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Becoming an RCVS Approved Graduate Development Practice

We are committed to ensuring that VetGDP offers a high quality workplace-based development programme to ensure that all graduates receive a consistent level of support, tailored to their specific capabilities and requirements.

Graduate vet at work

Workforce planning

When you are planning your workplace's graduate recruitment, it is important to note that it is mandatory for veterinary graduates to enrol on the VetGDP, and therefore they will need to be employed in an RCVS Approved Graduate Development Practice (or a practice/workplace that has committed to becoming one) in order to be able to do so.

Gaining approval

In order to become an RCVS Approved Graduate Development Practice, practices must meet the following criteria:

  • At least one VetGDP Adviser who has:
    • Completed the RCVS VetGDP training within the past five years (NB please see note below for additional guidance for 2021).
    • Signed an RCVS declaration, agreeing to provide their graduate(s) with regular support. This should equate to a minimum of one hour per week per graduate, but can be delivered flexibly if requested by the graduate. The VetGDP Adviser must spend sufficient time at the same practice site as the graduate to be accessible to them.
  • The practice must engage positively with feedback on the delivery programme and any quality assurance activity.

We would also encourage the practice to be working towards RCVS-accreditation, if they are not already part of the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme.

Impact of pandemic restrictions

Please note that, under normal circumstances, practices would have gained their RCVS Approved Graduate Development Practice status by the time graduates begin work, this year is different.

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 timeframes around training requirements for VetGDP Advisers during the roll-out of the programme this year.

While we know that some people will be able to complete the online training quite quickly where circumstances allow, we also know that others may now have additional commitments or challenges as a result of the latest lockdown restrictions that mean the training may take them longer to complete.

Consequently, 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 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.

Please remember

Practices that do not begin and engage with the process to become an RCVS-Approved Graduate Development Practice will be unable to recruit veterinary graduates, as they will not be able to support the graduate as they enrol on VetGDP.

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

Filter FAQs

Recruiting new veterinary graduates

  • The VetGDP has not been developed as a result of the pandemic, however there is no doubt that it will provide welcome support to graduates of 2021. Although current final year students have had a very different learning experience to other cohorts all graduates will have demonstrated that they are day one competent through robust university assessment processes. Many graduates in 2021 will have had less EMS and therefore less opportunity to practice and hone their skills, but they will be no less knowledgeable than other graduates. Indeed, it could be argued that the graduates of 2021 may be more experienced in dealing with uncertainty and may have developed their resilience more than previous cohorts, having had to adapt during the pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in some veterinary students having had a different learning experience than was planned. The personalised and responsive nature of VetGDP means that the graduate and their VetGDP Adviser can mutually agree a level of support to reflect their initial confidence and capabilities.

  • We appreciate that life in practice is very busy and this has not been helped by Covid-19. However, in order to ensure that veterinary graduates are well-supported in developing into experienced professionals as quickly as possible, we are appealing to vets to become VetGDP Advisers.

    The training, which will take approximately 20 hours to complete, will be available online from April. Under normal circumstances we would require the training to be completed before the veterinary graduate(s) begin work however, we recognise that the pandemic has resulted in significant additional pressures for some individuals and practices.

    While some vets will be able to complete the online training quickly, others’ professional and personal circumstances may mean that it takes longer.

    This year, therefore, we require the training to be started and engaged with by the time graduates join the practice or workplace, and that it is completed by the end of December 2021.

    Providing support for graduates will help them move beyond day one competencies as effectively as possible in the knowledge that they will receive the level of support that reflects their capabilities.

    Throughout their first year of practice, these capabilities will develop, lessening their need for support. By providing a supportive environment, building confidence and resilience we envisage graduates will be more likely to stay in their role and retention will increase.

    We also anticipate that the VetGDP Adviser role will be highly rewarding, providing an opportunity to motivate and develop the next generation of vets as they establish themselves in their career.

  • If the period of absence of the VetGDP Adviser is known in advance, for example maternity leave, arrangements should be made for a replacement VetGDP Adviser during the period of absence. If the change is sudden or unplanned, for example serious illness or the VetGDP Adviser leaves without notice, you will need to find a replacement and support them to complete the online training as quickly as possible.

    The practice will not be able to take on a new graduate until the VetGDP Adviser has been replaced and trained.

  • Once VetGDP launches in summer 2021, it will be mandatory for veterinary graduates to take part in this scheme as stipulated in the Code of Professional Conduct. Practices who wish to employ graduates will therefore be required to offer this to them.

    While we would strongly encourage practices to arrange for vets to undertake our online training (c.20 hours, available from April) which can lead to the practice becoming an RCVS-Approved Graduate Training Practice, it will be possible for the training to take place once a graduate is employed at the practice.

    Please note that in this instance, we would require the training to be completed, and the declaration to agree to meet the practice requirements for VetGDP within three months of the start date of the graduate(s) employment date.

  • Yes, all new veterinary graduates employed from summer 2021 will be required to take part in VetGDP.

    The aim of VetGDP is to ensure that all graduates, regardless of what type of practice or role they go into, receive the same level of support during their early years in practice.

  • As VetGDP will be mandatory for new graduates from summer 2021, they will be seeking a practice that can support them in this way. They will know that an RCVS-Approved Graduate Development Practice is a supportive employer, committed to providing the VetGDP programme to help their professional development.

    Practices will be receive a certificate to display in the workplace and a digital award to add to their website, social media and other digital channels.