Veterinary Education Symposium 2013: CPD for Veterinary Reception Staff: Optimising the Benefits for Staff and the Practice



Author note: it was good to hear the questions about this innovative work particularly as regards addressing the learning needs of staff who are often neglected and as regards the potential for further adult-centred learning in this context.


Fitzmaurice, B. Riverside Veterinary Care Ltd., Abergavenny and Robbé, I.J. Memorial University, Newfoundland 




Continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for veterinary reception staff should be enjoyable, meet individuals’ needs and practices’ needs. However these sessions can: be hard to source, difficult to implement in busy practices, deal in generalities, fail to benefit individuals and practices’ business.


Our approach involved an external facilitator with professional education competencies holding three interactive CPD sessions over three months. The topics of the sessions were based on staff identified needs before, during and after each session and on the practice needs ascertained by the veterinary directors.


The initial topics included difficult clients, late payments, and bereavement. The methods included assuring confidentiality, using the communication skills curriculum project ( with modified scenarios, and feedback.


Staff were reassured by the confidentiality within the sessions and by only anonymised information being conveyed to the directors by the facilitator hence they spoke with more openness. The practice gained specific feedback about opportunities for improvements e.g. lone working policies, dispensing and follow-up procedures, communications within the practice and induction issues. Staff development occurred through role playing in the scenarios, interactive discussions, and self-determined learning between sessions. Other learning needs e.g. credit regulations, complaints, emerged and the staff saw the directors responding.


Neighbouring practices could hold joint CPD sessions to reduce costs and the impact on rotas, and to obtain specific, anonymised feedback from a facilitator. Veterinary education institutions could provide a facilitator which would also improve communications between primary care and secondary referral centres. Our approach involves staff whose CPD needs can be neglected.

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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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