The benefits of virtual CPD: can it be more than just clinical knowledge? - Veterinary Practice
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The benefits of virtual CPD: can it be more than just clinical knowledge?

Before you dive in, think about what you need from your CPD; is it going to deliver you the right knowledge and are there additional benefits that will make it more worthwhile?

For many (most) of us, “traditional” CPD is something of a comfort blanket: we turn up, sit through 45 minutes of a clinical talk that is usually heavy on facts and by the end feel that we have passively imbibed learning that enhances our clinical knowledge and by extension patient care and outcomes. Yet, if you asked me to recount what I learnt from such a lecture two weeks later, in most cases I would struggle to remember anything unless I had taken active steps after the presentation to marshal my thoughts, reflect on the presentation and develop some action points.

During these times of virtual CPD, choosing what CPD to do is critically important in ensuring that you achieve positive outcomes that have clear benefits for you and the part you play in the veterinary team, regardless of the area of the veterinary world in which you practise. There is a lot of free, convenient, webinar-based CPD available that can be watched at a time that suits, but is it really delivering the best cost-to-benefit ratio for you? I am a real fan of doing things that deliver multiple benefits so perhaps by asking yourself a few questions about your CPD you can get better outcomes for the same time input.

What then are the other considerations and benefits that CPD can deliver?


It can be really tough to concentrate for 45 to 60 minutes whilst staring at a computer screen, even when the speaker is dynamic and engaging, so there are a few considerations to take into account. Would you gain more from shorter talks of different formats to keep you engaged? Are you more likely to be able to engage, focus and gain benefit if specific time is set aside rather than squeezing an hour of CPD round your busy working day? If you’re more engaged, will it help you remember better and jot down some key points to bring back to the team? It is also important to con­sider the time of day – as tempting as the evening CPD with a glass of wine is, is that the best time for you to learn?

Choice of topics and streams

Would you get more benefit from a multi-stream format that allows you to create your own journey and perhaps be really stimulated by trying some elements that are novel and dif­ferent? Will the variety help keep you curious, give you ideas that are applicable across more than one area, help you reflect and get some concrete actions points outlined? Whilst I like attending courses in areas that I have expertise, with multiple streams it is easier to take some time to address an area where I feel I need to gain more knowledge and skills so I can improve in areas where I am less strong.


Online and in-person CPD come in many shapes and forms, and it is important to think about what would improve your experience. Are there any social or community aspects to the CPD – would an opportunity to discuss cases, get advice or just chat be valuable? Can a virtual meeting be educational and have a creative, community and fun side? Can you find other people to chat with, who have similar interests or challenges such as childcare, being furloughed, work stresses? Are there opportunities to expand your net­work or help you decide on your next career move?

Will there be a live element so that you can ask any key questions there and then, and incorporate the answers into your learning? What sort of practical element will there be? Is the meeting all about knowledge, or can it help deliver you some new skills? Is the CPD all clinical? Are there other topics that will help my management, communication or well-being? Will this CPD have a longer-term impact on my job satisfaction, health and wellness? What about spon­sorship – can I meet and talk to sponsors and exhibitors about products that I am interested in to save me a phone call at another time?


So, whether you are thinking about a one-off webinar, blog, online course or conference, before you dive in think about what you need from that encounter; is it going to deliver you the right CPD and are there some additional benefits that will make time spent more worthwhile?

Kit Sturgess

Kit Sturgess, MA, VetMB, PhD, CertVR, DSAM, CertVC, FRCVS, qualified in 1986 and spends 50 percent of his time in clinics. He combines this with governance, writing and lecturing. Kit is Editor in Chief of Veterinary Evidence, chair of BSAVA Education committee, a trustee of Cats Protection and chair of trustees of the Wildheart Trust.

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