Your obligations

As a registered veterinarian in Queensland you must:

  • keep a record of all continuing professional development (CPD) undertaken and retain the documentation for a minimum of 3 years—CPD record template.
  • over a 3 year period complete 60 units of CPD, of which at least 15 units must be structured activities. See the unit summaries below for the explanation of CPD activities.

Acceptable learning activities

A large variety of learning activities may contribute to professional development. The combined veterinary boards do not accredit CPD courses, conferences, workshops etc.

CPD needs to be reasonable, achievable and useful. A formal, structured one-week conference usually has a minimum of twenty hours (20) lectures. A basic unit, equivalent to a one hour formal structured lecture, is used as the benchmark unit of CPD against which all other types of CPD may be ranked.

You may record an activity as CPD if the activity:

  • resulted in the revision/retention of current knowledge and skills; and/or
  • resulted in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills

Documentation (evidence) of CPD

Records should:

  • show the type of activity and date undertaken,
  • show the number of hours claimed and the units that apply,
  • include course attendance documents.

You may use the CPD record template (above) or record the activities in any format, such as a loose leaf folder or diary, as long as it is easily readable.

Post-graduate qualifications

If you are undergoing formal post-graduate training with a view to the acquisition of a higher qualification in a chosen field of work or a related area of veterinary science you are considered to be fulfilling the requirements for CPD. The study programmes for such courses usually contain formal requirements to attend lectures and conferences and to read the published literature relevant to the field of study. You would be exempt from any further requirements of CPD.

CPD unit summary

Minimum requirement 60 units per three (3) year period with at least 15 units to be structured activity

Structured activities (a minimum of 15 units in each 3 year period)EffortValue

1. University CPD courses

1 hour

1 unit

2. Postgraduate courses, conferences, seminars etc

1 hour

1 unit

3. Presentation of scientific papers
The same material given as a presentation or prepared for publication cannot be recorded more than on the first occasion.

1 hour lecture

4 units

4. Preparation of papers for publication
The same material given as a presentation or prepared for publication cannot be recorded more than on the first occasion.

1 hour

1 unit

5. Attendance at presentations by other professions

1 hour

1 unit

6. Distance Learning/Correspondence courses

1 hour

1 unit

7. Written assessment tests

1 test

1 unit

8. Assessed audio/video tapes/information technology

2 hours

1 unit

9. APAV course (completed)

each chapter

1 unit

Unstructured activities


1. In-practice training and instruction, supervision and discussion - see below for details
(restricted to 20 units per 3 year period)

2 hours to 1 day

1 unit

2. Reading

2 hours

1 unit

3. Non-assessed audio/video tapes/information technology

2 hours

1 unit

Structured activities - details

At least fifteen (15) units over each three (3) year period are required.

1. University CPD courses

It is not possible to fully assess the quality of formal post-graduate education courses offered by universities and post-graduate institutions worldwide. However, for the purposes of CPD all are considered to be fully acceptable and equivalent. One (1) unit may be allocated to each hour of lectures.

2. Courses, conferences and seminars conducted by professional veterinary associations or recognised private providers

Post-graduate courses and conferences are run on a worldwide basis by non-university providers. Such courses tend to be of a high standard and presented at a level commensurate with the contemporary requirements of the profession. They are considered to be of equal value to the formal continuing education courses offered by universities. One (1) unit may be allocated to each hour of lectures.

3. Presentation of scientific papers related to chosen field of work

This discipline requires considerable study and would constitute ample proof of CPD. This area is an ideal means for registered specialists to demonstrate their continuing professional development. Four (4) units may be allocated to the presentation of a one (1) hour lecture. Credit is allowed for the first presentation only.

4. Preparation of papers for presentation

One (1) unit has been allocated to the preparation of papers for publication.

5. Scientific lectures, seminars or educational programmes given by other professional groups (i.e. medical practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists etc)

Where such lectures and seminars demonstrably contain material that can assist in the professional development of the veterinarian in their field of professional activity, they are considered to be equivalent to lectures given under sections 1. and 2., above i.e. one (1) unit per lecture hour.

6. Distance learning/correspondence

Where distance learning courses offered by recognised training institutions and organisations in 1. and 2. are undertaken, one (1) unit may be allocated to each hour of active study.

7. Written assessment test

For written tests on veterinary literature articles, one (1) unit may be allocated to each successfully completed, critically assessed questionnaire.

8. Assessed audio/video tapes/information technology

For audio/video tapes and information technology accessed via printed or electronic medium (such as CD ROMs, the internet etc) with some form of critical assessment, used either privately by individuals or in a discussion group, one (1) unit may be allocated to each two (2) hours of participation.

9. Completion of Accreditation Program of Australian Veterinarians (APAV)

For veterinarians achieving APAV accreditation, one (1) unit may be allocated per chapter of the completed course.

Unstructured activities - details

1. In practice training and instruction from professional colleagues and specialists.

Both the instructor and the student may receive credits. (Restricted to twenty (20) units in each three (3) years).
The most common forms of in-practice training are:

  1. The type of training given to a new graduate for the first one or two years post-graduation by more experienced members of the profession. Such training is considered essential to reinforce and enhance the basic training given to undergraduate veterinary students and to impart the additional skills peculiar to the veterinarian's chosen field of professional activity. Recent graduates should be encouraged to participate fully at conferences and seminars wherever possible. One (1) unit may be allocated to each day of in-house training.
  2. The training given to an experienced veterinarian moving from one type of veterinary practice to another by their colleagues in the new field of work. This training is analogous to that given to new graduates and should be supplemented where possible by other more formal forms of CPD related to the new field of work. One (1) unit may be allocated to each day of structured in-house training.
  3. The training given to veterinarians by other more experienced veterinarians – for example specialists in a particular field. This training need not necessarily be for the purposes of acquiring a higher qualification and may be for self-development only. However where utilised as part of the CPD requirement, it should be fully documented. One (1) unit may be allocated to each two (2) hours of this type of training.
  4. Documented discussion between professional colleagues. This form of discussion could include formal case presentations, medical or surgical rounds, journal article discussions or meetings to share knowledge gained at conferences, courses, seminars or workshops as well as time spent with veterinary specialists eg in a referral situation. One (1) unit may be allocated to each two (2) hours of discussion documented.
  5. The training given to foreign graduates seeking to sit the National Veterinary Examination. One (1) unit may be allocated to each day of this type of training.
  6. Undergraduate veterinary supervision – One (1) unit may be allocated to each day of supervision of an undergraduate veterinary student.

2. Reading of books and journals related to the chosen field of work

One (1) unit may be allocated to each two (2) hours of reading veterinary literature. The date, time spent and literature read should be noted in the formal CPD record.

3. Audio/video tapes/information technology

Non-assessed audio/videotapes and information technology access via printed or electronic medium (such as CD ROMs, the internet etc) either used privately by individuals or in a discussion group. One (1) unit may be allocated to each two (2) hours of participation.

6. Portability of CPD Units

CPD units accrued in one veterinary registration jurisdiction will be recognised in all other registration jurisdictions in Australasia providing a formal record is kept in a recognised form. The requirement for a recording period of three (3) years is uniformly implemented in all jurisdictions.

Level of participation

Registered practising veterinarians

The level of participation in CPD programmes should be sufficient to maximise the individual's competency in the chosen field of work.

Registered specialists

Registered veterinary specialists are expected to maintain a superior knowledge of current veterinary practice in their area of specialty.

Registered non-practising veterinarians

Non-practising veterinarians who intend to recommence any veterinary pursuit, whether paid or honorary, should be current and compliant with the CPD guidelines at the commencement of that veterinary pursuit.

Retired category registrants

In Queensland, veterinarians 55 years and over, residing in Australia and who no longer gain an income by virtue of veterinary registration can retain their registration status in a 'Retired' category. There is no obligation for those registrants recognised on the Queensland Register as 'Retired' to submit an annual return of CPD units.

Obligations for recording of CPD

In Queensland, Section 25 of the Veterinary Surgeons Regulation 2016 provides that a veterinarian must keep a record of CPD undertaken.

The annual renewal of registration by registered veterinarians Australia wide incorporates a requirement to submit to their individual registration Board an annual return of the number of CPD units accrued for the registration year ended.

Mandatory reporting of CPD as a prerequisite of continuing registration has been introduced in some Australian registration jurisdictions. In Queensland for the time being the undertaking of CPD is not a prerequisite for annual renewal of registration as a veterinarian. Similarly in Queensland, evidence of CPD is not currently a prerequisite for veterinarians re-entering the profession after an extended absence.

Why continuing education is required

The public has the right to expect that registered veterinarians providing professional services do so in a competent and contemporary manner. Veterinary registration boards are afforded a statutory responsibility to protect the public interest. The boards may use two approaches to achieve this goal. One approach is to take disciplinary action retrospectively and apply penalties befitting the level of professional misconduct proven. The second approach is to proactively establish appropriate mechanisms to encourage veterinarians to undertake a level of post graduate continuing professional development (CPD) to enable the provision of competent veterinary services.

CPD is an interactive process by which veterinarians enhance the skills and knowledge they possessed at date of graduation. It incorporates a continuous post-graduate program of both structured and un-structured learning activities that contribute directly to the professional competence of a veterinarian. A commitment to CPD should be consistent with the objective of protecting animal welfare, consumers, the profession and those associated with the registrant’s field of employment. CPD assists professionals in keeping up to date in their area of practice or employment with changes and new developments in the professional body of knowledge and enables professionals to maintain and improve their level of competence.

Individuals are expected to review their CPD needs regularly, and plan ahead so that they can make the most of development opportunities as they arise. Many veterinarians choose to attend external courses to keep themselves up to date, but participating in more informal networks and in-house training is also of great value. The opportunities offered by working on new projects, or through involvement in research should also be recognised as adding to professional development.

CPD is an important asset not only in maintaining competence but also in assisting veterinarians who are re-entering the workforce after a period of absence or are changing disciplines within the profession. It is particularly essential for maintaining speciality competence.

Last updated: 13 Sep 2023