Next month [November 2021] the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) will be hosting a stakeholder discussion with veterinary educators, employers, veterinary student and new graduate representatives, and placement providers to discuss the future of Extra-Mural Studies for veterinary students.
Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) are considered an important element of undergraduate veterinary education, with both the pre-clinical and clinical placements providing veterinary students with an opportunity to gain real-life work experience that complements and consolidates their university-based studies.
However, as explored during the Vet Futures-inspired Graduate Outcomes project, there are a number of challenges facing students, veterinary schools and placement providers in terms of being able to offer and implement EMS placements. These pressures have recently been exacerbated by a number of factors, including the pandemic and the current workforce-related issues affecting the veterinary professions.
The meeting takes place on Monday 22 November at the Royal College of Surgeons and more than 80 representatives have been invited to participate from student groups, vet schools, employers, placement providers, veterinary representative organisations and new graduates.
Dr Linda Prescott-Clements, RCVS Director of Education, commented: “The veterinary education landscape is changing – both as a result of Covid but also increasing student numbers, new vet schools being established and an increasing emphasis on clinical teaching in a first-opinion, general practice context. These factors are all likely to increase pressure on the current system with the potential for increasing demand for EMS coinciding with reduced availability. For this reason, we are starting to look further ahead into the future of EMS so that we can be prepared for all eventualities.
“This stakeholder meeting will bring all those in the sector together to discuss new ideas around longer-term plans for EMS, so that we can continue to support future students in obtaining this vital experience in the workplace before they graduate.”
Alongside this future-focused event, the RCVS has recently been taking forward a number of initiatives to help address some of the challenges associated with the current EMS system in the short-to-medium term. This includes the development of joint guidance from the RCVS, the Veterinary Schools Council, British Veterinary Association, Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons and Association of Veterinary Students on the continued provision of EMS placements. The RCVS has also committed to developing a national EMS booking database that will help widen access to placements by providing students with, for example, information on accommodation and public transport links and also enable providers and students to manage expectations around the placements in advance.
A full report will be published on the RCVS website (www.rcvs.org.uk) shortly after the event.