GP recognition, CPD and well-being

01 February 2013, at 12:00am

CHRIS WHIPP presents the results of a survey looking at the recognition currently afforded to GP vets, their sense of well-being and their approach to CPD – and identifies a number of issues

A LITTLE over two years ago a “Community of Practice” was formed for GP vets and others interested in Best Evidence Veterinary Medical Education (BEVME) as the final part of a doctoral research project into what is working and what is not within veterinary postgraduate education.

The work has clearly shown a great deal of good being done in the field but also a need to modernise and move on if we are to thrive in the coming decades.

The final piece of work was a survey looking at the recognition currently afforded to GP vets, their sense of well-being and their approaches to CPD. The questions are shown in Table 1.

Whilst there are complex causal loops between these three subjects, this survey was intended simply to take a snapshot in time of opinion, identify challenges and identify opportunities for action.

One hundred and fifty-six members of the BEVME community contributed to the survey and results were partially triangulated by 35 respondents from SPVS, MRVCS, Yahoo and Linked-In groups. Results from BEVME participants are shown in bold and non-BEVME results are shown in brackets.


Fifty-eight (68)% of participants felt that their unique skills as GP vets were adequately recognised by clients and 60(62)% felt adequately recognised by their colleagues.

However, some 49(68)% of participants did not feel their skills were adequately recognised by the profession as a whole (Figure 1).

This is an interesting observation 

when the importance of the human GP was recognised more than 60 years ago by the formation of the Royal College of General Practitioners and yet within the veterinary profession a great deal of emphasis has been placed on specialisms.

It was not until 2007 that the designated certificate, the CertAVP(VetGP), was formally recognised by the RCVS and it remains the only GP certificate to have gained this recognition.

Seventy-one (76)% of participants (Figure 2) felt that there was a need for the unique skills of the GP vets to be better recognised and the call to action must be to focus more attention in this direction and address this need.


As has been highlighted elsewhere, this is an area of particular concern for the profession. When asked when they felt stressed, 62(63)% said either frequently or much of the time.

Having a sense of autonomy is also very important for well- being and when asked how often they felt in control of their professional lives, nearly half, 47(52)%, said either never or just occasionally. Only 31(26)% of respondents felt in control “much of the time”.

These figures add another voice saying that this is a set of challenges that we need to face and soon.


The remainder of the short survey looked at how members of the BEVME community and the wider profession approached their CPD.

Interestingly, whilst 17(15)% felt they planned their CPD vigorously and 59(53)% felt they planned moderately, between a quarter(BEVME) 23% and a third (non-BEVME)(32)% indicated that they planned their CPD only vaguely or not at all.

Whilst 77(68)% indicated they planned their CPD rigorously or moderately, it was intriguing that, when asked whether they critically evaluated the CPD available to them, some 38% of BEVME members and (48)% of non- BEVME members approach was to “See what comes along” rather than carefully selecting CPD, 53(52)%, with 9% of BEVME members taking an alternative approach. 

Within the survey we also obtained a substantial quantity of qualitative data relating to the most important criteria used to plan and evaluate CPD. It is not possible in an article of this size to discuss these answers in detail but a taste of what was said is given in the wordle images here.

Wordles are representations of the frequency of appearance of words within a body of text.

World 1 represents the answer to question 5: What are the five most important (in ranked order) criteria you use when planning your CPD?, Wordle 2 represents the answers to question 6: What are the five most important (in ranked order) criteria you use when evaluating available CPD?

The survey also explored people’s wishes with regard to improving their CPD and their professional lives, due to the variety and complexity of these responses they will not be discussed here. 

 This snapshot survey confirms what we probably already knew about wellness issues within the profession. It has highlighted an issue to be addressed within the profession regarding the recognition of the GP vet that demands further discussion and it provided a useful insight into approaches to CPD and how they might potentially be improved.

If you are interested in getting involved with the BEVME community, would like further details about the survey or would like to ask any questions about the areas covered, feel free to e-mail