Continuing Professional Development
Continued professional development (CPD) probably comes as a natural activity for most veterinarians: they read up about their cases, they consult colleagues; they regularly attend meetings with educational opportunities and try their best to stay abreast with the latest developments within their spheres of activity. Staying informed, however, necessitates hard work and dedication and there is no doubt that some professionals are simply not putting in enough effort to keep up with ongoing changes in veterinary science. Regulating CPD is thus an attempt to ensure that all veterinary professionals in South Africa are making a reasonable attempt to keep up with contemporary veterinary science, provide services in line with the latest technology and procedures and thus continuously improving the image of the profession.
After Council completed the initial groundwork, a special subcommittee, the CPD Accreditation Committee, was established to drive the whole system of CPD. The CPD Accreditation Committee was tasked amongst others to refine Council's policy regards CPD, to refine the guidelines and regulations, to accredit applications for accreditation and to set in motion the process of logging CPD points. The CPD Accreditation Committee has also been empowered to appoint veterinary professionals on an ad hoc basis to assist the committee in its endeavours.
2. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is new about CPD? The only facet that should be new to the veterinary fraternity in South Africa is that guidelines regulating CPD have now been promulgated and that the time/effort a veterinarian has to spend on professional development has been specified. It is important to note that continuing education HAS ALWAYS been a requirement albeit without guidelines as to how the profession had to obtain it. CPD was and is part of Rule 4 of Rules Relating to the Practicing of Veterinary Professions in which it is stated that a veterinarian should always render a service based on the latest scientific knowledge.
Why did the South African Veterinary Council propose the promulgation of regulations to regulate professional development? The South African Veterinary Council has, amongst others, been mandated to ensure that the service of veterinarians to the public is and remains of the highest possible standard. Since there is an ongoing increase in knowledge and understanding of just about every facet of veterinary science, one of the best ways to ensure that veterinarians remain au fait with the latest developments in their field of interest or field of speciality is to actively encourage and monitor CPD. Council has promulgated the regulations in full realisation of the fact that the success of the scheme depends to a very large extent on the co-operation and integrity of veterinarians. With the promulgated regulations the South African public sees Council as serious about ensuring optimal quality service.
Are these regulations and guidelines really the best to ensure that all veterinarians regularly and actively engage in CPD? Regulations and guidelines are never cast in stone and since the South African Veterinary Council has only recently initiated this project, it is likely that these regulations and guidelines will be amended in time to suit the requirements of Council and the veterinary profession. Veterinarians are therefore more than welcome to submit proposals to the South African Veterinary Council.
Why is it necessary for veterinarians that render only limited services to also engage in CPD? There is hardly a branch or activity of veterinary science which has remained static over a period of time. Even the argument that "only routine vaccinations are performed" falls flat in view of recent developments in vaccine development, frequency of administration, potential side effects and related complaints lodged with the South African Veterinary Council.
How am I as a veterinarian going to accumulate the required CPD points? There are numerous opportunities to obtain CPD points. Courses and seminars are offered throughout the country on a regular basis. Reading veterinary publications is an easy way to gain CPD points. Attendance of one accredited course may well generate in excess of the stipulated minimum number of points required for a specified period of time. Start logging points immediately and you may well be surprised by what can be achieved.
Are there really ample opportunities to earn CPD points? Numerous activities are listed in the regulations but it should be borne in mind that it is impossible to list all possible CPD-opportunities. Any event that a veterinarian judged as having assisted him/her in the development of his/her professional ability should be presented to Council for consideration and approval.
I have been in private practice for 30 years and have never had a complaint lodged against me. I have also attended courses and congresses regularly. Should it really be necessary for me to obtain CPD points? Yes, absolutely!!! CPD never stops and all veterinarians who are in practice or are involved in prescribing veterinary treatment, certification of animals and consultancy should conform to the required number of CPD points.
I am enrolled for a post-graduate degree/diploma. Do I also have to obtain the required number of CPD points? No, any veterinarian enrolled for a formal educational programme at a tertiary institution accredited with the South African Council on Higher Education (CHE), which will result in a level 6 or higher qualification, is exempted from obtaining CPD points, while enrolled and active in such a programme. The qualification should however augment the chosen field of veterinary work of the applicant. Proof of enrolment is to be submitted to council annually.
I am lecturing to veterinary students. Do I also have to obtain the required number of CPD points? For the purpose of CPD “ practise ” is not only limited to clinical services but includes teaching as well as veterinary related regulatory and compliance functions, consultancy, health and welfare management. Any veterinarian, whether in a clinical-, lecturing-, consultancy-, pharmaceutical industry- or regulatory capacity must obtain CPD points in his/her field of expertise.
What will happen to CPD credits earned up to date? You will not lose the credits as you are entitled to carry them forward as credits for the first cycle, which commenced on 1 April 2006 . Credits earned between 1 January 2004 and 1 April 2006 may be carried forward.
When is the system of obtaining CPD and monitoring of CPD activities to be implemented? The regulations relating to continued professional development for the veterinary profession were published in the Government Gazette on 20 November 2005 and requirements of compliance with the system of CPD as a prerequisite for ongoing registration is effective as from 1 April 2006 .
I have been retired for four years and now wish to return to practice. Must I first get my CPD up to date before starting to practice or can I start my three- year cycle when I start to practice? The cycle will start when you start to practice, which will allow a period of three years to obtain the required CPD-points.
I have been working in a non-clinical field for the last couple of years and now wish to return to practice. Must I first get my CPD up to date before starting to practice or can I start my three- year cycle when I start to practice ? The cycle will start when you start to practice.
I have collected more than the required number of credits in my three- year cycle. Can I carry any of these over to the next three- year cycle ? No. Any credits accumulated during a three-year-cycle cannot be carried over to the next cycle.
Is attending courses and seminars not generally expensive and some of us might not have the means to afford it? Private companies including Government departments are in accordance with labour laws, supposed to ensure that they develop workplace skill plans and use skills levy to develop their employees. We therefore encourage professionals to ensure that their further development and CPD exercise is part of the plans in their respective companies or organizations. The benefits of acquiring information and new techniques for the practice/company/organisation will always be worth more than the cost for attending the courses and seminars.
I have been working as a SAVC registered veterinarian overseas. Are the CPD systems of those countries with mutual registration recognized by the SAVC? Proof of attendance of overseas CPD activities must be submitted as well as full details of the programme. The applicant should have the proceedings available for possible inspection and evaluation.
How do locally registered veterinarians that practice abroad go about being legal in terms of CPD points if they wish to do locums for varying periods of time in South Africa ? All practicing veterinarians must comply with CPD requirements. These veterinarians would have to submit evidence of attendance of appropriate CPD opportunities abroad within a three-year cycle as well as evidence of involvement in or envisaged involvement in local CPD activities.
Are maintenance of CPD points by a SAVC registered veterinarian that practices overseas to be deferred until the veterinarian returns to the country? Yes. The cycle will commence when the veterinarian starts to practice in South Africa . CPD activities attended abroad may be submitted for evaluation provided proof of attendance is submitted as well as full details of the programme. Proceedings of the meetings should be available for possible inspection and evaluation.
Many veterinarians involved in Production Animal Medicine attend farmer’s days and lectures allied to other fields. Will these activities carry less weight than structured events organized by veterinary bodies? No. If the activity/lecture augments the chosen field of work of the veterinarian, he/she needs to submit the programme for evaluation. The proceedings should be available for monitoring. Once approved, one point is allocated for each hour of formal lectures and/or practical demonstrations.
Do I need to be CPD compliant if I am not practising as a veterinarian but retain my registration to prescribe and administer medication for my own animals ?
No-persons who have retired from practice can still purchase scheduled medicines and treat their own animals without having to comply with CPD requirements. (Council decision 24 July 2007)