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.
OBJECTIVE To assess stakeholders' expectations regarding new veterinary graduates' ability to perform various diagnostic and surgical procedures.
DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.
SAMPLE Veterinary students, recent graduates, clinical veterinary college faculty, and general practitioners at or from AVMA Council on Education–accredited colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and Caribbean.
PROCEDURES Respondents rated how proficient they expected new graduates, on their first day of practice, to be in 8 diagnostic procedures and the degree of independence they expected of new graduates in 8 surgical procedures.
RESULTS Response rate was 9% (235/2,500) for practitioners, 12% (151/1,275) for faculty members, 14% (70/500) for recent graduates, and 15% (1,731/11,474) for students. All 4 respondent subgroups expected that new graduates would be able to adequately perform a fine-needle aspirate of a subcutaneous mass (96% to 98% expected new graduates to be able to adequately perform this procedure) and a cystocentesis (93% to 97% expected new graduates to be able to adequately perform this procedure). The greatest variability in responses was noted for performing hand ties, ultrasound-guided liver biopsy, and arthrocentesis. Most respondents expected new graduates to be able to independently perform a canine castration (82% to 94% expecting independence), feline subcutaneous mass removal (66% to 75% expecting independence), and canine ovariohysterectomy (65% to 89% expecting independence).
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results revealed a diversity of opinion regarding expected proficiency for new graduates performing various diagnostic and surgical procedures. Findings may help colleges of veterinary medicine refine their curricula by providing end points for student training.
OBJECTIVE To develop and evaluate a pyramid training method for teaching techniques for collection of diagnostic samples from swine.
DESIGN Experimental trial.
SAMPLE 45 veterinary students.
PROCEDURES Participants went through a preinstruction assessment to determine their familiarity with the equipment needed and techniques used to collect samples of blood, nasal secretions, feces, and oral fluid from pigs. Participants were then shown a series of videos illustrating the correct equipment and techniques for collecting samples and were provided hands-on pyramid-based instruction wherein a single swine veterinarian trained 2 or 3 participants on each of the techniques and each of those participants, in turn, trained additional participants. Additional assessments were performed after the instruction was completed.
RESULTS Following the instruction phase, percentages of participants able to collect adequate samples of blood, nasal secretions, feces, and oral fluid increased, as did scores on a written quiz assessing participants' ability to identify the correct equipment, positioning, and procedures for collection of samples.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that the pyramid training method may be a feasible way to rapidly increase diagnostic sampling capacity during an emergency veterinary response to a swine disease outbreak.
OBJECTIVE To compare vocational aspirations and outcomes of participants in the 10-week Leadership Program for Veterinary Students at Cornell University.
SAMPLE Veterinary students who participated in the program between 1990 and 2013.
PROCEDURES Questionnaires that sought information about the career aspirations of participants at the beginning and end of the program were reviewed, along with records documenting the career progression of participants, audio recordings of interviews conducted with students, and notes of vocation-oriented counseling sessions held during each year's program.
RESULTS At the conclusion of the program, 143 of 174 (82%) participants indicated they were more likely than not to undertake research training after completing their veterinary degree, compared with 106 of 174 (61%) at the beginning. Participation also stimulated interest in residency training and industry, but did little to promote interest in careers in government or the military. The percentage of participants who indicated they were more likely than not to pursue additional training in private practice decreased from 97 of 174 (56%) at the beginning of the program to 75 of 174 (43%) at the end. Information on career progression was available for 391 individuals, of whom 177 (45%) were pursuing careers of the kind envisioned by the program. However, 189 (48%) participants had a career in general or specialty clinical practice.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The Leadership Program appeared to have a short-term influence on careers anticipated by program participants. However, a substantial proportion pursued careers in clinical practice after graduation.
Over the past decade, there has been growing concern within the veterinary profession that new veterinary graduates are less prepared for the demands of clinical practice than they were in previous generations.1–4 Whether new veterinary graduates are successful in clinical practice is multifactorial and dependent, in part, on a variety of nontechnical competencies such as communication skills, business acumen, and critical thinking.5,6 Although instruction in these types of nontechnical competencies is often incorporated in veterinary curricula,3,4 this training must not come at the detriment of the development of core clinical skills.
To determine whether addition of an optional clinical skills laboratory (OCSL) to the traditional surgery curriculum would affect total surgery time or incision closure time in veterinary students performing ovariohysterectomy of a dog during a third-year surgery course.
Retrospective and prospective study of veterinary student attendance at OCSL sessions and student performance during the third-year surgery course.
Students from the classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014 at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
For all students, total surgery time and incision closure time were recorded when students performed an ovariohysterectomy of a dog during their third-year live-animal surgery course. Times were analyzed to identify differences among classes and determine whether times were associated with number of OCSL sessions attended, previous experience performing ovariohysterectomies, or enrollment in an elective clinical skills course.
Total surgery and incision closure times were not significantly different between students in the class of 2012 (no access to the OCSL prior to the third-year surgery course) and students in the class of 2013 (ie, access to 4 OCSL sessions during the spring semester prior to the third-year surgery course). However, times were significantly shorter for students in the class of 2014 (ie, students who had access to OCSL sessions during the 3 semesters prior to the third-year surgery course) than for students in the other 2 classes.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Results suggested that attendance in the OCSL sessions was associated with improvements in surgical performance, as reflected in faster total surgery and incision closure times while performing an ovariohysterectomy during the third-year surgery course.
Objective—To identify changes in the teaching of nontechnical skills, knowledge, aptitudes, and attitudes (SKAs) at US colleges and schools of veterinary medicine between 1999 and 2009.
Sample—All 28 US colleges and schools of veterinary medicine.
Procedures—An electronic questionnaire was sent to the entire study population. Results were compared with published results of a similar survey performed in 1999 of colleges and schools of veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada.
Results—A 100% response rate was achieved. All respondents were found to offer at least 1 course related to SKAs in 2009, compared with 94% (29/31) of respondents in 1999. A total of 110 such courses were documented, compared with 47 in 1999. In 2009, 26 of the 28 (93%) colleges and schools had at least 1 course related to SKAs that was required, compared with 17 of the 31 (55%) respondents to the 1999 survey. Courses were most commonly incorporated in years 1 and 3 of the curriculum and were most often valued at 1 or 2 credit hours. Forty-one of 67 (61%) courses had been developed since 1999. The most common topics were communication and financial management.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results demonstrated an increased commitment to teaching the SKAs on the part of the US colleges and schools of veterinary medicine. However, the question remains as to how effective these initiatives will be in enhancing the economic success of graduates and the veterinary medical profession in general.
Objective—To determine relationships among several common measures of performance prior to and during veterinary school (ie, Graduate Record Examination [GRE] scores, undergraduate grade point average [UGPA], Qualifying Examination [QE] scores, overall grade point average during veterinary school [VGPA], and scores for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination [NAVLE]).
Design—Longitudinal retrospective study.
Sample Population—192 students from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and 152 students from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
Procedures—Student UGPA, VGPA, and GRE score data were gathered during the normal admissions and academic processes. The QE was administered as a low-stakes examination at both institutions for the purposes of curricular assessment. Scores on the NAVLE were provided with student permission by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Path analysis was used to explore hypothesized relationships among variables.
Results—GRE scores and UGPA predicted NAVLE scores indirectly through QE scores and VGPA, whereas QE scores and VGPA directly predicted NAVLE scores. The resulting models explained 58% to 62% of the variance in NAVLE scores, with QE score being the strongest predictor.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that for veterinary school students, GRE scores, UGPA, VGPA, and QE scores could be used to predict scores on the NAVLE. This suggests that these measures could prove useful to veterinary schools when admitting students or preparing them for the NAVLE.
Objective—To explore perceptions of faculty educators regarding the importance of nontechnical competencies in veterinary graduates and the placement of nontechnical competency development in veterinary education.
Sample Population—All faculty members at 5 North American veterinary medical institutions.
Procedures—Participants rated the importance of 14 nontechnical competencies and indicated in which phase or phases of veterinary education such competencies should be developed (ie, curriculum placement). Differences in mean ratings were statistically evaluated, as were associations between ratings or curriculum placement and respondent institution, gender, experience, and discipline.
Results—Mean ratings of importance were above neutral for all competencies and were highest for ethical, critical thinking, and interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies; development of these competencies was favored in preveterinary and veterinary training. Ratings were lower for management and business competencies; development of these and other competencies was placed primarily in the clinical phase of the veterinary curriculum. Basic science, nonveterinarian, and junior faculty appeared to more strongly appreciate the importance of nontechnical skills, whereas large animal and midcareer faculty reported a more reserved degree of support. Female faculty were more likely to place nontechnical competency development throughout the educational process.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Participants agreed nontechnical competencies are important for veterinary graduates; however, faculty perceptions differed from previously published findings regarding the relative importance of business and management skills. Those involved in faculty hiring, faculty development, and curricular planning should also be aware of disciplinary and career stage differences affecting faculty perspectives.
The body of information and clinical skills that is considered a minimum knowledge base for veterinarians and physicians has expanded dramatically over the past 2 decades. In human medicine, this has resulted in a gradual lengthening of the postgraduate training period, with fewer physicians entering practice after only 4 years of medical school training and a year-long internship. In contrast, the training period for veterinarians has largely been unchanged, with most veterinarians entering practice after 4 years of veterinary school and without first completing internship training. The combination of an increased minimum knowledge base and static training period may inhibit