How to plan and keep record of your CPD

The RCVS requirements for CPD are the same for all practising veterinary surgeons, whether they work full or part time, in academia, clinical practice or in industry. As a minimum, all veterinary surgeons are expected to do 105 hours over a rolling three-year period, an average of 35 hours per year. Many do considerably more. So, a quick calculation of how much CPD you need to do this year may be in order.

Using the RCVS's online Professional Development Record (PDR), totting up what you need to do is even easier; a bar displayed across the top of the screen turns from red to green to show if you have recorded sufficient CPD over the past three years.

What counts?

CPD relates to professional development and it's not only clinically that veterinary surgeons need to be competent. Activities to improve communication skills or learn more about practice management, for example, may be appropriate, depending on your particular role and career aims. Similarly, training related to lecturing, mentoring or pastoral care might be needed by those teaching students.

Up to 10 hours of ad hoc private study can be recorded. But if such learning is planned in advance and records are kept, such as a detailed learning diary and notes, then more than 10 hours can be counted towards CPD.

"CPD relates to professional development and it's not only clinically that veterinary surgeons need to be competent"

There are no limitations on distance learning, whether that is watching a webinar on a selected topic or undertaking a course that is delivered online. However, documentation and notes about these activities should be kept, and such notes can be stored online using the PDR.

What does not count are activities that form a routine part of your daily role. For example, a lecturer researching new material for a lecture could count the time spent researching that material, but not the time spent giving the lecture. Similarly, a general practitioner should not normally count routine case meetings unless they could show that this had led to learning something new and that the meeting genuinely related to their CPD objectives.

Keeping CPD records online

The new RCVS online Professional Development Record (PDR) can help turn good CPD resolutions into CPD results. Using it you can:

  • Plan your CPD using the ‘development plan’ feature and record your objectives
  • Organise your CPD using the calendar
  • Upload and save course documents, case notes and CPD certificates
  • Make notes about CPD you have undertaken
  • Access this information from any smartphone or computer with an internet connection
  • See immediately when you have recorded enough CPD hours
  • Share any page of your record with a third party by e-mailing a link, for example, as part of an appraisal or Practice Standards inspection

The PDR can be used to replace the CPD Record Card. Visit the CPD section of the RCVS website for more information.

Assess, undertake, evaluate

The model used to plan CPD is a basic cycle of thinking about what you need to learn or improve, finding and undertaking CPD activities to fulfil those needs, and then recording and evaluating the CPD you have undertaken. Practices are also encouraged to build CPD planning into vets' (and VNs') appraisals, as well as evaluating the CPD undertaken and encouraging the new learning to be put into practice.

Keeping it cost effective

Although courses and congresses are popular, they can be expensive and may not always cover what you need to learn. However, listed on the PDR and the RCVS CPD Record Card are 22 suggestions for different types of CPD activities, ranging from in-house training to seeing practice or even mentoring or being mentored.

Many of these activities can be tailored to suit your own individual needs – and may cost less or need less time away from your work than a course does. Take a look at the PDR or the record card for inspiration.

Not practising?

If you're using your veterinary qualification, for example, lecturing or working in a veterinary-related business where you are employed because you are a vet, then you do need to be registered with the RCVS as a practising veterinary surgeon, and you must carry out relevant CPD. It makes no difference whether you're being remunerated for your work or if you're working on a voluntary basis.

"If you take a longer career break or your role changes, you might find the framework provided by the PDP useful to check that your skills are up to date"

However, veterinary surgeons who are not working, for example, those who are on parental leave, raising young children or travelling, can change their registration status to non-practising – which can also save them (or their practice) money. As CPD is calculated over a three-year period, there is flexibility built in. So, if you do little recordable CPD one year, you can compensate by doing more in the next year. Keeping a record of any CPD activities you do while you are not practising can also help you prepare if you plan to return to veterinary work.

Returning to practice, or changing roles

If you take a longer career break or your role changes, you might find the framework provided by the Professional Development Phase (PDP) useful to check that your skills are up to date and see what you may need to refresh.

Although the PDP is intended for new graduates, as it sets out the competences expected after around a year in practice, it could prove useful if your area of work changes or you return to practice after an extended break.

You can follow the PDP in the context of small animal, equine and/or farm animal practice.

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