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Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
What is CPD?
Continuing professional development, or CPD, is the process of continually maintaining, improving and broadening your skills and knowledge, as well as developing personal qualities, which help to ensure you remain professionally competent.
Progressing your professional learning in whichever way is most relevant to you, will help you to develop and improve the professional service you provide.
Who has to do it and why?
All practising veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses listed on the RCVS Register must complete the minimum CPD requirement, regardless of whether they are working full-time or part-time.
The RCVS Codes of Professional Conduct state that all vets and VNs are obliged to maintain and continue to develop their professional knowledge and skills. CPD is therefore mandatory for all vets and VNs and should be seen as the continuous progression of capability and competence.
How much do you need to do?
Vets need to undertake a minimum of 105 hours of CPD in any three-year period with an average of 35 hours per year.
VNs need to complete a minimum of 45 hours of CPD in any three-year period with an average of 15 hours per year.
We appreciate that most vets and VNs will do considerably more than this.
What counts as CPD?
Most vets and VNs engage in a wide range of CPD activities. Broadly speaking, any activities you undertake in order to further your professional competence as part of a planned development programme can be counted towards your CPD. You don’t have to spend all of your hours on face-to-face learning.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, any of the following activities may count towards your CPD:
- Attending organised courses, lectures or seminars
- Shadowing someone or being mentored in your own practice or in another practice
- Participating in ‘learning sets’ - informal networks of colleagues who learn together, for example, by comparing and discussing case reports
- In-house training
- Secondments to other practices
- Critical reading of veterinary journals and other relevant publications - keeping a reading diary/notes
- Research, including research in preparation for giving lectures/seminars/presentations
See below for more detail.
How to record your CPD
You can record CPD online using the Professional Development Record (PDR for vets or PDR for VNs).
We recommend the PDR as the most convenient way of recording learning throughout your career. It enables you to log your CPD activities, plus associated notes, files, plans and diary events, all in one place. 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. The PDR also allows you to see at a glance from your summary record if you have uploaded further files, or entered notes against each activity.
If you prefer to keep paper records, CPD Record Cards are available to download from the 'Related documents' box.
What counts as CPD? (continued)
Workplace activities such as case conferences could also count as CPD activity if you systematically reflect on what you have learnt. Similarly, research and clinical audit activities can be recognised as adding to your professional development if you can account for how they have contributed to your own personal learning.
Private, documented, self-directed learning such as keeping up to date with relevant veterinary journals can be incorporated into your CPD plans and it is good practice to keep your own personal record of such activities, perhaps in the form of a learning diary. You can use the online PDR to keep such notes. When documenting your private study, you should record:
• the subject matter;
• the type of learning you have undertaken to improve your knowledge and/or skills;
• the resulting outcomes of your learning - for instance, a change to the way you undertake a procedure or approach a problem.
There are increasing opportunities to take part in online assessment, and other 'mediated' distance learning involving online tutors and learning groups. There is no restriction on the number of hours of online assessment or mediated distance learning that can count towards your CPD. You should keep notes of all such activities so you can account for what you have learnt.
You may choose to work towards a qualification, such as the European Diploma, modules of the RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, the Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing or other university postgraduate certificates and degrees. Achieving such a qualification will provide ample evidence of engagement in CPD activities.
Use your CPD recordings to make a summarised note of any courses you attend, secondment experience, and time spent putting together your case logs/reports. If you are using the online Professional Development Record, you can enter more information about your studies, including your observations and reflections on what you have learnt; you can upload notes, reading plans or other documents; you can set yourself objectives in the development plan, and keep a note of planned CPD activities or goals in your personal CPD diary and check them off when you’ve achieved them. If you’re using the paper-based Record Card, keep a separate file for your more detailed notes of your learning.
Ultimately, the judgement of what should count as CPD will vary for each individual, and it’s therefore up to you to decide how best to fulfil your own learning needs. It’s your responsibility to keep a record of your learning plans and activities, and to keep documented evidence of participation in courses and other activities.
How can I plan my CPD?
You should review your CPD needs regularly and plan ahead so that you can make the most of development opportunities as they arise. Planning ahead will also enable you to take part in more cost-effective and focused activities, rather than attending seminars or other events ad hoc, and then finding that they perhaps did not meet your needs.
If you take part in an appraisal process at work, this will help you to identify areas you need to concentrate on, and should also provide you with an auditable record of your agreed development plans and activities.
Remember that undertaking CPD is not just about attending courses - it's about continuing your professional learning in whatever way best helps you to maintain your competence and helps you to improve the professional service you provide.
If you are using the online Professional Development Record, you can use the “My Development Plan” section to set your objectives, define your criteria for measuring success, make notes on the actions you propose to take to meet your goals, and describe how you intend to implement your plans.
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.
What other records should I keep?
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.
When do I need to submit my CPD records?
You don’t need to send in your CPD Record Card to us every year. Completed records may need to be submitted with applications for the RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, Diplomas and for Advanced Practitioner and Specialist status, and will be viewed during inspections for approval under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme. We also inspect CPD records for all veterinary staff when it undertakes its statutory visits to the veterinary schools. We may at times undertake random sampling of CPD records in order to monitor CPD participation so you could therefore be invited to submit your CPD record at any time. Records may also be requested from members who are subject to investigation and disciplinary proceedings.
If you are using the online Professional Development Record, we will be able to view the “My CPD Record Summary” page which lists your CPD activities. We may use this in the future to monitor members’ CPD. However, we will not routinely be able to view the more detailed records and plans underlying this summary screen unless you have given permission through the system. You may occasionally be asked to give that permission, either as part of a random sampling exercise, or if you are subject to an investigation and disciplinary proceedings.
Where can I find information about courses and other CPD activities?
We don’t accredit any CPD courses ourselves but there are various sources of information, such as the CPD Events Calendar published in In Practice. The BVA and BVNA organise CPD events, as do universities and many commercial CPD providers.
The RCVS Knowledge Library can help you meet your continuing professional development targets. The Library holds over 30,000 books, reports and conference proceedings, all available for postal loan upon request. In addition, for a small annual membership fee, library members can enjoy access to the Library's range of electronic resources from their own computer. This includes being able to download full-text articles from a wide range of journals and carry out your own literature searches with access to millions of abstracts.
Library membership also provides substantial discounts on services such as photocopies of journal articles, postal loans, literature searches and quarterly updates. Quarterly updates are lists of bibliographic references of recently published articles on a particular subject.
How many credits is this course worth?
You are asked to record your CPD by hours, not by credit points. We don’t allocate credit points to courses as such. We only allocate credit points to the achievement of modules in the Certificate of Advanced Veterinary Practice. Although some CPD courses and activities may accrue ‘points’ values, you are asked to record details of your CPD in terms of hours completed.
I’m a training provider - how do I get a course accredited by the RCVS to count as CPD?
The RCVS does not accredit or otherwise ‘kitemark’ activities designed and marketed by training providers as CPD, as it considers that members should identify and plan their CPD to meet their own individual skills and knowledge developmental needs as practising vets. It is the responsibility of each vet to record the number of hours spent on their CPD activities. CPD providers may find it useful to benchmark their courses against the modules in the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice and make it clear to those who attend whether the course is intended to cover some or all of the learning objectives of the CertAVP modules.
I only work part time – do I have to do the same amount of CPD as someone working full time?
Yes. All veterinary surgeons listed on the RCVS Register as practising members and all registered veterinary nurses must complete the minimum CPD requirement, regardless of whether they are working full-time or part-time. For vets the minimum requirement is 105 hours of CPD over 3 years; for VNs it is 45 hours of CPD over 3 years.
This applies equally to vets approaching retirement who may carry out only a small number of veterinary duties and procedures each year. If you are on the Register as a practising veterinary surgeon, you must fulfil your CPD obligations, regardless of how many hours you work so that you remain up to date.
I’m retired/non-practising/on parental leave – do I need to do any CPD?
If you are a vet listed on the RCVS Register of Members as inactive and non-practising, then you are not expected to comply with the RCVS requirement of 105 hours of CPD over three years. The same applies if you are a VN who has voluntarily removed themselves from the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses. However, if you plan to return to practise at some point in the future, you are strongly advised to keep up-to-date with the profession and your area of practice, as far as possible.
Keeping a record of CPD activities during any period away from practice will help you to plan and prepare for your return to work as a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse. Vets who return to work after a few years out of practice, can if they wish use the PDP section of the online Professional Development Record in order to benchmark and track ‘Year One competences’.
I haven’t been working in practice for a few years – what CPD should I do?
Vets, who’re planning to return to work after a break from veterinary practice, may wish to use the PDP section of the online Professional Development Record in order to benchmark and track ‘Year One competences’. Once you return to practice, you should not undertake any procedures for which you are not competent.
Whether you’re a vet or VN, you may find it useful to undertake a ‘return to practice’ refresher course before you start back at work and/or arrange for some supervision when you start back until you feel confident to work unsupervised.
Veterinary nurses who are returning to the Register after a period of 5 years absence or more will need to undertake a Period of Supervised Practice (PSP) before being able to apply to restore to the Register.
I’m a new veterinary graduate and I’m doing PDP. Do I still have to complete a separate CPD record?
While the PDP covers your minimum CPD requirement if it is undertaken conscientiously as part of your initial development during your first year in practice, you may also be undertaking other forms of CPD during that time (e.g. BVA Congress, SPVS Congress, veterinary-based webinars, formal/informal study), details of which should be included on your CPD record. Recording all CPD, including the PDP, serves as a useful reminder and prompt for skills and career development purposes.
I’m an overseas-practising vet – do I need to do CPD?
Yes. If you are listed on the RCVS Register as a practising member, regardless of whether you are practising overseas or in the UK, you are expected to comply with the minimum CPD requirement of 105 hours over three years.
I am an overseas vet working in the UK – do I need to do CPD?
All vets practising in the UK, whether they graduated overseas or in the UK, must comply with the RCVS requirement of 105 hours of CPD over 3 years.
I am an overseas vet working in the UK – Can I include CPD completed abroad in the last three years?
You may include CPD undertaken abroad, but you should ensure that your description of this, and the hours involved, are clearly recorded in English so that the details of what you have done are transparent to, and understood by, the RCVS and others with an interest in your CPD record, such as prospective and current employers.