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Medical Education 2010: 44: 412–420

Objectives  The profession of medicine has long been characterised by virtues such as authorisation, specialisation, autonomy, self-regulation and adherence to an ethical code of practice, and its complexity has granted it the privilege of self-regulation. Studies have shown continuing professional development (CPD) for general practitioners (GPs) to be most effective when it is set up within a multi-method design. This paper reports a research-based evaluation of a 2-year educational CPD project for 21 GPs.

Methods  The project focused on the issue of ‘children in need’ and was delivered through group supervision, teaching days, an e-portfolio, literature, newsletters and a desk checklist. A mixed-methods evaluation design was used.

Results  The GPs demonstrated an overall preference for supervision as an authentic method for self-directed professional development because it facilitated the creation of a common platform for relevant and useful knowledge in the context of general practice. Other methods were perceived as less valuable for GPs’ CPD.

Conclusions  The results suggest that general practitioners need to establish a common platform of shared experiences before engaging in multi-professional CPD. Participation in the supervision allowed the three groups of GPs to develop their professional skills, but left them with a desire for more training in establishing cooperative practices with their partners in care. The professional challenges discussed during the supervision sessions were important elements of the national GP Curriculum, but not all elements of professionalism were covered.