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CVS' graduate programme aims to support graduate capability and confidence

CVS' graduate programme aims to support graduate capability and confidence

CVS Improves New Graduate Programme Over Three-year Quality Improvement Project

4 weeks ago

19th June, 2024 15h33


CVS has improved its New Graduate Programme (NGP) - as part of a three year quality improvement project - to develop a stronger clinical foundation and to provide a more supportive experience in practice.

The improvements have led 78% of graduates to cite that they feel well supported, 70% to say that there is a thorough induction, and 43% to accept a role within CVS due to its NGP structure and support. CVS’ graduate course feedback scores also now stand at 4.4 out of 5.

To develop the programme, CVS first conducted research with graduates, practice stakeholders and Vet Graduate Development Programme (VetGDP) Advisors between 2021-23, to understand their experiences. 

This led to the creation of a new ‘learning ethos’ which outlines how CVS will support graduates’ workplace learning on the job. Namely: supporting the graduate to reflect on their learnings whilst doing the job (case-based experiential learning ~70% of a graduate’s time); through in-practice mentorship (mentored learning ~20% of a graduate’s time); and through professional and clinical courses (structured focused learning ~10% of a graduate’s time). 

To improve the sustainability of recruitment, CVS interrogated cases where graduates had left. It found new graduate confidence and team fit were significant factors – and that careful matching of graduate to practice was key. A resulting two stage interview process was therefore developed; firstly to centrally assess the graduates with multiple stakeholder scoring; and, secondly for local practices to select graduates based on their unique environment. 

A four-week central induction plan was then designed to solidify day-one clinical skills, strengthen professional communication skills and build graduate confidence. It included a two-week tutorial programme on delegation in practice, practicing GP skills in simulated environments and consultation communication. A two-week individual practice induction was also created, along with a suggested on-boarding plan. 

To synchronise with 2021 RCVS VetGDP Entrustable Professional Activities requirements, CVS’ in-programme taught courses were updated. This resulted in 15 new courses supporting clinical and professional development, including; practical courses on surgery; case-based learning on common presentations; revised courses on mental health; and a sole-charge week where graduates set learning outcomes and spent time in MiNightVet out-of-hours practices. 

A VetGDP Adviser was then appointed in all NGP practices to improve pastoral support by holding regular meetings, ensuring the delivery of effective clinical care, and mentoring clinical and professional development. Here a support package of VetGDP training and resources were created such as a mentor training scheme, handbook and workspace – with a library of resources and forum for VetGDP Adviser collaboration. In addition, two new Graduate Pastoral Support vets were employed to provide an additional layer of support. 99% of CVS’ Advisers now feel they have adequate training and resources for their role.

To help graduates exit the programme, CVS also introduced a new graduate careers day to showcase the variety of career opportunities and vacancies withn the group’s general practice, referrals, emergency care and management teams. 

Rob Kelly, Head of Clinical Veterinary Education at CVS, said: “We wanted to significantly improve our New Graduate Programme to improve graduate capability and build foundations for an impactful career routed in general practice. Our research shows that the improvements we have made are now a reason for joining CVS. Our two-year revised programme now supports 200-250 graduates a year, a significant proportion of all UK graduate vets.”

CVS’ New Graduate Programme was the first in the UK, with a two-year structured clinical training programme supporting transition into general practice in small animal, equine and farm disciplines. The group operates across small animal, farm animal, equine, laboratories and crematoria, with over 500 veterinary practices and referral centres in the UK and Australia. In the last five years the company has invested nearly £80 million in its sites, facilities and equipment, in addition to industry leading training and support, to give the best possible care to animals. For further information on CVS visit .

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