An evaluation of veterinary nursing competency and its development in undergraduate training and assessment

Dunne, Karen and Campion, Deirdre (2014) An evaluation of veterinary nursing competency and its development in undergraduate training and assessment. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Veterinary nursing education has moved from a workplace-based and vocational training model to an accredited undergraduate curriculum entry route into a recognized and regulated profession. The concept of competency has been key to this transition. Regulators have identified day one competencies that students must demonstrate proficiency in prior to entry on to the register of veterinary nurses. Despite this emphasis on achieving competency the term itself is poorly understood. It may mean different things to veterinary nursing learners, educators, regulators, colleagues, clients and employers. Without a broadly accepted understanding of veterinary nursing competency it is difficult for educators to define appropriate learning outcomes, align assessments with graduate skills and implement effective learning supports for students. This study will aim to devise a viable definition of veterinary nursing competency. Veterinary nursing undergraduates must develop the clinical skills that they will need to care for their patients. These skills are often complex and require the integration of extensive knowledge with a wide range of psychomotor tasks. There is much published literature on the assessment of competency but very little on the teaching of it, particularly in veterinary nursing education. This study aims to address this gap by evaluating teaching methods specifically designed to support competency development. This will include the use of a customized video clip database to facilitate practical skills training. Appropriate assessment of veterinary nursing competency, beyond the Objective Standardised Clinical Examination (OSCE), will also be explored. This qualitative action research case study will focus on the experiential learning cycle of a cohort of veterinary nursing undergraduates in a blended learning and student-centred programme. Exploration will be in-depth to obtain rich data about the learning experience and the efficacy of teaching supports. Some general conclusions and recommendations for veterinary nursing educators will be drawn.

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