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How to do CPD on a budget

Lauren Valentine - Veterinary nurse

Lauren ValentineSoon after qualifying as an RVN, Lauren (pictured) moved to London, commencing employment with the RVC’s first opinion practice in Camden as their GP Nurse. Since 2013 Lauren has taken two trips abroad volunteering with wildlife, completed her clinical coach training, SQP qualification and has commenced a Diploma in Zoology. Lauren also recently completed ‘Introducing Conservation’ course and has started writing blogs and articles for various organisations.

CPD can be costly. As a veterinary nurse I have often found that it is easier and more economical to book a congress once a year to accommodate the required hours. CPD normally includes added costs such as transport, accommodation and food.

It can also often be seen as a bit of a chore as you go home in the evening to relax, only to remember you have an event at the practice in the next town or realise you still need to book transport and accommodation to an already pricey CPD day.

As being an SQP also requires me to find extra CPD points for the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) register, I was finding it all added up very quickly,

Recently, however, I have found a solution to the cost problem – making my own CPD. I joined the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) last year and shortly after I received an email asking for nurse speakers for the nurse stream at this year’s spring meeting.

Now, I am not a shy person, neither am I an experienced public speaker, but for some reason I felt compelled to offer two titles to present. Weeks later I asked myself if I knew what I was letting myself in for (shortly after I recruited a colleague to join me for moral support).

It was at this point that I realised the benefits were twofold to writing these presentations. Not only was I making my own CPD hours to log, but I also got a discount on the cost of the meeting.  Extra CPD hours and saving money was a win, win in my eyes.

Preparing presentations involves time and effort but not always money. It also includes plenty of research, reading, revision and, potentially, data collection. This all has to be brought together ethically and professionally, aspects of our profession we must stay current with. Presentation writing encourages us to reflect on current practice and to focus our minds on best practice and future improvements. This can all be done at no cost to ourselves so far.

The above got me thinking. What else do I do day to day, weekly or monthly that counts as CPD but is often overlooked as it isn’t in the classroom environment. The majority of the following points don’t even involve leaving the house or spending money.

  • Booking a full weekend of CPD with a combined social aspect gives the learning a fun twist.
  • Blogging
  • Poster presentations
  • Writing articles for websites or journals
  • Preparing learning resources for students (informal lessons in practice)
  • Client education handouts/evenings (assisting with puppy classes)
  • Clinical discussions in the workplace (morbidity and mortality meetings, clinical meetings)
  • Forum contribution
  • Protocol updating (involves reflection of processes and improving standards)

I realise that public speaking may be some people’s idea of a bad dream. However, presenting a short PowerPoint to your colleagues, or students (if you have them) can be a real confidence boost and you can keep it in the bag until you are ready for a bigger audience.

Equally, all the above amasses to hours of CPD that you never knew you had without having to worry about where the funding is coming from.

I always aspired to be the nurse at the front of the lecture hall talking about something I was passionate about. I thought I would need much more experience in practice or needed to be invited to speak, but the reality of it is that we can all learn something from one another and even more importantly is that we want to.

So be your own inspiration and don’t be afraid to provide the CPD you would like to see on offer.  I enjoyed presenting my work so much that I found myself becoming more actively involved in providing CPD, researching, blogging and educating.

I was proud of myself and this only fuelled the fire to do more. All this motivation and inspiration has come with minimal impact on my finances, I was amazed I could achieve so much with such little cash. 

Published on 1 April 2018

Tags: CPD