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Perspectives in Professional Education: Reassessing courses required for admission to colleges of veterinary medicine in North America and the Caribbean to decrease stress among first-year students

James N. MooreDepartment of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Noah D. CohenDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

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Scott A. BrownDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify courses in which first-year veterinary students struggled academically and to survey veterinarians as to their opinions on existing prerequisite courses and proposed alternatives.

DESIGN Electronic surveys.

SAMPLE Associate deans for academic affairs at colleges of veterinary medicine and practicing veterinarians in North America and the Caribbean.

PROCEDURES Surveys were sent to associate deans of academic affairs seeking information on courses in which first-year veterinary students most commonly struggled academically. The 6 courses most commonly listed as prerequisites for admission to veterinary college were identified, and practitioners were asked to rank the relative importance of those courses for preparing students for veterinary college and to rank the importance of 7 potential alternative courses.

RESULTS Data were obtained from 21 associate deans and 771 practicing veterinarians. First-year veterinary students most commonly struggled academically in anatomy, physiology, and histology courses, but these courses were rarely included as prerequisites for admission. Practicing veterinarians agreed that anatomy and physiology should be considered as possible alternatives to 1 or more current prerequisite courses, such as organic chemistry and physics.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE First-year veterinary students commonly encountered academic difficulties in anatomy, physiology, and histology. Because few surveyed veterinary colleges include these courses as prerequisites for admission, many students were exposed to this material for the first time as veterinary students, potentially adding to their academic difficulties and causing stress and anxiety. To help address this situation, veterinary colleges might consider replacing 1 or more current prerequisite courses (eg, organic chemistry and physics) with anatomy, physiology, and histology.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify courses in which first-year veterinary students struggled academically and to survey veterinarians as to their opinions on existing prerequisite courses and proposed alternatives.

DESIGN Electronic surveys.

SAMPLE Associate deans for academic affairs at colleges of veterinary medicine and practicing veterinarians in North America and the Caribbean.

PROCEDURES Surveys were sent to associate deans of academic affairs seeking information on courses in which first-year veterinary students most commonly struggled academically. The 6 courses most commonly listed as prerequisites for admission to veterinary college were identified, and practitioners were asked to rank the relative importance of those courses for preparing students for veterinary college and to rank the importance of 7 potential alternative courses.

RESULTS Data were obtained from 21 associate deans and 771 practicing veterinarians. First-year veterinary students most commonly struggled academically in anatomy, physiology, and histology courses, but these courses were rarely included as prerequisites for admission. Practicing veterinarians agreed that anatomy and physiology should be considered as possible alternatives to 1 or more current prerequisite courses, such as organic chemistry and physics.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE First-year veterinary students commonly encountered academic difficulties in anatomy, physiology, and histology. Because few surveyed veterinary colleges include these courses as prerequisites for admission, many students were exposed to this material for the first time as veterinary students, potentially adding to their academic difficulties and causing stress and anxiety. To help address this situation, veterinary colleges might consider replacing 1 or more current prerequisite courses (eg, organic chemistry and physics) with anatomy, physiology, and histology.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Moore (jmoore@uga.edu).