The Professional Development Phase for Vets
Acquiring surgical skills is part of the Professional Development Phase for Vets
The Professional Development Phase (PDP) of the RCVS

The Professional Development Phase has been instituted by the RCVS to ensure that all new graduates reach a certain standard of veterinary professional development during their first year after graduation. All graduates who qualified after 2007 must complete the PDP no matter where they qualified, and it is recommended that those returning to practice after a significant break from work also use the PDP system until they are back on stream and have updated their veterinary skills.

The objective of the scheme is to demonstrate that a new graduate is taking their professional development seriously, and while it is mandatory in the sense that RCVS cannot apply sanctions against a graduate who fails to register, it is likely that employers may ask for evidence of participation as a condition of employment. This applies both to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses (technicians).

PDP and Employment
If you are seeking work in either a permanent position or as a locum vet or nurse, you will have a significantly greater chance of finding employment if you have completed the Professional Development Phase than if you have not. An increasing number of veterinary practices are making this a condition of employment for permanent or locum situations.

By participating, a new graduate is demonstrating a will to develop their skills and knowledge after their degree or nursing examinations, and the scheme enables them to more easily identify those areas in which they need more training. They are also able to benchmark their own development against the progress of others in their graduation year. Should you require further mentoring, a postgraduate dean is appointed when you register to guide you during this phase of your professional development.

Your first year as a veterinary surgeon in practice can be particularly stressful, and by participation in the PDP much of this stress is alleviated because you have a mentor to fall back on. Without it, you are on your own, and have no idea whether or not your profession development is satisfactory and keeping up with others in your graduation year. You might always wonder whether you are developing as you should be.

Assessment of Development
If you are an employer, or own or manage a veterinary surgery, the Professional Development Phase will enable you to accurately assess the development and capabilities of a recently graduated vet seeking employment. It will also enable you appraise their development during their first year in employment. If you are a graduate, you should be aware of this, and of the benefits the PDP can offer you in terms of your own development and of securing employment with a good veterinary practice.

There is no action that can be taken if you do not complete the PDP, but you must do so to enroll on the RCVS Modular Certificate. It also seems an obvious scheme in which to participate for your own future. In saying `no action`, it may also be a condition of your employment, and so by applying to join the scheme on graduation you will have demonstrated a will that should impress a future employer. In fact, the RCVS has recommended that the PSP appraisal system be integrated with the practice staff appraisal system.

The PDP Registration Procedure
If you have not already registered after graduation, you should first register for the PDP by emailing to ask for a password. Provide your name, RCVS registration number, contact details, and email address. You will then be given a password and allocated to a postgraduate dean. This applies to any RCVS registered vet or veterinary nurse irrespective of where in the world you have qualified.

You will then be able to follow the schedule and record your progress. Your employer will be urged to help you with this, and add their own assessment of your progress. It will give you and your employer an insight into your strengths and those areas where you need further training or practice. The postgraduate dean allocated to you will also be able to help you proceed through the scheme.

It should take about one year to complete the PDP, some taking less time and some a bit more. It will also be regarded as the first year of your CPD (Continuing Professional Development) which is compulsory for all vets and veterinary nurses.

PDP is designed around the basic competences that the average veterinary surgeon should usually have acquired after a year in practice. The clinical skills and procedures list was developed by the RCVS in consultation with veterinary professionals. The online database should be used to record your own skills, and any comments you or your employer make about your skills and how you need to improve. It is more than just `ticking boxes`.

PDP and Your Future
The Professional Development Phase of a new graduate`s career is extremely important, and could even map out your future career. If you fail to complete the PDP it is unlikely you will progress, but if used properly is a very useful tool to help you assess yourself and know where you require more study or practical training. A good employer should take an interest in your PDP and become actively involved in your development.

You will likely have registered on graduation or qualifying, but if not, then now is the time to do so. If you have moved to the UK to work as a veterinary surgeon or nurse, then you should also register because PDP is required by all new veterinary surgeons and nurses as part of their Continuing Professional Development, irrespective of nationality or where they qualified.

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