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Program Development Toolbox

All programs are required to develop programs that align with the administrative, educational and ethical standards established by the CFPC and RCPSC. These standards may guide program development and used to complete the application for credit, while other standards will ensure the ongoing accreditation of he program during the designated approval cycle.

Please review the guidelines and resources below to support the development of your program.

How to Identify a Physician Organization

Complete this checklist to see if your organization qualifies as a valid physician organization.

A physician organization is defined by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada as a not-for-profit group of health professionals with a formal governance structure, accountable to and serving, among others, its physician members through:

  • continuing professional development,
  • provision of health care, and/or
  • research

The physician organization is accountable to and serving, among others, its physician members through a governance structure that enables the membership to vote on strategic directions and initiatives of the organization as a whole.

Examples of physician organizations:

  • faculties of medicine
  • hospital departments or divisions
  • medical societies, associations and academies
  • physician research organizations
  • health authorities not linked to government agencies
  • Canadian provincial/territorial medical regulatory authorities (MRAs)

This definition excludes:

  • pharmaceutical companies and their advisory groups;
  • medical and surgical supply companies;
  • medical device companies;
  • communication companies: and,
  • other for-profit organizations and ventures/activities.

Examples of other groups that are not considered physician organizations:

  • disease-oriented patient advocacy organizations
  • government departments or agencies (e.g. Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • medical education or communications (MEC) companies
  • for-profit online educators, publishing companies or simulation companies
  • small groups of physicians working together to develop educational programming

What is a ‘Scientific Planning Committee’ (SPC)?

The SPC consists of the following individuals:

  • A Program Director (or Conference Chair) who is an appointed faculty member or preceptor at NOSM University
  • Co-Program Director (or Conference Chair) – if applicable
  • Members (who must include representatives of target audience/s)

There is no maximum number of members permitted to sit on the SPC.

Further requirements:

  • For Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) MOC accreditation: a specialist physician who is a member of the RCPSC must be represented on the SPC
  • For College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Mainpro+ certification: a family physician who is a member of the CFPC must be represented on the SPC
  • For other health professionals who are part of the target audience: balanced representation must be ensured on the SPC

Other considerations:

The future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC) Report proposed a collective vision for medical education across the continuum of learning.  The report identified 10 priority recommendations toward a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to medical education.

With a focus on continuing education segment on the continuum of learning, the following are recommendations taken from the FMEC report that directly relate to planning committee membership and the planning of CPD and FD activities.

  1. Address Individual and Community Needs (Is the membership of the planning committee reflective of the rural or remote communities this activity intends to reach?):
    • Link social accountability objectives to measurable health care and health human resource outcomes and develop a national strategy to articulate key roles in achieving these outcomes.
    • Provide greater support to medical students and faculty as they work in community advocacy and develop closer relationships with the communities they serve.
    • Support faculty members in role-modeling social accountability by providing leadership in redesigning the medical education curriculum to link more closely with local, regional, national, and international needs.
  2. Build on the Scientific Basis of Medicine (Does this program have the potential for scholarship? Be open to including human and medical scientists, or clinicians involved with research to the planning committee):
    • Involve basic scientists, clinical faculty and medical educators in the collaborative design, development, and implementation of the MD education curriculum
  3. Promote Prevention and Public Health (Does this program integrate of prevention and public health competencies? Perhaps a public health representative would be an asset on the planning committee.):
    • In partnership with a variety of communities, agencies, and health disciplines, enhance MD education curricula to include competencies, skills, and expected outcomes in relation to population health, prevention, promotion, and the social determinants of health.
    • Promote a culture of innovation and scholarship in the teaching of population health (including prevention and public health).
    • Teach learners how to look at individuals in the context of their environments, think about both patient-doctor and population-doctor relationships, and identify patients who are part of “at-risk” populations.
    • Encourage faculty to incorporate epidemiological principles and critical appraisal of evidence into every part of the medical curriculum.
  4. Address the Hidden Curriculum affecting the nature of learning, professional interactions, and clinical practice. (Would it be helpful to include other members of the care team to the planning to share their perspective on ways of optimizing the learning outcomes – i.e. a team-based approach to learning that reflects the clinical practice environment?)
    • Create culturally safe ways for students and faculty to make the hidden curriculum explicit and relevant to the formal curriculum.
    • Engage students and faculty from different schools (disciplines/health professions) in discussing the challenges of the hidden curriculum and in sharing ways to address it constructively.
    • Expose students and faculty to the effects of the hidden curriculum on learners by using data and research.
  5. Diversify Learning Contexts (Does this activity target physicians or health professionals in remote community hospitals? Teaching hospitals? Does it address outcomes related to diverse geographic, socioeconomic, or cultural settings? Consider inviting physicians or health professionals working in those diverse environments to the planning committee):
    • Develop specific objectives for learning in community contexts
  6. Value Generalism (Does this activity focus on one area of medicine, or would the perspective of generalists who incorporate a more holistic approach to patient care be of value – perhaps a generalist or family physician could provide that perspective on your planning committee – even if they are not part of the target audience)
    • Identify and address elements of the hidden curriculum that devalue generalism and family medicine.
  7. Advance Inter- and Intra-Professional Practice (Skills related to effective collaborative care must be integrated across disciplines and throughout the spectrum of health education – should your planning committee include members of the collaborative care team?):
    • Acknowledge and address the traditional power relationships and hierarchies that undermine the implementation of effective inter- and intra-professional education and practice.
    • Collect and share exemplary practices in inter- and intra-professional education.
    • Teach and assess team-based and collaborative competencies in all learning environments.
  8. Foster Medical Leadership (If this activity addresses competencies related to leadership, perspectives of those in leadership and of those working with them may be of value on the committee):
    • Develop and teach a set of core values and competencies relating to collaborative leadership skills that are relevant to learners and teachers alike.

Responsibilities of the planning committee:

  1. SPC Organization and Representation
    • determine target audience/s for program
    • membership includes representatives of the target audience/s
    • review/assign roles and responsibilities
    • decide format and frequency of SPC meetings
    • establish planning cycle timelines
  2. Learning Needs and Outcomes
    • It is the responsibility of the SPC to follow CPD educational practices as identified by the Royal College and the CFPC.
      The application document will walk planning committees through the program development process which is a useful tool for developing an accredited CPD program. CanMEDS roles should be considered throughout the planning cycle.

      • conduct learning needs assessment
      • identify perceived and unperceived needs of target audience
      • develop overall program learning objectives
      • program learning objectives, learning needs and formats communicated to speakers
      • each educational session incorporates a minimum of 25% interactivity
  3. Compliance with Ethical Standards
    • Ensure compliance with conflict of interest disclosure and mitigation requirements outlined in the Royal College and CFPC’s National Standard for Support of Accredited CPD Activities.
      • the program content covers multiple points of view and is based on scientific evidence
      • the program is free from sponsor influence
      • review and retain disclosure forms completed by SPC members, speakers, moderators, facilitators, authors, and etc.
      • if conflict of interest is disclosed, mitigation process is followed and learners are informed at the program/conference start
      • instruct speakers to include disclosure slide in their presentation
  4. Program Evaluation
    • review evaluation results and learning outcomes
    • recommend changes for next iteration of program

Conflict of Interest (COI)

All members of the SPC must annually submit a completed disclosure form to the Program/Conference Chair (for review by the SPC), where they disclose all involvement with any for-profit, not-for-profit, and public sector organizations over the past 2 years. SPC members must avoid promoting any service or product for personal gain. They must also avoid influence or interference that could undermine their professional integrity resulting from these relationships.

The SPC must also have a process in place to mitigate any conflict of interest that is disclosed. The Program Director/Conference Chair is responsible for ensuring that disclosures are collected from speakers, moderators, facilitators, SPC members, and authors; and a process is in place for them to be reviewed before the start of the program or conference.

The SPC must disclose any conflicts to learners verbally at the program or conference opening. Disclosures should be made in the course website, syllabus or handouts, and must be included as the second slide in the speakers’ presentations. If there are no handouts or slides, a summary of declared relationships should be distributed to participants.

Where a faculty member for a CPD activity requires disclosure, state:

  • The full name of the individual/s
  • The role of the individual/s
  • The name of the organization with which the individual/s has the relationship
  • The nature of the relationship between the individual/s and the organization

Where a faculty member has nothing to disclose, state:

  • The full name of the individual/s
  • The phrase: “has no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this program.”

All scientific planning committee (SPC) members, speakers, moderators and authors must complete a COI Declaration form. SPC member COIs must be included with your application.

At the beginning of each presentation, disclosure of any affiliations that may cause the perception of bias in the presentation must be disclosed.  The SPC and the presenter are responsible for including these slides at the beginning of the presentation.

As part of it’s COI and bias mitigation strategy, a planning committee should review presentations prior to the activity date. Below is a checklist to guide planning committees with Independent Content Validation.

Needs Assessment

Accredited CPD programs and conferences must be planned to address the educational needs of the intended target audience/s, whether that be practicing health care providers, faculty, trainees, or students. A comprehensive needs assessment must be conducted that identifies both perceived and unperceived learning needs. A learning need is defined as the gap between a learner’s current knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes and their competency relative to current evidence or clinical practice standards. Learning needs can be perceived (‘I know what I need to know’), and unperceived (‘I don’t know what I don’t know’). SPCs are strongly encouraged to use multiple sources of information to inform the needs assessment.

Please visit the CEPD Needs Assessment Portal to access useful resources.

The SPC is responsible to review all needs assessment resources and use them to:

  • identify the knowledge/skill gaps
  • set topics and goals for the program
  • determine the CanMEDs and CanMEDs-FM roles that will be addressed by the program
  • establish program AND session specific learning objectives (and what CanMEDs roles align with each)
  • determine the best speaker to meet the learning objectives
  • determine the best approach/method to deliver the education

Learning Objectives

The overall program/conference learning objectives must be determined by the SPC before selecting the speakers and determining the content and format for individual sessions. Program learning objectives are brief statements that articulate what participants will be expected to do differently after having completed the program or conference. The objectives must be developed without sponsor influence. They are useful in helping participants to choose the appropriate programs for their learning needs. The program objectives are also helpful for speakers as they will help them to clarify the content they will include in their session, and to establish a framework for evaluating effectiveness and outcomes. Each speaker should have specific learning objectives for their session that are in alignment with the overall program learning objectives.

Please review the NOSM CEPD Tip Sheet for Writing Learning Objectives for guidance with writing your learning objectives.

Note that learning objectives are NOT what you will be doing during the educational activity.

Learning objectives ARE:

  • Learner-centered (not what the speaker will do)
  • Aligned with one or more CanMEDs roles
  • Actionable (what skill/knowledge will the learner be able to apply?) Try to get away from more passive ‘identify/discuss/describe’ types of objectives and have the objectives reflect the skill, or applicable knowledge that the SPC would like participants to be able to apply in practice, to ideally affect patient outcomes.
  • Measurable (how might the learner know it was successfully learned?)
  • Are recommended to be written in a logical order that outlines
    • Knowledge gained> Comprehension of the knowledge> Application of the knowledge or Analysis or Synthesis> Evaluation

Other resources: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Verbs

Content Development

The Scientific Planning Committee should guide the development of content through:

The selection of topics, speakers, and educational materials are entirely the responsibility of the SPC. All speakers must be identified by the SPC and invited by the Program Director or Conference Chair or designates. It is the responsibility of the SPC to ensure programs are balanced. The content and materials provided by speakers should provide (where applicable) a balanced view across all relevant options related to the content area. Content must be based on scientific evidence and free of sponsor influence. Description of therapeutic options must utilize generic names and not reflect exclusivity and product branding. In those circumstances where there is only one product or drug, a fair assessment must be presented to learners.

The SPC must also ensure that speakers utilize innovative and interactive learning methods. The learning delivery/format is to be in alignment with the learning needs and program objectives. The RCPSC and CFPC accreditation requires a minimum of 25% of the total education time of each session to be allocated for interactive learning.

Tools for Interactivity (In-Person)
Tools for Interactivity (Virtual Platforms)

For all CPD related to Medical Cannabis, please note the following:

  • The COI declarations and presentations from presenters on this topic will likely be requested by the medical reviewers given the current status of regulation and risk associated with claims beyond the parameters outlined in the current Clinical Practice Guidelines as published in the Canadian Family P, Vol 64, February 2018.
  • Please use this SPC Guide for the Development of Eligible Medical Cannabis Presentations, developed by the CEPD Medical Reviewers, to assist scientific planning committees and speakers with the development of medical cannabis presentations that are eligible for Accreditation/certification.

Speaker Communication

The form of communication (letter or email) used to solicit speakers must be uploaded with your application. Speaker communications must include session learning objectives, COI disclosure requirements, CFPC Quality Criteria.


It is the responsibility of the SPC to maintain a budget for the duration of the program. The budget template outlining all sources of revenue/sponsorship and expenses must be included in your application.

Sponsorship Management – What you need to know

Ensuring Programs are Free from Influence
Use of Funds: Unrestricted Educational Grants
The CPD provider organization or SPC is responsible to receive any financial and in-kind support for the development of an accredited CPD activity.

The SPC cannot be required to accept advice from a sponsor as a condition of receiving financial and in-kind support. Specific interests of any sponsor must have no direct or indirect influence on any aspect of the development, delivery or evaluation of an accredited CPD activity.

The terms, conditions and purposes by which sponsorship is provided must be documented in a written agreement signed by the CPD provider organization or SPC and the sponsor.

The CPD provider organization or SPC can assume or delegate the payment of travel, lodging, legitimate out of pocket expenses and any honoraria offered to members of the SPC, speakers, moderators, facilitators and/or authors. The CPD provider organization or the SPC must approve what payments are delegated and retain overall accountability for these payments.

Participants (who are not members of the SPC, speakers, moderators, facilitators and/or authors) cannot accept payment or subsidies for their travel, lodging or other out of pocket expenses to participate in an accredited CPD activity. This provision does not preclude participants’ claiming and receiving compensation from residency programs, employers or provincial CPD support funds, even when activities they attend have received support from these sources.

Multiple Sponsor Suggestion
Events should attempt to have sponsorship from multiple sources to avoid the perception of bias toward a particular sponsoring organization. It is ideal to have multiple sponsoring organizations that have competing products or services.

Financial Records and Audits
Financial statements for each program or conference should be available for review and audit. Mechanisms should be established by the SPC to assure compliance with University and national standards. Upon request, SPCs must disclose how financial and in-kind support was used. (Use of the CEPD Budget template assists with developing these records)

When requesting sponsorship for your program, the application will require an ethical review before approval. It is very important to review the documents below, in particular the National Standard on the Support of Accredited CPD, which is a national standard that all CPD must adhere to.

Before you reach out to potential sponsors, you must develop a Sponsorship Prospectus, which will outline the sponsorship options available, and the terms, conditions and benefits associated with each level of sponsorship. The prospectus must allow the sponsor to select their preferred option and sign, confirming their commitment to the terms outlined. This becomes your contract. Many sponsors will require you to sign a contract from their organization before releasing any funds.

Please review this sample Sponsorship Prospectus, and if you have any questions as you develop your own, you are encouraged to consult with the CEPD Office at

Please review:



Your promotion (poster/link to website/email sample) and an agenda for your program must be included in your application. (The agenda is used to determine the appropriate learning hours and credit allocation during the program review.)


Attendees must be provided the opportunity to evaluate both the program learning objectives and the session specific learning objectives. **Note that your evaluation should include the learning objectives with the CanMEDs roles identified by the SPC for each objective.

Please review the CEPD Optimizing Session Evaluations and Optimizing Program Evaluations tips sheets for guidance on optimizing your evaluations!

Attendance and Sign-In

It is the responsibility of the SPC to maintain attendance records of every session. The data collection can occur in a number of formats as shown by the tools in this section of the application, which include:

All participants must be signed in to receive credit. The sign in sheets keep track of your attendees so you know whom to issue certificates.

Certificates of Attendance

All participants in an accredited/certified program should receive a certificate of attendance that includes mandatory information established by the CFPC and RCPSC. Please use the following samples to guide the development of your certificate of attendance.


Additional Resources

National Standard for Support of Accredited CPD Activities

At A Glance Program Accreditation/Certification Requirements

CEPD Office: SPC Guide for the Development of Eligible Medical Cannabis Presentations

CFPC: Mainpro+ Addressing Barriers to Change

CFPC: Mainpro+ Incorporation of Evidence

CFPC: Mainpro+ QuickTips on Conflict of Interest and Transparency

CEPD:  Quick Tips on Writing Learning Objectives

CFPC Quality Criteria Scoring Framework