Veterinary students’ views on surgical entrustable professional activities and the impact of COVID-19 on clinical competence development

veterinary and medical education

Jamie-Leigh Thompson

Jill MacKay

Kelly Bowlt-Blacklock


June 22, 2022

Background: The primary purpose of this study was to understand veterinary students’ views on the described key surgical entrustable professional activities (EPAs) and to understand how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their clinical skill and competence development. Methods: Final-year veterinary students at a single institute completed a web-based survey distributed by email. The survey aimed to characterise five constructs regarding EPAs, and a specific five-point Likert-like scale was created asking explicitly worded questions for each construct. Results: One hundred and ten students responded. The cohort agreed that the previously described key surgical EPAs were clinically important and relevant, but over 50% of the respondents felt that they had no substantial experience with them and were not confident or comfortable performing them. Additionally, most students (95%) felt their clinical development was negatively impacted by COVID-19. Conclusions: The results of this study show that the key EPAs proposed are considered important skills by the undergraduate cohort described and that experience levels when entering the final year are lacking, potentially due to reduced exposure to clinical cases influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.