Continuous Professional Development – A Lifelong Commitment To Learning

Continuous Professional Development – A Lifelong Commitment To LearningContinuous Professional Development (CPD) is an on-going requirement for all vet surgeons and nurses registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Whether you’re working in the UK or abroad, whether you’re working full-time or part-time, if you’re registered, fulfilling CPD requirements is not an option – it is essential. Failure to complete the requirements and to be able to evidence your work can result in a finding of professional misconduct – not something a professional wants on their record!

The RCVS CPD Requirement:

The RCVS stipulates vet surgeons must complete a minimum of 105 hours in any three-year period, with an average of 35 hours per year. Vet nurses must complete a minimum of 45 hours in any three-year period, with an average of 15 hours per year.

It’s not a box-ticking exercise

CPD is not meant to be a box-ticking exercise; it’s there to ensure professionals keep pace with the latest developments in procedures and treatments. Veterinary medicine is constantly evolving, so embracing CPD aids your personal development. It’s also about using reflection as a learning tool. Taking the time in a structured manner, to consider an event or a case, identify what happened, how it made you feel, and how you reacted to it, gives you the opportunity to learn from that case and take that knowledge with you into the next. Arguably then, the basic requirements for CPD are just that, the basic requirement. The more you put into the on-going learning process, the better equipped you will be to perform your role. For Locums, this is particularly important, as there is far more chance of being in a new situation, faced with a challenge as yet unseen. Enthusiastic fulfilment of CPD requirements will make you infinitely more hireable.

Making the most of it

Making the most of your CPD involves making a plan as to how you will fulfil the RCVS CPD requirements. The RCVS website has a range of tools to aid you with this, from downloadable PDFs for keeping a basic record to an online Professional Development Record, a secure online recording system which allows you to save associated files, plans, notes and diary events. They also offer a subsidised library membership subscription scheme to help you keep up with the latest papers. Other activities that count towards CPD include attending courses, lectures and seminars, taking part in ‘learning sets’, encouraging practitioners to come together to discuss cases. An ideal learning opportunity is a secondment to another Practice, particularly if they deal with a different section of vet medicine, such as farm animals or providing equine services. Of course, working towards an additional qualification, such as a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice or a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing is an ideal way of fulfilling CPD requirements.

CPD also should provide you with the opportunity to develop your own soft skills, such as coping with different situations, engaging with different types of animal owners. For example, Small Animal Practices will concentrate on pets, and their owners will have a completely different outlook and range of priorities than a farmer would have.

It’s an ongoing learning process

Successful CPD does require a commitment to the on-going learning process, and furthermore, it has to be done in a structured, recordable manner. While it may take a while to get organised, it’s better to put additional effort into setting the process up so that the actual fulfilment of that plan becomes easier over time. CPD is there to help you develop your database of personal knowledge, and the more comprehensive that database is, the better you’ll be able to cope with whatever comes your way. CPD is a way of building your own confidence and ultimately, makes you a better vet/nurse.


CPD record cards for Vet Surgeons and Vet Nurses can be found here, along with the CPD policy:


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