The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Veterinary Nurses Council has formed a special solution-focused taskforce to consider possible alternative routes for student veterinary nurses to gain their licence to practise qualification and join the Register.
Last month VN Council made the decision to ask all veterinary nursing educators to defer their objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) until the end of June. This decision was made on the basis that holding the OSCEs in their current form would be incompatible with the UK Government’s advice on social distancing in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, as well as to safeguard the health and welfare of students and examiners.
Under the current RCVS Accreditation Framework for veterinary nursing qualifications, all awarding organisations and higher education institutions must include a summative OSCE examination within their programmes. Following the initial Government guidance restricting travel and group gatherings, along with social distancing, VNC reviewed whether there was sufficient evidence to enable assessment via other means in order to allow entry to the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses without completing the OSCE.
Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council, explained: “We have considered a number of alternative methods for veterinary nurses to gain their licence to practise qualifications that does not include undertaking their final OSCE exams. For example, the use of mock exam results. Unfortunately, this evidence demonstrated a wide variation in both content and delivery across centres with some centres not delivering a mock examination at all.
“We also looked at whether students could be allowed to enter the Register based on completion of the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses, along with witness testimony or assessments from clinical coaches at the students’ training practices. VN Council considered the impact of this approach and agreed that this would not only put undue stress and pressure on practice staff and resources during an already very stressful time, but could also introduce an element of bias to the assessment process. It was also acknowledged that the assessment of some skills would require close proximity between student and clinical coach, which should not be encouraged at this time.
“VN Council understands that this is a difficult and frustrating time for our student veterinary nurses. However, we would like to reassure them that we are committed to addressing the situation, whilst still maintaining the integrity of the profession and public confidence in it. As such, we are commissioning a taskforce to explore, consider and determine alternate delivery methods and/or routes to registration.
“As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and we will be drawing on a wide range of educational and clinical expertise to innovate our way out of this problem and develop a method that still ensures our students meet the necessary standards, while keeping everyone safe. We would, of course, welcome any potential ideas from students and the wider profession on how this can be delivered.”
Membership of the taskforce, which will be chaired by Racheal, is currently being put together, and it is expected to report back to VN Council with its ideas by June. If approved, detailed guidance on alternative assessment methods will be shared with all of the VN educators in order for them to be able to deliver these alternative assessment methods in time for student veterinary nurses to qualify and join the Register in September.
Those with any alternative ideas on how the practical assessments can be made should email firstname.lastname@example.org