The RCVS is inviting comment on areview of extra-mural studies as part of the undergraduateveterinary degree, including proposals to make abattoir experience part of the core curriculum.

Although EMS has played an important role in undergraduate veterinary education for over 70 years, recent changes in the structure of undergraduate degree courses, coupled with increasing financial pressures on students, meant that the system needed to be re-considered to ensure it remained relevant and valid.

Abattoir experience could be seen as part of the core curriculum The RCVS formed a working party to undertake a review of EMS as part of the undergraduate veterinary curriculum. The group has now reported.

Barry Johnson, chairman of the working party and RCVS council member, said: “There’s a widespread view that EMS is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of UK veterinary education and must be nurtured.”

However, while the working party felt that the general aims and time spent on EMS remained valid, it made a number of recommendations for improving its efficacy, relevance and flexibility.

The full consultation paper can be viewed at
Key proposals include:

  • The need for better communication between all parties involved in EMS – the vet schools, the practices and the students
  • Students must take responsibility for their EMS learning
  • Universities should ensure students’ records are monitored effectively
  • Recording systems should be developed across universities
  • Some parts of courses may be designated ‘long course’ so students can access increased loans
  • Practices should carry out entry and exit interviews with students
  • Students should be allowed more flexibility in their choice of EMS placements
  • Students should spend more time in a ‘base’ practice
  • Because of its importance, abattoir experience should be moved out of EMS and seen instead as part of the core curriculum.

The Working Party’s report takes account of evidence and views submitted during the early part of the year by those involved with EMS. The final recommendations will go to RCVS Council in November.

Comments are welcomed on any aspect of the proposals and should be sent to Freda Andrews, Head of Education, at by 4 September 2009.

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