When I passed my final professional medical and specialist exams in 1986 I vowed never to take another exam, but my resolve has subsequently weakened!
I felt my photography needed more of an aim and my application a bit of a prod, so I signed-up for one of the UK photographic 'awards' in early 2016, a 'Credit' of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. This is awarded by assessment of a portfolio of 10 images, and I entered for the version that uses projected digital images (PDIs): http://www.thepagb.org.uk/awards/apm-awards/
The assessment day was in late November, so I paid my 70 quid fee and set about choosing and refining my images during the year. I was given wonderful encouragement and generous guidance by several members of Cambridge Camera Club, most notably Ann Miles and Ian Wilson.
I quickly learned that there are a lot of variables inherent in putting together and presenting a PDI portfolio (and overall I'd recommend people to go via the physical print route where one has much more control over the image being assessed). There is a press-button snap judging process, which means that the most successful images have to have a lot of impact and anything too subtle is best avoided.
Fortunately I passed, and I can now use the letters CPAGB after my name to add to the medical qualifications, although the award is actually only a minor part of the value of the whole process: I've learned that trying for awards and distinctions is an unparalleled route to improving many aspects of one's own photography.
The plan now is for me to buy a high-quality printer, to learn how to use it, and then to try for the distinctions of the other main UK awarding body, the Royal Photographic Society, via print portfolios.
Here's my successful CPAGB PDI portfolio: