Workforce, training and education
East of England
Professional Development Sessions (PDS)
(Special Interest Sessions)

Throughout Higher Specialist Training in Psychiatry, you will have the opportunity to spend one day per week pro rata undertaking a PDS. 

Royal College of Psychiatry Specialist Trainee Curricula offer clear guidance on the importance of this protected time which is intended to directly contribute to the prospective career pathway of trainees.

“Higher trainees require time separate from clinical duties to enable them to fulfil both the breadth and depth of the curriculum. These sessions provide learning opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them. It is anticipated that the trainee will undertake a range of PDS during their higher training, according to their training and development needs.

Protected PDS consist of two sessions of four hours per week (pro-rata for LTFT trainees) and are separate to weekly teaching programmes for higher trainees, study leave and mandatory training requirements (e.g., risk assessment/fire safety/Mental Health Act/information governance training etc). See section 5.2.3 for specific guidance for CAP trainees.

 A plan for professional development sessions must be created prospectively and agreed with the Educational Supervisor/Training Programme Director as part of a trainees’ personal development plan (PDP). The activities during protected PDS will align with the curriculum, specifically the HLOs and require evidence of achievement such as appropriate WBPAs. For example, protected PDS may be used to achieve the learning objectives in research that might not be available in the trainee’s clinical role and supervisors should encourage all trainees to take up this opportunity for a recommended one session per week for a year. The trainee may use the protected PDS to further develop a relevant clinical interest or address a learning need by gaining clinical experience at a specialist clinic (e.g. adult ADHD, eating disorders, adult ASD, neuropsychiatry including sleep disorders etc) or by obtaining a higher education (e.g. Post Graduate Certification) or leadership and management qualification (e.g. RCPsych Leadership and Management Scheme).”

(excerpt - Silver Guide, Version 2.0, August 2022)


Choosing your PDS 

We work closely with Clinicians from across the regions of NHS trusts to maintain an up-to-date list of excellent opportunities across the East of England. These range across a wide range of clinical specialities. There will also be other opportunities not listed that you can arrange yourself.  If you do find opportunities which others might benefit from in future please ‘pay it forward’ by completing with your supervisor a PDS registration template here.

Hear from two of our Trainees, Dr Jamie Wright and Dr Felix Clay about their Professional Development Sessions experiences:

PDS Approval and Sign off

You should discuss your ideas for your Professional Development Session with your Clinical and Educational Supervisors and get your local TPD to approve the details. You will be expected to get a report from your PDS supervisor for your portfolio so that you can demonstrate your learning at your ARCPs. You may wish to use this form for this purpose, although any clear entry or upload on your Portfolio should be acceptable. Please explore the information below and get in touch with the PDS supervisors via Jo Saunders

To register for new special interest sessions, please complete this form and email it to Jo Saunders: