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Clinical Skills Lab: What's the Purpose?

Clinical Skills Lab

When will the Clinical Skills Laboratory be available for student use?

The clinical skills laboratory will be available and staffed with a trained veterinary technician at “non-classroom” times to help answer questions and guide students. During “classroom” times, the clinical techniques laboratory will be available to be used by clinical rotations to evaluate students on relevant skills for each rotation (IV catheter placement for primary care) and by didactic courses to hold “lab” classes (such as the ultrasound lab).

Why do we need a Clinical Skills Laboratory?

Establishing a clinical skills laboratory enables students to practice clinical skills in a less-stressful environment using models instead of live animals. Confidence in technical skills is a major hurdle that students encounter going from the classroom to the clinic and, ultimately, to the real world. The laboratory is designed to give students the opportunity to hone their skills prior to attempting such tasks on patients within a hospital. Newly graduated veterinarians from schools with clinical techniques laboratories report a greater comfort level regarding their ability to place an IV catheter, bandage a limb or hear a heart murmur, to mention a few skills to be included.

Who can use the Clinical Skills Laboratory?

At any point in their curriculum, from freshman to senior year, students will be able to stop in and work with a trained veterinary technician to brush up on the technical skills that are relevant to their current rotation or course work (i.e. suture ties for surgery, blood draws and parasite identification for primary care and internal medicine, and heart and lung sounds while on cardiology). Providing a veterinary technician to teach these techniques will allow the students to learn these skills and voice their concerns without the pressure of having a clinician judging and/or grading their performance.
The clinical skills laboratory will also be available to instructors for teaching and evaluating various technical skills such as suture placement and sterile technique for surgery and/or listening to heart and lung sounds while identifying various abnormalities that can be controlled by the instructor.

Clinical Skills LabWhat will be in the Clinical Skills Laboratory?

The clinical skills laboratory will have animal models to demonstrate and practice life saving CPR. Basic handling and restraint models will be available to help students learn how to safely restrain dogs and cats. The models can also serve as bandaging models, sample collection models, suture models, and endotracheal intubation models. Abdominal palpation models will allow students the opportunity to palpate normal and abnormal abdominal structures and lymph nodes. Models will be available to demonstrate various heart and lung sounds, as well as normal and diseased eyes, ears and mouths. Microscopes and slides of parasites and blood smears will be provided to give students practice identifying intestinal parasites on a fecal examination (a routinely performed test in most small animal practices) and be able to comfortably perform cell identification to aide in diagnosing and determining prognosis of many of their patients.