Preparedness for Veterinary Clinical Training

Alyssa Mages, CVT, Empowering Veterinary Teams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

ArticleLast Updated May 20242 min read
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In the Literature

Routh J, Paramasivam SJ, Cockcroft P, et al. Clinical supervisors’ and students’ perspectives on preparedness for veterinary workplace clinical training: an international study. Vet Rec. 2023;193(10):e3504. doi:10.1002/vetr.3504


The Research …

Clinical training in the veterinary practice setting can result in a variety of clinical and interpersonal challenges.

In this study, veterinary students graduating within 12 to 18 months (n = 657) and veterinary school clinical supervisors (n = 244) were surveyed regarding the readiness of students for clinical training in the practice setting. Ninety-one preparedness characteristics were assessed. Each participant was randomly assigned 50 pairs of preparedness characteristics and asked to select which characteristic in each pair they believed to be more important for training.

Preparedness characteristics ranked most important by veterinary students included honesty, integrity, and dependability; awareness that perfection is not expected and failure or mistakes are likely and part of the learning process; resilience in the face of failure, low-level stress, and workplace pressure; client communication skills; and willingness to attempt new skills with appropriate support.

Preparedness characteristics ranked most important by clinical supervisors included honesty, integrity, and dependability; logical independent thought processes and sensible attempts at reasoning; awareness that being proactive, enthusiastic, competent, and confident can provide workplace opportunities; awareness that perfection is not expected and failure or mistakes are likely and part of the learning process; and receptivity to feedback, including critical or constructive feedback.


… The Takeaways

Key pearls to put into practice:

  • Students and clinical supervisors placed differing emphasis on the importance of clinical versus nonclinical skills, with supervisors placing relatively greater emphasis on clinical skills; however, concepts associated with psychological safety (eg, perfection is not expected and failure or mistakes are likely and part of the learning process) were included in the top 5 characteristics for both groups.

  • Although awareness of how students learn was ranked with medium importance in both groups, consideration of how a student learns can help with accurate assessment of comprehension and  application of knowledge.1

  • Understanding roles and responsibilities was not ranked high in either group, but understanding the responsibilities of various team members (eg, credentialed veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, customer service representatives) is important for an effective and efficient practice.2

  • Further exploration of the experiences of veterinary technician and veterinary assistant students could help with overall understanding of the functionality and application of clinical training in the practice setting.