VN Council increases referrals for CPD non-compliance

14 February 2019

At the VN Council’s meeting on Wednesday 6 February, members decided to expedite the referral process for veterinary nurses who have not complied with their continuing professional development (CPD) requirement for three or more years.

Racheal Marshall with Liz Cox at RCVS Day 2018

The decision came following the presentation to VN Council members of the results of last year’s audit of veterinary nurses regarding their compliance with the Code of Professional Conduct’s requirement for VNs to carry out at least 45 hours of CPD over a rolling three-year period.

For the audit, the RCVS requested the CPD records of 1,016 veterinary nurses comprising the following groups:

  • a random selection of around 10% of the profession who declared they were compliant when they renewed their registration;
  • veterinary nurses who declared they were non-compliant upon renewing their registration;
  • veterinary nurses who took part in the previous year’s audit who were not compliant;
  • and, veterinary nurses whose records were requested in the previous year whom did not respond.

Out of the 1,016 whose records were requested, 939 responded and, of these, 672 (72%) were found to be compliant and 267 (28%) were non-compliant. Reasons given by respondents for their failure to comply include maternity leave, family commitments, lack of time or opportunity and illness.

Particularly concerning to members of VN Council was the fact that eight members of the profession had been included in a total of seven of the previous annual audits and, each time, were found to be non-compliant.

As a result members decided that any veterinary nurse who was audited and found to be non-compliant in three consecutive years should have their records sent to the CPD Referral Group, a subcommittee comprising members of RCVS and VN Council who review cases of CPD non-compliance for both vets and VNs.

The CPD Referral Group makes decisions on how to follow-up these cases including, in the most serious instances, referring individuals on to the College's Professional Conduct Department for further investigation.

Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council, commented: “The issue of CPD non-compliance has been discussed at VN Council for a while and I am glad that members decided to take stronger action on those who continually fail to comply with their professional obligations on learning and development.

"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.

“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.

"The key is that CPD should be relevant to you and your role and should keep your skills, knowledge and competences up-to-date to ensure that you are providing the best possible care to your patients and clients.

“We do not want to paint an overly negative picture however, and we do recognise that the majority of veterinary nurses do understand the importance of CPD to their development and comply with the CPD requirement which is why, over the coming year, we will be looking to highlight some best practice examples of veterinary nurses undertaking CPD around work, and their home lives.”

For more information about the CPD requirement for both vets and vet nurses, what activities might count as CPD, how to record your CPD and a series of frequently asked questions about CPD please visit our dedicated page. The full results of last year's VN CPD audit can be found in the papers for VN Council.

Those who need further advice about CPD can also contact our CPD Officer Jenny Soreskog-Turp on

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