Rasmussen L, Kitchen JB, Aldrige BM. Observations on a novel universal skills-based approach to veterinary clinical skills education [abstract]. ALTEX. 2005;22(Special Issue):19


To expand upon the achievable outcomes of established approaches, we developed a clinical skills curriculum grounded in universal skills, self-direction and self-evaluation that emphasised beneficial, and eliminated harmful, animal involvement. The novel aspect of this design was the focus on universal skills as foundational to professional physical performance as basic sciences are viewed as foundational to clinical cognition. The goal was preparing pre-clinical veterinary students in the psychomotor, behavioural, perceptive and cognitive skills necessary for safely and successfully performing procedures in the apprenticeship format of the clinical years. Course content and delivery progressed from basic skills training on simple/abstract learning tools to integrated skills training on procedural simulation learning tools to performance in closely supervised apprentice training with patient learning tools. The course was temporally progressive in complexity, challenge, and responsibility while allowing unlimited learning tool repetition. Training in problem solving, knowledge integration and life-long learning skills were threaded throughout. Evaluation was by faculty observation, pre- and post-training testing, and student logbook review. While the course structure provides a promising framework for limiting animal use and harm in veterinary clinical skills education, progress in professional performance was affected by student acceptance of the pedagogy. In fact, improvement in metacognition, self-reliance, and physical performance closely paralleled individual student acceptance of the curricular approach, and was limited in highly teacher-dependent learners. Factors that promoted acceptance were learning tool design, student introspection, and instructor feedback. To overcome these problems curricular redesign will address student compliance and validation studies will be conducted.

Link to journal: ALTEX - Alternatives to Animal Experimentation