We know we talk about CPD a lot, because it’s kind of our thing, but today we really need to talk about CPD, following an announcement from the RCVS.

The Royal College has become concerned that many vet nurses are failing to complete their CPD quota – and failing hard. A random audit last year revealed that 267 of 939 nurses had not completed enough CPD in the last three years, and eight of them had not been doing CPD for seven years. This is particularly brazen, because these eight people had been audited for the last seven consecutive years, and have still failed to become compliant despite continual warnings.

Some nurses did give justifiable reasons such as maternity leave, but over half of those who were discovered to be non-compliant gave no reason at all for their failure, which we assume translates to “couldn’t be bothered”. The thought that a quarter of nurses just aren’t bothering to do CPD is a slightly troubling one.

Racheal Marshall, Chair of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, said “It is particularly disappointing that eight members of the profession have, for seven years and despite repeated prompting, decided that they do not want to comply with their Code of Professional Conduct. More generally, it is disheartening that a substantial number and proportion of the profession still aren’t compliant and that this proportion has remained static for the last three years with the same reasons occurring year after year including family commitments and lack of time and opportunity”.

Somewhat understandably, the RCVS is running out of patience with nurses who just don’t seem to get with the programme. Vice-chairman Liz Cox says, “Two or three years non-compliant, maybe. But seven? That sounds like we are saying ‘these are the rules but if you don’t [follow them], we aren’t going to take any action”.

Well, that’s about to change. Up to now, the RCVS has been quite lenient, preferring to work with nurses to help them understand why CPD is important, and how to do it more efficiently, rather than enacting punishment for non-compliance. However, this latest audit does seem to suggest that more than a few nurses are abusing that leniency, and some people are going to need a slightly sharper incentive.

As such, it has now been decided that any nurse who fails to be compliant in three consecutive years will automatically have their records sent to the CPD Referral Group. If it is decided at this point that the failure to be compliant is due to negligence without mitigating circumstances, the nurse in question will be referred to the Preliminary Investigation Committee. They could then be brought to a Disciplinary Committee hearing. This is a serious place to be in, and you could be declared unfit to practise until you become compliant.

So, this isn’t a trivial issue. However, if you are suddenly feeling a little faint as you wonder how to make sure you keep up to date with your CPD, you can take some comfort in the words of Racheal Marshall:

“However, CPD need not be onerous or expensive and can be done from the comfort of your own practice or home, it could, for example, involve reading relevant clinical papers in a veterinary magazine or journal, reflection on your professional practice, in-house training, participation in webinars and research for presentations as well as organised courses, lectures and webinars.”

We couldn’t have said that better ourselves.

For more information about this new development, you can find the RCVS’s report here.

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