The ultimate guide to Australian Professional Development Leave

Professional Development Leave (PDL) lets you take time off work to learn and get paid while you’re doing it. Today we’ll be exploring what it is, how to access it, and how to spend your PDL days at the beach.

Sabrine Elkhodr
Sabrine Elkhodr
28th Mar 2023 • 6m read

Let’s be real. Keeping up with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements can be a tough gig. Between work, more work, family commitments, and the odd Insta binge (Hey, you do you!), trying to find a few hours a month to keep up with all the latest happenings in the big wide world of medicine can feel daunting.

But what if you can take time off work to learn, and get paid while you’re at it? Professional Development Leave (PDL) lets you do exactly that! Today we’ll be exploring what it is, how to access it, and how to spend your PDL days at the beach 😉


Earn professional development leave while at the beach

What is professional development leave (PDL) anyway?

The clue is in the name. It allows Australian doctors, like you, to take time off work to pursue further training, education, and professional development opportunities while being paid to do it. Typically, Australian medical professionals working within the public hospital system are eligible to claim an allowance for professional development as an additional benefit to their salary.


Sign me up! How do I access it?

Here’s the clincher—it depends.

The amount and conditions of PDL vary by state and territory, and may also depend on your employer and the area you practice in. If you haven’t done so already, now would be a really good time to check whether you’re entitled to PDL at your current workplace and how to go about claiming it.

To make it easier for you, we’ve collected a few resources below (by state health system) that can give you more info about your PDL entitlements:

New South Wales



Northern Territory 

Western Australia 

South Australia 


Tips for successfully securing your PDL

It seems simple, but securing leave to fulfill your CPD requirements is a nuanced process because your employer wants to make sure that your absence won’t affect the running of their workplace, and also ensure that you’re maximizing your time away from work.

The decision to approve your leave typically rests with your workplace, so here are some tips to make sure it’s a resounding yes:

  • Apply for your PDL early. The more time you give them to plan for your absence, the better.
  • Include all relevant info about the course you’re attending. Employers want to make sure you’re actually learning during your time off and not just chilling out at Bondi Beach (though we’ve got an idea for how you can do both—read on! ).
  • Some employers are more likely to accept your request if the PDL is taken around the same time as your annual leave. Logically, this makes sense—less disruption to the schedule because they’ve planned for you to be off then anyway.

Makes sense. But how should I use my PDL?

So here’s where it gets interesting.

Employees are generally eligible to use a fixed amount of money, per year, on expenses incurred for seminars and workshops attended in-person or virtually.

Now, you could use your PDL to go to a conference in the city somewhere. I would never suggest you turn down an opportunity to collect more free hotel pens! But wouldn’t you rather do it in the comfort of your bunny slippers? In both cases, you can record the CPD points as a valid learning activity, but let’s compare a typical day learning from home versus an in-person event, shall we?


In person

6:30 am: Alarm goes off. You walk bleary-eyed to your espresso machine and curse the day you decided to travel to the city for this event. Mumble that in-person events are sooo 2019.

6:45 am: Drink your coffee. Proceed to spend the next 45 minutes deciding between the plain blue shirt or the white one with the mini-penguins that you really should have donated ages ago.

7:15 am: After heavy deliberation, you settle on the blue. Enjoy the dopamine rush of this incredible accomplishment. Proceed to then spill the last few drops of espresso on the collar and no amount of Vanish can get it out. Penguins it is, then.

7:30 am: Get in the car. Notice your petrol gauge is almost empty.

7:31 am: Try to add a petrol station stop to your Google Maps route. Have a mini-panic attack when your Google Maps decides to freeze.

7:33 am: Call your significant other (SO) and freak out about Google Maps freezing. SO suggests you turn it off and turn it back on again. Google Maps works. Make a mental note not to tell your SO that they were right.

7:55 am: You suddenly remember that there’s no parking close to the event space and you’ll need to walk a good 500 m to get there. Also remember that you wore the wrong shoes to walk 500 m. Brilliant.

8:30 am: Arrive in one piece and let out an exaggerated sigh of relief. Celebrate with an almond mocha latte and avo toast from that cafe that keeps popping up on your Instagram feed.

8:35 am: Accidentally drop the avo toast on yourself. Smear it into the penguins in an attempt to remove it. Your penguins have now turned a disturbing shade of olive green. Wonder what else could possibly go wrong before 9 am.

8:36 am: Start your 500 m sprint to the event space. Accidentally step in something you probably shouldn’t have. Muffle your internal screams. Suddenly recall reading an article that recounted a morning eerily similar to yours* 👀

*Actual events may vary but will probably still suck.

I could tell you how the rest of the day goes but I imagine you get the point. But hey, free pen!

What if it could look like this instead?



8:50 am: Get out of bed and freshen up. Let out a contented sigh as you slip into your bunny slippers and head to the kitchen to make a coffee.

8:58 am: Turn on the laptop and log in to Medmastery.

9:00 am: Sit back and relax into your cozy armchair while you brush up on your atrial fibrillation or trauma management skills.

10:00 am: Feel amazed that you’ve already completed a course before you’ve even finished your first coffee.

10:15 am: Read something on the website about how Medmastery sieves through all the fluff, teaching you the critical 20% of skills that make up 80% of your workload. You nod along when it tells you they specialize in making complex medical topics simple and quick to digest—you definitely believe it. Enjoy the aha! moment when you realize why the past hour of learning felt like an absolute breeze compared to all the other dense and rambling courses you’ve taken.

10:16 am: Flick through Medmastery’s course library with a gleam in your eye, wondering where it’s been all of your professional life, settle on three more courses you plan to get through today and marvel at how ridiculously easy it’s all been.

10:18 am: Decide to go to the beach to get through the courses after a latte and another quick swim.

11:30 am: Towel off and find a nice shady tree to lie under with a view of the ocean. Watch the remaining courses on your phone—latte in one hand, fish and chips in the other.

2:50 pm: Head in for another quick dip before finishing your final course for the day.

4:00 pm: Take out your earbuds and congratulate yourself for a productive day of learning. Take in the ocean views and relax into the moment before heading back home.

4:15 pm: Enjoy the rest of the afternoon off. Randomly remember the survey Medmastery did which showed that 22% of their subscribers have saved at least one life with a skill they learned directly from Medmastery. Wonder if you will be one of them.


These two stories are obviously completely fictional (not saying I have a white shirt with mini-penguins but I’m also not not saying that…). But if you’re trying to decide how to best make use of your PDL in a way that maximizes your learning opportunity without forcing you into a potentially boring, day-long seminar, then Medmastery is the way to go.

Buy a subscription, plan out your courses in advance, let your supervisor know your learning plan, and eagerly await your day of mega-learning on the beach (or your couch).