Evaluation of veterinary students’ confidence and competence with surgical entrustable professional activities after repeated use of low fidelity training models

veterinary and medical education

Jamie Leigh-Thompson

Jill MacKay

Kelly Bowlt-Blacklock


February 3, 2023

Background: This study aimed to evaluate whether low-fidelity surgical training models increased veterinary students’ surgical confidence and com- petence and decreased procedural stress related to core surgical entrustable professional activities (EPAs). Methods: Final-year veterinary students repeatedly performed one of three surgical EPAs on a low-fidelity surgical training model (canine castration, subcutaneous lump removal and eyelid laceration repair) and completed a survey at set time points. In addition, a grading rubric was used to assess participants’ competence in performing the assigned EPA at two different time points. Survey results and competency gradings were compiled and analysed. Results: Students’ self-assessed confidence significantly increased, and stress significantly decreased, between assessment points on all three EPA surgical training models. Graded competence significantly improved between the assessment points on all training models, and most students deemed the models to be realistic and helpful for student practices. Limitations: Limitations relate to the study involving a single cohort from a single institute and the reliance on student self-assessment. Conclusions: Repeated exposure to low-fidelity surgical training models increased final-year students’ surgical confidence and competence and reduced procedural stress related to three key surgical EPAs. Assessment of competence using a grading rubric was successful and could be incorporated into a competence-based veterinary education assessment framework to allow screening of competence prior to graduation.