Guidelines of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
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Guideline 9 - Practising within areas of technical competence

This guideline outlines the appropriate standard expected of a registered veterinary practitioner in the course of veterinary practice. It should be read in conjunction with other related guidelines.

Context to Guideline 9: Practising within areas of technical competence

The attainment of competency in the diverse practice of veterinary science is a continuous process throughout a veterinary practitioner’s career, as technologies and skills evolve or opportunities to change the direction of a career arise.

Recently graduated veterinary practitioners, although conversant with requisite technical skills and knowledge, establish technical competency after entering a working environment. Experienced competent veterinary practitioners provide graduates with the appropriate support and supervision to enable them to strengthen technical competence.

Similarly, veterinary practitioners who are re-commencing professional practice after periods away from delivery of veterinary services may require support and supervision from experienced competent veterinary practitioners as they re-familiarise themselves with current standards.

A veterinary practitioner may be called upon to deliver veterinary services in situations where they self-assess their technical competence as ‘under development’ rather than ‘attained’. In these circumstances, the veterinary practitioner should communicate any implications for the animal’s wellbeing and treatment to ensure the owner’s informed consent is secured.

The ability of a veterinary practitioner to demonstrate technical competency may be reduced through transient or ongoing environmental, social, emotional, logistical and physical factors. A veterinary practitioner should make reasonable adjustments to the way they deliver veterinary services to ensure any impact is appropriately managed.

A veterinary practitioner may need to make reasonable adjustments to their practice, irrespective of their technical competence, to meet conditions placed on their registration by the Board.

Professional conduct under this guideline is demonstrated by the following:
9.1 A veterinary practitioner works within their areas of technical competence or under appropriate supervision in the delivery of the range of veterinary services they offer. 
9.2 A veterinary practitioner acts to develop their knowledge and skills, including seeking assistance within the profession from experienced competent veterinary practitioners and undertaking continuous professional development.
9.3 A veterinary practitioner communicates clearly to the owner and to professional peers the impact of any limitations to their technical competence that affects their delivery of veterinary services, including when they propose to deliver veterinary services outside areas of self-assessed technical competency.
9.4 When the Board has imposed conditions on the registration of a veterinary practitioner, the veterinary practitioner makes reasonable adjustments to their delivery of veterinary services, irrespective of their technical competence, to comply with imposed conditions.

Related guidelines

Date of publication
In effect from 1 May 2021.

This material is current only at the time of publication and may be changed from time to time. The Board reviews and updates the Guidelines on a continuous basis to reflect changes in the science and knowledge base underpinning contemporary veterinary practice. The Board will take reasonable steps to inform the veterinary profession when such updates are released but it remains the responsibility of the individual veterinary practitioner to ensure that their knowledge and application of these Guidelines to their own practice is current.

While the Board has made every effort to ensure that the material in these Guidelines is correct in law, it shall not be liable to any veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity in relation to any claim, action or proceeding whatsoever (whether in contract, negligence or other tort or in proceedings seeking any other form of legal or equitable remedy or relief) for any inadequacy, error or mistake, or for any deficiency in the whole or any part of this document (including any updates incorporated in the document from time to time). A veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity acting upon the contents of this document acknowledges and accepts that this is the basis upon which the Board has produced these Guidelines and made them available to such person or entity.