BSAVA and RCVS work together on Professional Development Phase research project

5 June 2017

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) are working together to conduct a research project to evaluate the impact of the Professional Development Phase (PDP) on veterinary graduates.

The College’s PDP is a period of structured self-assessment, reflection and development designed to assist veterinary graduates in the transition from life as a veterinary student to clinical practice. During the PDP (which should normally last no more than three years after the graduate enters clinical practice) the graduates are supported by a Postgraduate Dean and are expected to keep a record of their clinical cases against a list of clinical skills and procedures as well as reflect on how they are progressing in relation to the PDP Competences.

In 2016 BSAVA launched its online PDP Resource Bank, matched to the RCVS competences and created to provide BSAVA graduate members with CPD support as they navigate their way through their first years in practice.

The research project will be conducted across the whole profession and will seek to better understand the positive and negative experiences of veterinary graduates and their employers. The aims are to:
•         gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by new graduates and their employers in the transition to practice;
•         evaluate the impact of the PDP on the development of clinical and non-clinical skills;
•         understand the support needed by employers of new graduates to help them complete the PDP and how both BSAVA and RCVS could provide this;
•         explore how reflection is understood by employers and used by new graduates during the PDP; and
•         understand the impact of reflection as perceived by employers and graduates.

Following a tendering process, the BSAVA and RCVS have now appointed the Work Psychology Group, to undertake the research. The team that will be conducting the research also includes Professor Susan Rhind, from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, and Professor Liz Mossop of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham.

Christine Warman, Director of Education at the RCVS, said: “Since its launch in 2007 the PDP has had some success in helping graduates in the transition into practice life, but we recognise that there is some frustration and uncertainty with the process and that not everyone finds it helpful.

“So we are very pleased to be joining forces with the BSAVA on this project and hope it will help us get a better sense of how both graduates and employers feel about the PDP, where obstacles to learning and development exist, potential gaps in support provision and common areas of confusion, anxiety and concern.”

Sheldon Middleton, BSAVA Honorary Treasurer and Board sponsor of the BSAVA’s PDP Resource, said: “BSAVA recognised the gap in provision of support material for the professional skills element of the PDP and created the PDP Resource Bank to plug this gap for our members.  We worked with the RCVS to match the resources to the structure of the PDP but also recognised that there was a need for support for employers of new graduates as well.  The PDP Resource Bank is growing and has a dedicated editorial board reviewing material for inclusion.  This research project will allow us to tailor our resource further and ensure our members are able to access the support they need.”

The research will be conducted across the whole veterinary profession through focus groups and telephone interviews and will include graduates, employers, vet school representatives, Postgraduate Deans, and BSAVA and British Veterinary Association (BVA) representatives. The results of the research will ultimately be made publicly available across the profession, together with recommendations for the further development of the PDP.

For more information about the PDP, including a video about its benefits, please visit You can find the BSAVA’s PDP Resource Bank at