Erstwhile RCVS president Jacqui Molyneux’s comments that practitioners use the 10 hours “undocumented private study” CPD allowance to make up their hours when they are otherwise below their specified 35 hours per year (Veterinary Times, March 30) is neither helpful nor acknowledges the realities of the situation.
For all its strides to become more in touch with the profession at large (rather than remaining the somewhat arcane, even archaic, body of senior academics it once was), the Royal College is still a government-accountable regulator of the profession. As such, it will be under constant pressure from the opaque structures in Whitehall to constantly “improve”, hence the oft quoted maxim that the RCVS must become a “first rate regulator” – as though there would ever be a time regulation of the profession was “good enough” and the screws could not be tightened further in some way.
What the statement seems to assume is that the 35-hour requirement is actually an amount of time established in some way to be the minimum length of time a vet needs to spend in lectures to remain competent, rather than a figure plucked out of the air in a meeting as being 5 days x 7 hours (that is, 5 full days of formal CPD).
That some of this is allowed to be undocumented private study is tacit acknowledgement that the vast majority of practitioners are reading journals and publications and absorbing knowledge from those, but don’t necessarily have a notebook to hand in order to jot down every article read or nugget of information absorbed. It has a maximum so the less scrupulous can’t just claim their whole 35-hour requirement on that basis, but it is a useful allowance to account for the many and varied ways we keep up to date.
In making the accusation, Mrs Molyneux appears to regard people logging these hours as being somewhat disingenuous, and that by allowing them to do so within the framework of an otherwise arbitrary minimum standard, the RCVS is complicit in the deception.
I would prefer to have some trust in my colleagues (who, after all, being members of the Royal College, are deemed and assumed to be worthy of that trust until proven otherwise[1.Those keeping their eyes on professional regulation as a topic will retort that trust in regulation can only be earned, never assumed, but this policy belies the “trust” implicit and necessary in permitting activities and authorities such as certification and the whole Official Veterinary Surgeon status and occupation.]) by allowing and acknowledging an “absorption” of information – providing that member is also a member of a professional library (such as RCVS Knowledge) or a professional association (for example, BVA or BSAVA). I would also specify other criteria, such as at least X hours in lectures or wet-labs, and a detailed list of some journal articles read through the year.