Being an excellent GP veterinarian takes more than clinical and technical skills

10 Nov 2023


The AVA Chartered Veterinary PractitionerTM (AVA CVP) launched in January 2023 and is now accepting admissions for 2024. With a satisfaction rating of 98%, the accreditation is already exceeding expectations. 

When veterinarians graduate, they have the clinical expertise needed but don’t necessarily have all the personal and leadership skills essential to managing a team or for career success, satisfaction and longevity in small animal practice. 

Image: Dr Ross Polst, Hinterland Veterinary Surgery

This was certainly the experience of Dr Ross Polst, who says concepts such as personal and professional wellbeing were not prioritised when he graduated in 2001. Now, as owner and principal veterinarian at Hinterland Veterinary Surgery on the Gold Coast, he is acutely aware of the importance of his own wellness, and that of his staff, clients and the wider community. 

Ross was initially attracted to enrol in the 2023 AVA CVP pilot program by a desire to lift the professional profile of small animal general practitioners. So far, he has found the course to be “above and beyond” his expectations.  

"The first component of the AVA CVP course, Veterinary Personal and Professional Effectiveness was a real eye-opener for me into aspects of both veterinary as well as personal life that I had not previously known about or even contemplated” he said. 

Ross has been impressed with how practical the course is and has been able to immediately implement improved consulting formats and other tools into his day-to-day-practice.  

“Already we’ve instigated protocols around burnout, we’ve had staff meetings around what to look out for in each other, how people are feeling, who to go to, what's the process to help each other. We’ve also looked at how we as a team could improve our workplace culture, how to avoid the toxicity aspects and gossip.” 

He highlights his learnings around mindset and burnout and knowing how to look out for compassion or empathic fatigue as being key to helping him as a leader, particularly as clients are increasingly questioning costs and wanting more information about the value they’re getting.  

“[Looking at] how you approach your work, how you approach difficult conversations with clients, how you approach conversations with staff. Just changing your perception and not getting bogged down by dwelling on things before anything’s actually happened and getting your mindset correct. Realising not everything’s going to be negative.” 

Becoming part of a supportive learning community has been an unexpected bonus for Ross. “A lot of the people in our course are practice owners and you can see the way we are getting a lot out of it, to be better leaders. It’s a very varied group of owners. I actually found the Zoom meetings almost therapeutic as far as being able to connect in a social way to fellow owners and get their perspectives. Practice ownership can be quite isolating.” 

Although the AVA CVP has helped him as a practice owner, Ross firmly believes the course is appealing to veterinarians at all stages of their career. He shares an example of studying the legalities surrounding the Veterinary Board. “New grads can get very stressed as soon as someone even vaguely mentions the Board. Knowing more about the process can take some of the fear and stress out of it.” 

The course is designed for small animal practitioners that have at least three years of clinical experience. Anyone who loves working in general veterinary practice and wants to be an excellent primary care veterinarian should consider applying.  

Employers can also offer to support team members financially to undertake the program as part of their professional development. 

Ross adds: “I definitely encourage all veterinarians, young and old to enrol in the AVA CVP and see for yourself how much you and the profession can grow with the right tools. Learning the models and techniques taught in this course have helped me both in my personal and professional life and has added to my pride in our great profession." 


Secure your place for 2024 

Applications are now being accepted to commence study in 2024. Apply by 8 December 2023 for January 2024 intake. 

Visit the AVA Chartered Veterinary Practitioner™ website at: 

Send an email enquiry to: or call the AVA to speak with a friendly member of the AVA CVP team: (02) 9431 5004.