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What do I need to do?

The annual CPD hourly targets are 35 hours a year for veterinary surgeons and 15 hours a year for veterinary nurses. 

This supports the need for you to undertake regular and relevant CPD. It also takes your individual circumstances into account, such as parental leave, allowing you to apply to pause your CPD requirements for up to 6 months, without the need to make up the hours when you return to work. This reduces the burden on you on your return to work after a break, and makes it clear what the requirements are for each year.

What counts as CPD is personal to you in your role as a veterinary professional and we don't specify subjects, activities or type of CPD. Anything that is relevant to you can be counted as CPD; it doesn't have to be clinical or formal learning. Work-based learning such as case or practice discussions can be a valuable form of CPD. 

View the FAQs

Vet on a computer

Scenarios – What counts as CPD?

We have developed the scenarios below to help answer your questions.

I really struggle to know how to meet my CPD requirement. My employer won’t pay for it and all I see are adverts for really expensive courses that require time out of the office. How do I make up the needed hours?

It is a common misconception that undertaking CPD requires much outlay of both time and money; this need not be the case. Although formal courses and congresses are very important for learning and development and have their place in the CPD mix, they are by no means the only way in which you can engage in learning and development, particularly if you are on a tight budget.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, the following activities can count as CPD:

  • Shadowing a colleague or being mentored in your own practice or in another practice
  • Participating in organisations such as learning sets and clinical clubs - informal networks of colleagues who learn together, for example, by comparing and discussing case reports
  • In-house training – this could include both clinical and non-clinical training, for example, on mental health awareness
  • Secondments to other practices
  • Critical reading of veterinary journals and other relevant publications
  • Research - including research in preparation for giving lectures/seminars/presentations
  • Reflection accompanied by brief notes –this can include reflection on a case study, an event, lecture/seminar/presentation or from informal discussions

The crucial aspect of CPD is that it be relevant to you and your professional development, that there is a rationale behind why you chose to undertake the CPD and that you reflect on what you have learned and the impact it has had on your practice.

Although I am a veterinary professional, I am now in a practice management position and very little of my time is spent on clinical work. Should the CPD I undertake reflect this fact or do I still have to do clinical learning and development?

The most important aspect of CPD is that it is relevant to you and your current role. We do not mandate that CPD has to be focused on purely clinical matters, recognising that veterinary professionals may be in a wide-range of roles including managerial, academic, working in industry and so on.

So, as a practice manager, it would be perfectly legitimate for you to record CPD in areas such as people or project management, employment law, accountancy and so on because these are likely to be relevant to your position.

I only work part-time and, due to family and personal commitments, I struggle to find the time to get out of practice and attend training courses and other events. Do I have to do the same amount of CPD as my colleagues who work full-time and, if so, how do I go about it in these circumstances?

All practising veterinary surgeons and all registered veterinary nurses must complete the minimum CPD requirement of 35 hours and 15 hours per annum respectively. This is regardless of whether they are working full-time or part-time.

While we appreciate it can seem difficult to incorporate this requirement into an already busy personal and professional life, CPD does constitute a wide range of activities (see above) provided that they are relevant to you and your professional development.

As above, workplace-based activities that constitute clinical governance, such as clinical auditing, meetings to reflect on particularly interesting or difficult cases, and other clinical discussions with peers and colleagues can be considered CPD activities. Other examples of workplace-based learning would include practice-based research, shadowing or mentoring a colleague and in-house training.

Remote and online activities such as webinars, massive open online courses (such as the RCVS Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme) and other online courses also count as CPD and may not necessarily involve much financial outlay.


What counts as CPD?

Linda Prescott-Clements, Director of Education


Read what our CPD Champions have to say about undertaking CPD:

Scenarios – The CPD pause and planned/unplanned leave

I am planning to take parental leave for 12 months following the birth of my child. When do I need to inform the RCVS that I wish to ‘pause’ my continuing professional development (CPD) requirement, what evidence do you require, and can I pause my CPD for the whole 12 months?

With planned absences such as parental leave or a sabbatical we appreciate you telling us in as far advance as is reasonably possible that you would like to pause your CPD for up to 6 months per calendar year. If you took the full 6 months available this would mean that you would only have to fulfil half of the annual CPD requirement for your profession – for veterinary surgeons this would be 17.5 hours and for veterinary nurses, 7.5 hours.

In terms of evidence, our CPD monitoring system is built on trust and so we will take it in good faith that, in asking us to pause your CPD, that you are being honest and truthful with your regulator as is required in the Code of Professional Conduct. However, please bear in mind that, should any concerns be raised about your request for a pause for your CPD requirement or any other related aspect of your professional conduct, evidence may be requested as part of the concerns investigation process.

The maximum amount of time that you can pause your CPD for per calendar year is 6 months and if you are planning to take longer off then it may be a better option for you to move to the Non-Practising Register if you are a veterinary surgeon or take your name off the Register if you are a veterinary nurse. While you are on the Non-Practising Register or off the Register completely you do not have to worry about fulfilling the CPD requirement. Once you return to the Register your CPD requirement will start from your re-registration date.

For all of these queries we recommend that you contact our Education Department on 020 3795 5595 or for bespoke advice on how you can best fulfil your CPD requirement.

My mother recently had an unexpected and debilitating stroke which left her with physical and cognitive disabilities and, as her primary carer, I have had to take an unexpected leave of absence from work. I am concerned that, due to these caring commitments, I will not be able to fulfil my CPD requirement – will I get in trouble for this?

Our new policy recognises that there are extenuating, unfortunate and unforeseen personal circumstances which can disrupt professional life and make it hard to fulfil your requirement for continuing professional development (CPD). While we do ask for requests to pause the CPD requirement be made in advance, we also recognise that, in circumstances such as outlined above, this may not be possible. What we do ask is that you contact us as soon is reasonably possible. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to ‘backdate’ the pause to when you began your caring responsibilities, but we can implement it as soon as we’re informed.

As with planned absences, the maximum pause that can be requested is 6 months per calendar year. However, it is always best that you contact our Education Department on 020 3795 5595 or as they can provide bespoke advice on how best you can organise your CPD and fulfil the requirement in light of these circumstances.

I have had to take long-term sick leave from work due to a serious mental health condition. I am concerned about fulfilling my CPD requirement and am also concerned about disclosing my illness to the RCVS. What should I do?

We would like to reassure all members of the profession that any health disclosures made while requesting a pause for the CPD requirement will be taken in the strictest confidence and not passed on to any other departments in the College without your express consent. In fact, the system is built on trust and so we would not necessarily ask you for a full disclosure of your circumstances but would take it on good faith that you are being honest and truthful about being on long-term sick leave when you are requesting a pause for your CPD.

If you are a veterinary surgeon an alternative step to taking the 6 month CPD pause might be to request to move yourself on to the Non-Practising Register where you would pay a reduced annual renewal fee and would not have to fulfil the CPD requirement. Please bear in mind, however, that you would not be able to undertake any veterinary work while on the Non-Practising Register or you will be in breach of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

While there is no Non-Practising Register for veterinary nurses, if you choose to remove yourself from the Register of Veterinary Nurses for a period of less than 18 months, you will not have to pay the restoration fee upon re-joining the Register.

Frequently Asked Questions

Filter FAQs

Undertaking CPD

  • There are no changes to what constitutes CPD - guidance is provided on our 'What do I need to do?' page under the heading 'What Counts as CPD?'.

    We don't specify the subjects, activities or type of CPD to be undertaken.

    Anything that is relevant to you, as a veterinary professional, can be counted as CPD so it does not have to be clinically related or formal learning. Work-based learning such as case or practice discussions can be a great form of CPD.

  • Yes, you need to keep a record of your CPD and the easiest way to do that is to use the 1CPD app or website to record your CPD.

    Until 2022 you can record your CPD in any format, as long as it clearly shows what type of activities you have undertaken and how many hours of CPD you have done.

    We would also recommend that you keep a learning journal to keep notes of your learning and your reflections. If you use 1CPD all your notes and reflections can be recorded within the system so you do not need to keep any other records.

  • Yes – all veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses listed on the RCVS Register must complete the minimum CPD requirement of 35 hours per year for veterinary surgeons and 15 hours per year for veterinary nurses, regardless of whether they are working full-time or part-time.

    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.

  • If you’re absent from work and feel unable to meet the minimum CPD requirement but need to stay on the Register, you can apply to pause your CPD for up to 6 months.

    You can apply to pause your CPD through the online RCVS CPD recording platform, 1CPD. In the web version, there is a 'Request CPD pause' button and in the app, there is a form to fill in, along with a return to work plan that can then be submitted for review. Applications cannot be made retrospectively, but there are no restrictions on how many times you can apply to pause your CPD. (Please note this facility is available on the 1CPD website but not in the app.)

    If you anticipate any issues meeting requirements and are not eligible to pause your CPD, please contact the Education team by email on or call 020 3795 5595.

  • We recommend that vets and VNs who take time away from work keep up with CPD as long as you remain practising on your respective Register. This is to help you keep your skills, knowledge and experience up-to-date and place them in a stronger position once you return to work.

    In cases of planned or unplanned leave, vets and VNs can apply to pause your CPD requirements for up to 6 months. Once you return to work, your CPD requirements will be calculated on a pro-rata basis against the annual hourly targets. If you need to take a longer break, please contact the Education team by email on or call 020 3795 5595 to discuss.

    Veterinary nurses who are unable to maintain their CPD requirement during an absence from work are encouraged to remove their name from the Register. If you return to register after a period of 6-18 months you will not need to pay a restoration fee.  

  • VNs who return to register after a period of 6-18 months will not need to pay a restoration fee.

  • 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 35 hours per year.

    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.