will reinstate their PCS Declaration on the Annual Retention Application Form (ARAF).

If you are registered on the General, Supervised or Specialist Divisions of the Medical Council you will be asked to declare the following:

  • If you are enrolled in a Professional Competence Scheme for the 2022–2023 PCS year
  • If you have recorded the annual minimum CPD requirements for the 2020–2021 PCS year (25 CPD credits in any category and completed one clinical/practice audit)

If you have not recorded 25 CPD credits and completed one clinical/practice audit, then it would be appropriate to tick NO to statement 2: 'I have achieved the annual minimum CPD requirements for the Scheme Year 2020 /2021 [YES/NO]'.

You can find more information on the Medical Council ARAF here