A new clinical skills laboratory at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine will provide added space and technology to help veterinary students develop and hone patient-care techniques and client communications.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony held Aug. 4 to mark completion of the 5,000-square-foot, $4 million facility, UF administrators said the new space was one of the largest areas dedicated to clinical skills training at any North American veterinary college.
“The program we plan to deliver here will set a bar,” said Pamela Ginn, D.V.M., associate dean for students and instruction at the college. “As educators of veterinary students from a variety of backgrounds overwhelmingly headed for private practice, we need to ensure we are graduating the most practice-ready veterinarians a college of veterinary medicine can produce.”
Veterinarians must leave a program with the set of knowledge and skills to apply successfully to a broad spectrum of challenges, she said.
“The great majority of graduates do not spend another one to four years in a training program but are instead expected to know and do many things as they step out the door,” Ginn said. “Although we currently do a great job of meeting the needs of our graduates and the profession, we need to be intentional regarding how we teach not only technical skills but communication, teamwork, medical records management and critical thinking skills.”
Among the technical skills to be taught in the new laboratory are IV catheterization, bandaging and the administration of medication using canine, feline and equine models. Stations set up during the ceremony allowed attendees to view demonstrations in each of these areas.
Prior to assuming clinical rotations in their junior year, first- and second-year veterinary students are now required to take a course in supervised patient care and clinical skills. The course, launched at UF in the fall of 2014, provides a variety of learning opportunities for students to develop technical skills through the use of both simulations and live animals. Students also will participate in learning exercises involving communication, medical records management and case management, along with critical thinking assessments.
The course taught in the laboratory will help both instructors and students document the progressive acquisition and demonstration of competence in these skills.
Second-year veterinary student Ariel Robelen called the new course and facility a useful “stepping stone” that allows students to practice their skills prior to beginning clinical rotations in their third year.
“After weekend hospital rotations with the course, I am now confident of the layout of hospitals, comfortable with the computer program and aware of basic hospital protocols and procedures,” Robelen said. “The thought of walking into the hospital for my first rotation, less than one year from now, is less daunting.”
Other speakers at the event included the college’s dean, James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D.; David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health; and Jack Payne, Ph.D., UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“In pursuit of our vision of preeminence across our three-part mission, we are truly excited about the addition of this new, state-of-the-art facility to our college and all it will mean to veterinary medical education at the University of Florida,” Lloyd said.