Mind the Gap!

Claire Phillips

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An innovative new course, designed for our 4th year Veterinary Undergraduates as part of their 5 year programme, aims to help them bridge the gap between the content-intense first four years of their degree and their lecture-free, clinical rotations in final year. The course was developed from discussions with final year clinical teachers and individual students.
Students have often complained that they are given so much information to learn that they don’t have time to think, or to integrate their knowledge and apply it in a practical way.
Changing modes from student to a rounded professional, dealing with life and death is found to be a difficult challenge.
Despite the difficulties this change is crucial to produce effective, professional and employable yet satisfied veterinary surgeons. In addition, students and new graduates have expressed concerns about being unprepared for difficult situations in practice such as dealing with distressed clients.

The poster will list the elements of the course but will cover in greater detail the development of problem-solving and decision-making skills, using flexible delivery methods in conjunction with enhanced training in communications skills.
Owning a large body of knowledge is important but is rendered ineffective, if it cannot be used flexibly and then communicated to clients and colleagues.
A significant proportion of the course delivery is via a VLE, with asynchronous, interactive electronic cases covering numerous species, with tutor-released information and monitoring. Key features are the ability of the method of case delivery to allow students to ‘go wrong’ in their clinical work-up, as far as diagnosis and treatment, before ensuring the correct pathways and end-point are reached at the conclusion of the case. This makes the presentation as realistic as possible. There are also cost-restrictions on cases to make students aware of the realities of general practice and prepare them for the workplace.
Students can work at their own pace, as individuals and/or in groups, at a time they choose, at a place they choose (on-site, at home). They also have some degree of choice as to the content of the course by choosing the cases they work-up, including which species.
The enhanced communication skills element involves videoed small group role-play sessions with ‘actors’ as clients. Students are given scenarios of difficult situations to enact in a safe, supportive but realistic environment.
The students have to take responsibility for their own learning and reflect on their skills, experiences, strengths and weaknesses, documented in a portfolio, as a taster for their final year and as a graduate to a profession where lifelong learning is key.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2009
Event6th Enhancement Themes Annual Conference - Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Mar 20096 Mar 2009


Conference6th Enhancement Themes Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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