Students at Britain’s newest vet school have begun their unique community-based final year – a year in which they put into clinical practice the skills and knowledge they have gained over the last four years.

Students at Britain’s newest vet school have begun their unique community-based final year – a year in which they put into clinical practice the skills and knowledge they have gained over the last four years.
 
Nottingham students on rotation at the PDSAStudents at The University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science undertake an innovative lecture-free year of clinical rotations embedded with the school’s clinical associates. These include first opinion and referral small animal, farm and equine practices as well as other organisations which specialise in exotics, zoo animals, pathology and poultry.
 
This new approach to a vet student’s final year of training was developed by the school, which was the first veterinary school to be built in the UK for 50 years.
 
The final year comprises 26 weeks of clinical rotations together with a 4 week elective in specialist equine, farm or small animal practice. In groups of just three or four and under the supervision of university academic staff, students gain clinical experience in a range of clinical settings through observation, discussion and practical experience.
 
In addition to their end of year final exams the students will undertake a range of assessments whilst on rotation. The assessments are context based and use real cases with students being evaluated for clinical competency, reasoning, behaviours and skills as well as professionalism throughout their rotations.
 
Year five student Jennifer Hall said: “The last week at the Scarsdale farm department has been one of the best practical experiences I have ever had. The farm vets have been so patient with us, been fantastic teachers and given us so much responsibility.  It was an amazingly positive experience and one which makes me excited to be a vet.”
 
Nottingham students on rotation at the PDSACharlie Thompson, who is undertaking an equine rotation at the Oakham Veterinary Hospital, said: “This rotation has been a fantastic experience with a huge number of equine cases every day. The staff have been very welcoming and the facilities available are amazing.  The technologies available include scintigraphy, MRI, ultrasound and radiography – all used to help come to a diagnosis. Modern treatment techniques such as stem cells get cases on course for successful return to athletic function. It has been an eye-opening experience and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the practice.”
 
Joy Fenner, from Kegworth in Derbyshire said: “At Nottingham I feel I have been very well taught throughout the first 4 years to prepare me for this first week of rotations. I am based at the PDSA in Nottingham and it has been great; I can’t wait for the rest of the year. The staff have been so supportive and helpful, and all our teaching sessions have been on a one to two basis so far. The investment Nottingham has made in us in terms of staffing and facilities has been huge and is so appreciated by the students.”
 
Chris Parker, senior Partner at Scarsdale Veterinary Hospital, said “The Scarsdale farm animal team has been determined from the outset that the student experience with us is to be exceptional. On the first morning alone, one student had managed to get through the best part of 80 rectal exams while the remaining three students managed to diagnose and operate on cows with abomasal displacements.
 
University of Nottingham vet students on the farms skills rotation (L-R: Chloe Bastone, Samantha Clayton, James Bould and Beverley Bush)“The farmers were generally very impressed at the level of knowledge demonstrated and at having skilled operators available to lameness or condition score their cows. Having Associate Professors and Diploma holders turning up on the farms to act as consultants or just give a second opinion has sent a real buzz through the farming community.
 
“I am happy we are contributing to producing a farm vet with solid day one competencies as well as already noting down some names that we will be happy to see applying for future farm positions.”
 
Gary England, dean of the veterinary school, said “The school is very excited to have reached year five of the course. The hard work the school has undertaken in the last five years has culminated in an unrivalled clinical experience for our students.
 
“The support from our clinical associates has been superb, and we look forward to further developing our relationships with [them] and their clients to improve animal health and welfare in the Midlands. We have our key Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons visit in February 2011, and look forward to the visitors recognising the outstanding student experience at Nottingham, and being able to recommend MRCVS for our students at their graduation.”

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