What standard is a new graduate expected to meet by the end of their PDP?

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.) 

Related FAQs

  • The PDP is a self-assessment system that aims to instil a conscious and conscientious approach to professional learning. It provides a structure for new and recent graduates including overseas graduates (and for others returning to practice after a break), to reflect on their progress in developing their confidence and competence across a number of clinical areas, measured against the general RCVS Professional Development Phase (PDP) Competences.

    The PDP provides a logical link between undergraduate and postgraduate development. The veterinary degree equips graduates with the essential Day One Competences needed for safe practice immediately on graduation, but these are only a starting point. Professional competence needs to be further developed in a structured manner during the first year or so in clinical practice*, until a recently qualified vet can perform confidently as a fully-effective professional in the work place. The PDP is the first step in the recent graduate’s continuing professional development (CPD).

    To complete the PDP, new and recent graduates must keep a brief, accurate and honest record of their clinical cases against a list of clinical skills and procedures, and must reflect on how they are progressing in meeting the PDP Competences. They should use the PDP component of the Professional Development Record to record their progress in achieving the PDP Competences. The CPD component of the Professional Development Record can also be used alongside PDP to record participation in other CPD activities, such as attendance on courses.

    * For the purpose of PDP, ‘clinical practice’ means offering clinical services direct to the public or to other veterinary surgeons. For reference, see definition in the Code of Conduct at paragraph 3.2.

  • All newly qualified graduates and those with less than one year’s clinical experience are required to complete the PDP, regardless of where they qualified in the UK or overseas. Anyone who is returning to work after a career-break is also encouraged to use the system until they feel they have adequately refreshed their skills.

  • The Professional Development Record (PDR) is a lifelong learning record, made up of the Student Experience Log (SEL), Professional Development Phase (PDP) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) components.

    If you have been using the SEL at university, you will need to email pdp@rcvs.org.uk with your details. Once your PDP account is activated you can use the same log in details for the PDR (PDP and CPD) as the SEL.

    If you have not been using the SEL at university, to register for the PDP component, you will first need to register for the PDR. If you follow this link www.rcvs-pdr.org.uk, click on the tab ‘register for PDR’, enter the required details then follow the onscreen instructions.

    Once this is done, you will need to apply to be activated. Please do this by sending an e-mail to pdp@rcvs.org.uk stating:

    • your full name,
    • RCVS reference number,
    • where and when you graduated,
    • an address for correspondence about your PDP,
    • the name and address of your workplace/practice,
    • the name and email address of the person who will be looking after your PDP.

    Once you have been accepted for PDP, you will be allocated to a Postgraduate Dean and your PDP account will be activated by the RCVS. You will receive an email from the system confirming this.

  • 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. 

  • Overseas graduates may be required to complete the PDP depending on how much experience they have in clinical practice before they register with the RCVS.

    • A newly-qualified graduate from an overseas university will need to complete the PDP in exactly the same way as a UK graduate.
    • Those with less than one year’s clinical experience are also required to undertake and complete the PDP.
    • Overseas graduates who register with the RCVS with between one and three year’s clinical experience will be asked to review their experience against the RCVS PDP Competences list and confirm that they have achieved these competences. If they are unable to confirm this, then they will be advised to undertake the PDP in order to ensure that any gaps in their experience are filled.