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Veterinary Graduate Development Programme (VetGDP)

We have introduced changes to the way veterinary graduates are supported during their transition from vet school to their first job. New graduates will no longer enrol onto the Professional Development Phase (PDP) and will instead be part of our new structured programme of support, the Veterinary Graduate Development Programme, or VetGDP.

Vet GDP logo

VetGDP aims to support graduates in the further development of their clinical and professional capabilities, resilience and confidence, to establish a fulfilling career as a veterinary professional.

The programme provides a meaningful and effective period of support for all veterinary graduates in the early years of their career, resulting in them developing into an assured, confident member of the practice team.

Developed after consultation with the UK veterinary professions, VetGDP recognises that while graduates are qualified vets and have demonstrated their achievement of the RCVS Day-One Competencies, a period of structured support in the workplace from a trained adviser will help them develop professionally, reduce anxiety and build lasting confidence.

With a focus on a consistent level of structured support that reflects everyday work and professional development, the programme is primarily driven by graduates themselves, through the identification of cases or tasks they would most like support with or feedback on.

Core to VetGDP are trained VetGDP Advisers, who work on a one-to-one basis with veterinary graduates to provide support in the workplace.

We are asking that practices or other workplaces wishing to employ veterinary graduates have committed to becoming an RCVS Approved Graduate Development Practice, to ensure that graduates receive the developmental support required.

Becoming an approved practice involves having a trained VetGDP Adviser who has completed the training. 

Any qualified vets who have been off the UK-Practising Register for more than five years will also be required to undertake VetGDP.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Find out more about VetGDP

  • We introduced the VetGDP from summer 2021.

    When new veterinary graduates begin their first job they will need to get a commitment from their employer that they are signed up to VetGDP, and that there will be a VetGDP Adviser in the workplace to support them.

    When veterinary graduates join the workplace, the vet who will be their VetGDP Adviser must have completed the online training. 

    *Please note: some non-clinical roles will be exempt from VetGDP. We will provide further information soon.

  • VetGDP will count towards your CPD requirement. We view undertaking and completing the VetGDP as a year’s worth of CPD and it is therefore equivalent to 35 hours of CPD. VetGDP will cover your first twelve months of CPD but if you take a bit more time to complete it, you can add 35 hours to any calendar year or split the hours across years during that time-period.

  • Yes, VetGDP will replace the PDP for new graduate vets from summer 2021. Any vets who are currently on the PDP will continue on that path. VetGDP will apply to any graduate vets employed from summer 2021.

  • The new VetGDP is a completely new programme, and very different from the PDP. Following an evaluation of the PDP with graduates and other stakeholders, it was clear that the PDP was not achieving the levels of support needed by new graduates to help them develop their skills and confidence. Meaningful, holistic support was needed, to reflect the everyday work as a vet in all branches of the profession. 

    There is also an emphasis on building graduates’ confidence and resilience and supporting reflection.

  • No, graduate vets already on the PDP will continue, and it will not be possible to switch.

  • Yes, the VetGDP has been developed over the last two years in response to extensive feedback from the profession and stakeholders, through an evaluation of the PDP and also through the Graduate Outcomes Consultation with the UK veterinary profession. We sought to understand what would be of most benefit to new graduates and in turn, how they can best be supported in-practice. The research found that the profession would like to see a range of ways to support graduates in the workplace involving a balance between professional and clinical skills.

    The need was for a programme to reflect their everyday work and professional development in practice, with a focus on structured, meaningful support. The research also found that there needed to be flexibility to accommodate different veterinary roles and graduates driving the programme with appropriate support within the workplace; this informed the VetGDP Adviser role.

  • The ongoing pandemic restrictions, specifically changes made by the government to veterinary professionals’ key worker status on 13 January, means that there are now added pressures on practice teams. We recognise this and, as such, we have updated the timeframe for completion of the training for VetGDP Advisers.

    While we know that some people will be able to complete the online training quite quickly if circumstances allow, we also know that some people have additional commitments that mean training may take longer to complete.

    Instead of VetGDP Advisers needing to have completed the online training before the new graduate joins the workplace, we now require that the training has been started and is being actively engaged with, and will be completed as soon as circumstances allow.  

    For 2021, we therefore expect that VetGDP Advisers will have completed their training by the end of December 2021. We also expect that graduates will be supported during their first months in practice, while vets are completing the online training.

    The VetGDP is designed to provide meaningful support to graduates in their new role. We appreciate the pressure that Covid-19 has placed on veterinary teams, as well as on veterinary students too. Because the focus of VetGDP is on developing graduates’ professional skills as well as clinical capabilities, we anticipate that they can reach a point where they feel assured and confident in practice allowing them to become an experienced and productive team member as quickly as possible.

    By providing an effective period of support for all veterinary graduates during the early years of their career, VetGDP aims to help qualified veterinary surgeons move beyond ‘day one competencies’ and develop professionally into a confident, capable, independent veterinary professional.

    It is also envisaged that, with a strong support network in the workplace and professional development guidance, the retention of vets in the practice where they complete VetGDP will increase.

  • While we know that there is excellent support available for graduates in many practices, we would encourage practices to be working towards their Practice Standards accreditation or equivalent good practice as a clear commitment to quality.

  • Yes, we will require vets who have been out of practice for 5 years or longer to take part in VetGDP. You will be notified when you apply to return to the Register.

    Please note there will be an opportunity for vets in certain circumstances to apply for an exemption from VetGDP, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis. This will generally be for vets not going into clinical practice but may include other circumstances such as having worked in veterinary practice overseas for the period off the Register. 

  • Yes, you can sign up for the VetGDP. Please ensure that you have a VetGDP Adviser in place to support you. 

  • New members who have less than one year of significant work experience as a veterinary graduate will be expected to enrol in the VetGDP.