Return to Work Program FAQs

Refresh and improve your skills with the AVA Return to Work Program.

Pick and choose from clinical and non-clinical modules and complete the e-learning program at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home.

To initiate the enrolment process, please click on the ‘Register for Return to Work’ button on this page.

The enrolment process will require you to select the total number of modules you wish to complete and then you’ll select the modules. You will receive a confirmation email following your payment and within approximately 24-48 hours you will receive another email with further instructions and a link the relevant modules.

Clinical and Non-Clinical Module Overview and Learning Outcomes

  • Clinical modules

Module 1: Perform Medical and Diagnostic Techniques

Display a good understanding of general diagnostic principles, consultation procedures including vaccinations, and therapy for most diseases diagnosed.

Module 2: Provide Anaesthesia and Critical Care

Understand the effects of anaesthesia on physiology, stages of anaesthesia and recovery, use of common anaesthetic agents and pain control in animals.

Module 3: Perform Surgery

Understand various surgical techniques including common daily "routine" surgeries and soft tissue procedures.

Module 4: Undertake Clinical Pathology Testing

Understand techniques required for in house pathology testing, sample collection for external testing and interpretation of test results.

Module 5: Provide Medications and Therapeutic Interventions

Understand drug classes and mechanism of action, interactions and side effects.

  • Non-clinical modules

Module 1: Getting Ready: Self-Reflection and Priority Setting

In this module you will explore your reasons for returning to work, techniques for building confidence, and use simple tools to help you plan your re-entry.

Module 2: Getting Ready: Practical Actions

This module takes a deeper look at the personal preparation required to get ready to resume your career.

Module 3: Finding and Applying for Veterinary Positions

This module focuses on the practical steps for finding and applying for veterinary positions.

Module 4: Settling into Practice Life

This module explores practical tips for managing your time and priorities, setting into a new job and team and negotiating workplace conflict.

The cost to register in the entire Return to Work program (all 9 modules) is $990.00 and includes a complimentary copy of Practical Skills Guide. If you wish to pick and choose specific modules, the cost is $110.00 per module. You’re welcome to complete this complimentary self-assessment to view a list of clinical modules you should consider completing.

July 2021 update: Registration for the Return to Work program will be FREE for AVA members for a short period only, to assist in supporting the veterinary profession during the current vet shortage. If you’re interested in becoming a member, visit the AVA website for membership options and fees or to join today.

Whilst a time limit is not set to complete the program upon enrolment, participants should expect to complete a module in 6 to 8 weeks, which is approximately an hour or two of self-paced learning per week.

Return to Work is eligible for CPD, but the amount of CPD depends on the type of module and how you wish to approach your learning. Why? When you complete a clinical module in the Return to Work program, an optional assessment will become available on the same course page. If you complete the assessment, your learning will be classified as ‘structured’. If you decide not to complete the assessment your learning will be classified as ‘unstructured’. When you complete a non-clinical module in the Return to Work program, your learning will be classified as unstructured.


Clinical Modules:

  • Module + assessment completed = 10 structured CPD
  • Module completed only = 5 unstructured CPD

Non Clinical Modules:

  • Module completed = 4 unstructured CPD

The certificate that will automatically become available upon completion of your learning will automatically display your CPD and if completed, the result of your assessment. AVA Members are encouraged to record their hours in My CPD via My AVA on the AVA website. For more information about CPD please refer to the VetEd Points table on this page.

Each clinical module is accompanied by an optional 12 question assessment, which include a mix of question types such as true/false, multiple choice, missing word, etc. Optional means, it’s up to you whether you wish to participate. Completion of the assessment is encouraged as it provides an opportunity to reflect on your learning, as well as ‘structured’ CPD. Please refer to the FAQ ‘Is Return to Work eligible for CPD’ for more information about CPD. Your grade will be provided immediately following submission and there is no required passing grade. If you’re not happy with your first attempt, you’ll be given another 2 - that’s 3 attempts in total for a single assessment. You’ll get an opportunity to review your attempt following submission. This is when we recommend you take your time. Review the comments provided per question and refer back to the module resources before initiating another attempt.

  • Clinical modules – an average of 8 to 10 hours may be required to complete a clinical module, however we recognise everyone learns at a different pace, so spend as much or as little time as you need to become competent with the learning outcomes. Allow additional time if you choose to complete the optional assessment following completion of a module.
  • Non clinical modules – an average of 2 to 4 hours may be required to complete a non clinical module, including reading, reflection and activities.

The modules are online, so they can be done at any time, from anywhere and from any device. So all you need is a device and an internet connection.

For each module you complete, you will receive a Certificate of Achievement. The version of the certificate you are awarded will depend on the learning path you take, as follows:

  • Certificate of Achievement (module only) will be awarded if you only complete the module (and not the assessment).
  • Certificate of Achievement (assessment completed) will be awarded if you complete the module and the assessment. This certificate will display your (highest) assessment grade and your learning will be classified as ‘structured CPD’. Please refer to the FAQ ‘Is Return to Work eligible for CPD’ for more information about CPD.

You will also have access to download a PDF version of the module to keep, and as part of the program you’ll gain access to the Return to Work Practical Skills Guide.

The module content was curated by a team of veterinary professionals and the modules were developed and published by AVA.

Clinical Modules:


Dr Philip Brain has been a small animal practitioner for 25 years. He has completed a residency program in small animal medicine at the Veterinary Specialist Centre, North Ryde, NSW and gained his Fellowship in Small Animal Medicine from the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in 2007. Previously Philip has been an examiner for the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in small animal and canine medicine and continues to be a mentor for candidates. Philip has served on ASAVA executive for 18 years including a Presidential term and two terms as Honorary Secretary. He was recognized with an AVA Meritorious Service Award in 1999 and the ASAVA Distinguished Service Award in 2005. He became the first veterinarian to receive a Chartered Membership (CMAVA) of the AVA in 2004 and in 2007 was awarded with a Fellowship of the AVA. More information here.

Dr Phil Tucak – BSc BVMS

Dr Tucak graduated from Murdoch University in 1999, and is a member of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and an Executive Committee member of the Australian Veterinary Conservation Biologists (AVCB). Phil is experienced in small animal medicine and surgery, and works in companion animal practice at Cottesloe Vet in Perth. Phil also works as the Wildlife Outreach Vet providing multimedia communications management services to veterinary businesses and wildlife conservation organisations. Phil has previously worked as Communications Manager at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Communications & Interpretation Coordinator at Perth Zoo and as a veterinarian across Australia, the United Kingdom and in Africa and Antarctica. More information here and here.

Dr Jo Sussex – BVSc(Hons) BA(Psych)

Jo is a general practice veterinarian at Beachside Veterinary Services in Cairns, Queensland, where she is able to focus on thorough case workup and spending quality time with her clients. Her primary clinical interests are anaesthesia, chronic disease, and diagnostic imaging. She is pleased to be a magnet for obscure cases, and welcomes the challenge of diagnosis and treatment in tropical and semi-remote veterinary medicine, with emphasis on lateral thinking and adaptability in the face of complex problems. Although she has a degree in psychology, and has worked in the field of training and organisational psychology, Jo is not a psychologist. She describes herself as a clinical veterinarian with a second professional focus on the behavioural and emotional aspects which affect the broader veterinary industry. To this end, she aims to engage perspective and resilience in supporting her colleagues, and in providing mentorship to veterinary students and nurses. Jo has worked on several non-clinical projects, including research into the impact of resilience on veterinary student selection, and curation of materials for the Return to Work Program with the Australian Veterinary Association. She is committed to issues of sustainability in the veterinary workforce, and is passionate about the social and clinical aspects of veterinary training and retention.

Dr Carmel Griffin – BVSc CSAM GCEd. MANZCVSc

Qualified from the University of Queensland and went on to work in the United Kingdom for 5 years, completing a 3-year university residency in feline medicine, whilst undertaking the RCVS Certificate of Small Animal Medicine and ANZCVS Membership exams in Feline Medicine. On returning to Australia, she worked in a series of private feline, referral and University practices, which lead to a strong interest in clinical teaching and post graduate education. She completed the Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education and became the first Clinical Academic in Small Animal Medicine, during seven years at the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science.

After a career break, Carmel returned to part-time small animal practice in 2012 and in late 2015 also began working in the post graduate veterinary education sector, with Improve International Australia. Currently she enjoys working part-time in clinical practice and in the exciting role as the Director of Operations, Improve International Australia, part of Veterinary Education and Training Pty Ltd.

Non Clinical Modules:

Crampton Consulting Group – Crampton Consulting Group has over sixteen years experience solely servicing the Australasian veterinary industry. With over 240 years of experience in our team, our aim is to work with you and your practice to develop solutions that work for you, not everyone else. More information.

Queries about the Return to Work program can be submitted via Contact on our website here and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

The clinical content will be reviewed by veterinary professionals annually, in line with the financial year, to ensure it references current information and veterinary practices.

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Complete the self-assessment

View a list of modules and competencies you should consider completing in the clinical Return to Work modules.

Proudly supporting retention and return to the profession