DOI: 10.3138/jvme-2023-0004 ISSN:

Student and Clinical Educator Perceptions of the Impacts of COVID-19 on Final Year Veterinary Clinical Training in a Distributed Learning Model

Joanne Yi, Cindy Adams, Serge Chalhoub, Sylvia Checkley, Chantal McMillan
  • General Veterinary
  • Education
  • General Medicine

Delivery of the 4th year clinical program at the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) is facilitated through the Distributed Veterinary Learning Community (DVLC) which has underwent major revisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To determine the perceptions of how COVID-19 impacted 4th-year clinical rotations, students ( n = 24) and DVLC practice rotation coordinators (PRCs, n = 23) completed two questionnaires over a 7-month period. The survey consisted of demographic questions, statements ranked on an agreement scale, and open-ended questions. Two-tailed Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and frequency counts were used to analyze their responses over time. Quantitative analysis revealed that 45% students reported concerns for the mental health, 41% for their physical health, 26% for inadequate clinical time, and 14% cover communication that heightened over a 7-month period. No trends in responses were noted with PRCs overtime. Qualitative thematic analysis of students’ responses showed perceived advantages of lower client-induced performance pressure (22%) and longer rotations allowing for increased case responsibility (22%). PRCs felt fulfillment while teaching (50%), enjoyed longer rotations (50%), and used this opportunity to offer future employment opportunities to students (44%). Additionally, there were concerns regarding inadequate clinical time (41%), decreased ability to practice in-person client communication skills (26%), and difficulties enforcing social distancing protocols (43%). Areas of improvement identified from this study include providing clear communication, continued academic support, and normalizing mental healthcare. Continued adaptations to an ever-changing pandemic landscape can help mitigate the negative effects for future outbreaks and novel situations.

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