The second blog post teaching us a little more about the process of earning CEU’s to maintain our professional registration is just as entertaining as the first and shared today – written by our very own CPD police lady on the SAISI Board – Sonja van Jaarsveld.  Thank you Sonja!

How to spot a fake

Apparently Abraham Lincoln said that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there is a picture with a quote next to it…. sounds like he was a man before his time, well at least according to the internet.

Unfortunately this bit of unreliable cyberspace wisdom is very true when it comes to Continued Professional Development (CPD). The world wide web provides an endless supply of the most amazing and affordable CPD activities that promise an end to all your CPD stress in exchange for a little bit of leisure reading, all in your own time and in the comfort of your own home. Let’s just dim those red lights that went on in the back of our minds, because obviously these courses must be very sophisticated, since they are from all over the world and that must the reason why they are worth so many more “points” than the local expensive stuff (obviously) [sarcastic tone insert].  Let me just get my tongue out of my cheek before I continue to give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, according to the HPCSA.

Counting chickens

First lesson in spotting a fake CPD activity is “count your chickens”.

Rule of thumb is always 1 hour = 1 CEU.

The HPCSA’s CPD guidelines for health care professionals (July 2017) state clearly that CEUs are allocated according to time.

  • In person activities (face-to-face): One CEU per hour to a maximum of eight CEUs per day.
  • Online activities: One CEU per hour to a maximum of six CEUs per day. If the activity is longer than three hours at least one outcome assessment should be completed and passed with a mark of 70% in order to claim the CEUs for attendance. No extra CEUs are awarded for passing the assessment. On a side note, CEUs for completing Multiple Choice Questionnaires are only awarded when part of a formally constituted journal club or an article that is part of a published journal. It can’t be added randomly to any other learning activity for a nice little bonus point or two.
  • A maximum of 30 CEUs may be awarded to any single learning activity that stretches over a period of time e.g. a five-day workshop.

Activities that may be awarded one CEU per hour include:

  • breakfast meetings or presentations;
  • formally arranged hospital or inter-departmental meetings or updates;
  • case study discussions;
  • formally organised special purpose teaching ward rounds (not including routine service ward rounds);
  • formally organised special purpose lectures that are not part of a business meeting;
  • supervision, peer supervision and activities that are specific to certain professions;
  • conferences, symposia, refresher courses, short courses without a measurable outcome, international conferences;
  • journal clubs meeting regularly with a minimum of six meetings per year;
  • morbidity and mortality meetings (one CEU per hour for both presenter and attendee);
  • workshops, lectures, seminars on ethics


Second lesson in spotting a fake is “online is not abroad”.


If you are actively practising in South Africa and are fortunate enough to attend an accredited professional or academic meeting or activity in-the-flesh, abroad, it will be recognised for CPD purposes. An accreditor in South Africa should accredit your appearance on the international stage, if not yet accredited in the country where it was held.

Online surfing can be disappointing

Unfortunately, online surfing is not the same as international jet setting. Online service providers, even if they are internationally based, still need to meet the HPCSA’s guidelines for service providers that state: Service Providers are individuals/institutions/organisations/societies who are required to submit each of their learning activities to an accreditor for review and accreditation prior to presenting the CPD activity. It is the responsibility of the international online service provider, even if they are based overseas, to submit their learning activities for accreditation in South Africa with the HPCSA, not the responsibility of the attendee to submit the certificate for approval after completing the online course. Online international accreditation does not replace or translate automatically into HPCSA accreditation. All online CPD activities, without exception, have to be accredited by the HPCSA before they are presented.

If you live and practise abroad in a country where a continuing professional development system is in place, the HPCSA allows health practitioners to comply with the requirements in that country and requires them to retain documentary proof of attendance at CPD activities in their resident country for submission.


Now for the third lesson – Be careful who you regard as your teacher.

The HPCSA declares that in this spirit of dedication to best practice and a desire to act and serve wisely and well, Guidelines for Service Providers of continuing professional development education activities were developed. CPD providers are encouraged to offer learning activities in line with adult education principles and greater learner involvement, with the goal of not only acquiring new or updating knowledge, but also of improving competence and ultimately the performance of the health professional with an end benefit to the patient/client.

Time is our most precious commodity. Don’t waste it. Yes, you have to spend time on CPD but how you spent that time and from whom you choose to learn and what skills you develop in that time, that is all up to you. E.M Forster warns us that “Spoon feeding, in the long run, teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” Look past the low hanging fruit and choose wisely.

Spoon-feeding helps no-one

The HPCSA requires service providers to substantiate the number of hours and CEUs that they are applying for and provide proof of methods of assessment.

  • Providers have to describe to the satisfaction of the accreditors, the technologies to be employed.
  • The accreditation is provided on the time allocations substantiated by the provider and not in accordance with the time spent by a specific participant – i.e. if according to the provider it will take one hour to complete a questionnaire or module, the participant cannot request additional points for time spent longer than one hour.

The following activities do not qualify for CEUs:

  • time spent in planning, organising or facilitating any activity;
  • published congress proceedings;
  • non-referenced letters to the Editor of accredited journals;
  • daily ward rounds;
  • written assignments;
  • compilation of student training manuals for internal use;
  • staff and/or administrative meetings;
  • tours and/or viewing of exhibits and technological demonstrations;
  • membership of professional bodies, professional boards or associations;
  • holding a portfolio on the professional body’s executive or council structure;
  • presentations and publications to the public
  • meetings purely for the purpose of marketing or promoting products


One last lesson, and here I dare to believe the internet might have gotten it right for once – George Bernard Shaw said: “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”.


If you need any help with spotting the truth in a world wide web full of fakes, feel free to contact the SAISI office at:


Mobile: +27763299403