Veterinary faculties proceed to organize college students to enter occupation

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Dr. Sandra Faeh, AVMA vice president and partner in four small animal clinics in Illinois, would have no hesitation in hiring a veterinary school graduate in 2021.

“The schools have done an excellent job,” said Dr. Faeh. “These students will be better prepared in different ways.”

Dr. Amanda Fales-Williams (center), professor and chair of veterinary pathology at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is attending a lab with sophomore veterinary students. (Photo by David Gieseke / Iowa State University)

Despite training amid a pandemic that has resulted in more virtual classes and curriculum changes due to public health interventions, the majority of students have learned the same skills as previous classes, according to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Academic Committee on Affairs, a working group that dealt specifically with the subject. The group has done some analysis to see if the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the quality of veterinary training. According to an AAVMC newsletter, pandemic-era veterinary graduates are well educated.

AVMA also fully supports the class of 2021. The association issued a statement praising and congratulating the future graduates.

“AVMA congratulates the class of 2021,” the statement said. “We are confident that these new graduates are ready to begin their careers. By the time they completed their education during the COVID-19 pandemic, they demonstrated exceptional resilience and adaptability that will serve them well in their future endeavors. We also applaud the administrators, faculties and staff of the Veterinary College who, in the face of unprecedented challenges, have worked tirelessly to ensure that their students receive the excellent education expected by the AVMA Council on Education-accredited colleges. We have great pleasure in welcoming the Class of 2021 to the noble and essential profession of veterinary medicine. We are proud and honored to have them as colleagues. “

Student trust

Dr. Nicholas Frank, assistant dean for academic affairs at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said many veterinary students were nervous about the graduation.

“Even under normal circumstances, many students become concerned about their skills as they near the end of their education and look for jobs,” he said. “The general stress of the pandemic is likely to make this worse, and it is understandable that you have concerns.”

Dr. Frank, chairman of the AAVMC Academic Affairs Committee (2021-22), said many employers expect to provide further guidance to new graduates. He said to focus on soliciting feedback and asking for support as key strategies for success in any setting.

“You saw the importance of practicing team-based veterinary medicine during the pandemic and the benefits of having a strong community. So keep that in mind when you take the next step,” he tells fourth-year students.

Dr. Jared Danielson, assistant dean for academic and student affairs at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said students are still learning the skills they need.

“We have a set of graduation requirements based on the accreditation and the clinical skills they need to demonstrate,” said Dr. Danielson, Chair of the AAVMC Academic Affairs Committee (2019-20). “We haven’t changed those things and our students are fine.”

Dr. Anne Barger, clinical professor of clinical veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, said she was behind the college’s curriculum.

“The students are still in the clinic doing clinical rotations,” she said. “When they’re ready to graduate, we’ll make sure they’re ready. I don’t think a university will let a student through without being confident (about the student’s skills). … Our fourth year students are in the clinics, gaining all the experience they would normally have, but in a smaller group, including long-distance rounds, but they still operate and take care of patients. “

Veterinary colleges have used many tools to adapt during the pandemic, such as: B. Investing in various lecture capture systems, introducing a hybrid curriculum that divides students into smaller groups for personal learning and clinical training, and using online discussion forums to engage students.

Hire new graduates

Dr. Jodi A. Korich, assistant dean of education at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and chair of the AAVMC Academic Affairs Committee 2020-21, said the employer’s concerns about hiring new graduates were unfounded.

“In my personal experience, student exam performance has actually improved, and our fourth-year students for clinical rotations actually outperform previous cohorts,” she said. “Veterinary students are intelligent and resourceful. You worked very hard to get into veterinary school and I believe the same work ethic and drive will lead you successfully through the pandemic. Veterinary students trained during the pandemic will continue to be well prepared after graduation, but will also have acquired strong resilience skills. “

Dr. Danielson agrees. He said the pandemic could prepare new graduates even better for career entry.

“This whole pandemic and everyone’s reaction has been an experience and experience for everyone, and that includes our students,” he said. “If I were an employer and I was able to get a great student out of this class, I’d jump on it. I would know that I have someone who can adapt well and that is what you want from a co-worker. I know what i’m getting. “

Dr.  Yuki Nakayama (right) teaches veterinary studentsDr. Yuki Nakayama (right) teaches veterinary students at Spay / Neuter Clinic from Luke and Lily Lerner at Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center on November 17, 2020. (Photo by Alonso Nichols / Tufts University)

What’s coming?

While there have been improvements in several areas, some students who are just beginning their veterinary training are also concerned.

Dr. Barger spoke to some who mentioned being nervous, but she said they are adjusting.

“I think they’ll feel better when they’re in the clinic and it starts to click together,” she said. “I was overwhelmed by how patient and resilient our students were. There is a feeling that we are all in it together. Your commitment to this profession is inspiring. They are ready to do whatever it takes to make this happen, as are our faculty and staff. It is an amazing time for our profession. “