The RCVS has announced that over the next few years, it is planning to roll out a new outcomes-based model of continuing professional development (CPD), whereby veterinary nurses will be obliged to reflect upon what they learned and to record their reflections.

A shift towards a more outcomes-based model of CPD for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses has been under discussion for a number of years and one of its main proponents has been the current RCVS Senior Vice-President Professor Stephen May (pictured right), who chaired the CPD Policy Working Party. 

Stephen said: "There has been increasing recognition over a range of different professions that CPD records based on ‘inputs’ alone, for example, measuring the number of hours attending a lecture, do not necessarily prove that any significant learning has taken place or that this learning will be used to improve professional practice. 

"By contrast, research has demonstrated that CPD activities focused on outcomes encourage professionals to reflect on what they have learned, how they will apply their learning and how it will improve their practice, which has a positive impact on professionalism and patient health outcomes. Numerous other professions, including human medicine and dentistry, have moved to this model and the veterinary world has been somewhat ‘behind the curve’ as a result.

"However, as with any significant shift in policy, there has been a recognition that we needed to take the profession with us and not force through change. This is why, in March 2017, we launched a pilot scheme for the outcomes-based model with veterinary and veterinary nurse volunteers, including people who, during the initial consultation stage, had voiced some skepticism towards the concept.

"The overall feedback from volunteers was very positive and supportive towards the changes and I look forward, over the coming years, to talking to the professions at large about the benefits of the approach and how to best engage with the model."

In all, around 120 volunteers took part in the pilot, of whom 70% were veterinary surgeons and 30% veterinary nurses. When the pilot finished in October 2018, volunteers provided feedback as part of the evaluation process. Of the 57% of volunteers (n=70) who responded to the survey: 

  • 77% said they would be willing to use an outcomes-based CPD model in the future; 

  • 41% found it ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to implement outcomes-based CPD while only 11% thought it was either ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’;

  • 61% thought that the outcomes-based model made CPD more meaningful for them and 25% said it encouraged them to undertake a wider range of CPD activities than previously;

  • Other feedback included the need for a better CPD recording system and more information and guidance ahead of any future changes. 

Following the feedback, particularly around the need for a new approach to CPD recording, it was also recommended to Council that a new online CPD recording system should be introduced. This system will integrate the current disparate systems, such as the Student Experience Log (for vet students), Nursing Progress Log (for student VNs) and the Professional Development Phase (for recent vet graduates), making it a ‘one-stop shop’ professional development recording platform.

Richard Burley, RCVS Chief Technology Officer, said: "We will be building a new platform, consolidating all professional development-related capability for all members, into a single, integrated solution, seamlessly accessible via our ‘My Account’ online portal, and forthcoming mobile app. We have assembled a new, dedicated, software development team to drive this work and more details about this system will be published in coming months."

Linda Prescott-Clements, RCVS Director of Education, added:"Following the approval of the CPD proposals by RCVS Council, a phased roll-out of the new model and the accompanying IT system will take place. This includes recruiting a group of volunteers from the profession later this year to get some initial feedback around the guidance resources and online CPD platform, with members of the profession being voluntarily able to sign up to the new model and IT system from January 2020 onwards. 

"Implementation of the new CPD requirement for all members is expected to start in January 2022 but, prior to that, we will be working hard to talk to the profession about why an outcomes-based model is a more effective and meaningful way of undertaking CPD and this will include workshops, webinars and roadshows. Look out for more news on our plans over the coming months."

For more information about the College’s current CPD policy requirement and policy, visit: www.rcvs.org.uk/cpd


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