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Please refer to the document: 'BSAVA/RCVS position statement' in the 'Related documents' box, at the bottom of this page.


The RCVS will allocate each graduate to a Postgraduate Dean when they register to use the PDP system. The Postgraduate Dean will monitor their progress online from time to time, and will be the point of contact for assistance with their PDP. The Postgraduate Dean will also review and sign off the record, once the graduate submits the PDP declaration form. The Postgraduate Dean is not there to advise on personal problems or employment matters, although, if such issues are raised, may refer the graduate on to other sources of support. 


The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct requires new and recent graduates to comply with RCVS PDP and CPD requirements. All practising veterinary surgeons are required to continue their professional development and maintain their competence in the area in which they are working. They must keep records of their development and provide these to the RCVS when required. We consider the PDP to be the most appropriate form of continuing professional development for the initial period of clinical practice.

The Code also requires all veterinary surgeons to ensure that clinical governance forms part of their professional activities.

In order to undertake the PDP effectively, the graduate must engage in a process of reflection, analysis and improvement in their professional practice. This is echoed in the guidance on clinical governance that accompanies the Code of Professional Conduct. This goes on to state that:

“Clinical governance may include:

keeping up to date with continuing professional development (CPD) and new developments relevant to the area of work;

reflecting upon performance, preferably in the form of a learning diary, and making appropriate changes to practice;

reflecting upon any unexpected critical events and learning from the outcome and making appropriate changes to practice;

critically analysing the evidence base for procedures used and making appropriate changes to practice;

reflecting upon communication with other members of the work team and making appropriate changes to practice;

reflecting upon communication with clients and making appropriate changes to practice; and,

assessing professional competence in consultation with more experienced or better qualified colleagues and limiting your practice appropriately.”

All new graduate members of the RCVS and those with less than one year’s experience who are working in clinical practice in the UK should therefore take part in and complete their PDP. Those who are not working in clinical practice in the UK (see definition in footnote on page 3), but who are still on the register as UK practising members (eg those undertaking full-time research), are advised to follow a similar approach where appropriate, and to keep records of their professional development instead in the CPD component of the PDR. UK graduates who are working in clinical practice outside the UK may undertake the PDP if they wish, and if their employer is supportive.

Undertaking the PDP does not affect membership status. Graduates undertaking their PDP are legally qualified to practise as veterinary surgeons as they are full members of RCVS. It is, however, an acknowledgement of their relative inexperience and their need for support from more senior colleagues.

Anyone who has graduated since 2007 must complete their PDP if they want to enrol at a later stage on the RCVS Certificate and some other postgraduate certificate programmes. Having undertaken sufficient appropriate CPD has always been a requirement before entering for RCVS examinations, and completing the PDP helps to confirm that a Certificate candidate has had a broad grounding in clinical practice before they embark on a further qualification. 


View the list of modules.

This is periodically updated, as new modules become available. 


If you are using the online Professional Development Record, there are sections for you to keep a more detailed reflective account of your development activities, as well as a structure for recording your plans. If you wish, you can upload electronic records of attendance, certificates, photos, and other notes.

If you are only using the printed version of the CPD Record Card, you should keep a separate personal file with any certificates of attendance, learning diaries, CPD plans, assessment results, or other documents that serve as evidence of your involvement in CPD. You may find it useful as part of planning your professional development to have a detailed account of your learning experiences for your own reference.


The event will be held on the online platform GoToWebinar.

Once you have successfully registered, further details about the virtual event including the link to join, will be sent to you in October.


The qualification is the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP).


If you’re using the online Professional Development Record, you can enter your CPD activities in any order, and it will guide you to pick the types of activity from a pick list. You can then sort the columns however you wish, by activity type, by date, subject area, location, or hours spent. You can also see at a glance from your summary record if you have uploaded further files, or entered notes against each activity.

If you’re using the printed version of the CPD Record Card, follow the headings on the table to give brief descriptions of the CPD you have undertaken. Under the heading "Where undertaken/Provider name" indicate not only the location, but also the name of the CPD provider or institution involved. For the subject area, it may be helpful to group different activities together under subheadings, e.g. clinical, non-clinical, practice or other management development activities.

Time is considered to be the simplest way to record CPD activities. It’s not always easy to measure the time spent on development activities, but an estimate of time (in whole hours) should be shown in the ‘hours’ column. If you’re working towards an external qualification, or taking part in a nationally accredited distance learning programme that includes interaction with tutors and others, include the name of the qualification towards which you are working, and the name of any courses you attend. Attendance at a whole day conference or course would normally constitute seven claimable hours; an evening meeting would normally count for 1 - 2 hours – but it’s up to you to be able to justify the number of hours you are claiming.


The main indication that the graduate has completed the PDP is whether they are able to perform a range of common clinical procedures, or manage them successfully without supervisionThe common clinical procedures are those listed in the online PDP recording system.

The Postgraduate Dean will look for a broad range of experience across the majority of skill areas, as well as evidence through the notes and or case reports, that the graduate has assessed their performance against the general PDP Competences. This is not black and white and there is no mathematical formula to determine the ‘correct’ number of cases. Ideally, all skills and procedures will have been covered for one or other of the species areas, although this may vary from individual to individual. 

Sometimes, knowledge and experience is transferable from one species area to another, so there may be some cases entered across two or three species areas, even though the graduate is aiming to complete PDP in the context of one species area only. If in doubt, the graduate can email their Postgraduate Dean through the online PDR and ask for guidance. The Postgraduate Dean will review their records and advise on any areas that look ‘light’ compared to the average.

When the graduate believes that they have gained sufficient experience in their area of practice to meet the PDP Competences, they are invited to submit a signed declaration to this effect to the RCVS. A senior colleague or other mentor in the practice is asked to countersign the graduate’s declaration to confirm that there has been a discussion about their performance, and that they have seen the record of procedures as supporting evidence. The colleague or mentor in practice is not asked to assess the graduate’s competence when countersigning the declaration. (In signing their PDP declaration, the graduate should be reminded of the hazards of false certification.) 


Graduates or members returning to work after a career break must be supported and assisted by senior colleagues until they are confident of their own ability to provide a full professional service. The RCVS strongly recommends that employers support their continued development through an appropriate appraisal system, to enable them to complete the PDP.

The PDP is more effective if the new or recent graduate can discuss their performance and development with a senior colleague or more experienced peer who will act as their mentor. The mentor should be familiar with their work, and should be the graduate’s first point of contact if they experience a problem and need to seek advice about their work. It will help if the employer allows the graduate some time each week to update their PDP records and case notes. Keeping a tally of cases should not take long if it is done regularly. Writing up case reports may take a little longer, but encourages more effective reflection on performance. It is also valuable preparation for those who will go on to study for a postgraduate certificate. Keeping reflective notes on cases for the PDP provides the evidence that the graduate is making clinical governance part of their professional activities, as required by the Code of Professional Conduct. Case notes and reports could also be used as part of clinical meetings within the practice as part of clinical governance.

Opportunities to take part in performance appraisal will vary from practice to practice and, in many cases, may be informal. Practices accredited under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme need to ensure that the CPD records of their staff are up to date and this should include the PDP. The PDP can form a central part of appraisal meetings with a more recently qualified employee and will thus serve as evidence that they are undertaking their CPD. If PDP records are used to discuss the outcome of clinical cases and to monitor the new graduate’s progress, this may also help to demonstrate that the practice is monitoring its performance and taking part in clinical governance.

If the practice does not have a formal appraisal system in place, the employer should still make some time available on a regular basis to discuss how the graduate is progressing, so they can have an informed third party’s view of their progress. This need not take long, but it would help to arrange this in advance, so the graduate knows what to expect and can be prepared with any questions and concerns they might want to raise. 

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