What began with the world’s first robotic rescue dog for medical training is evolving into a new teaching paradigm in veterinary medicine. Simulator-based training of students at Vetmeduni Vienna has been part of the curriculum since 2012. The Skills Lab is a simulated veterinary practice in which students have the chance to train in a variety of veterinary interventions in a near-realistic setup on animal dummies.
Simulations like this have been used to teach human doctors for decades. The idea is to bridge pre-clinical learning and actual clinical experience, letting students practice applying what they’ve learned in a safe setting before the stakes get high.
A study of the effectiveness of the simulator was based on recordings of the students’ heart rate and salivary cortisol concentration during the training sessions and tests. The results of that work were published recently in the scientific journal, Reproduction in Domestic Animals.
The results from these studies are encouraging and progressive, and we hope that the curriculum will be adopted by other institutions.
Another topic we hope will be covered more progressively with veterinary students is the issue of horse slaughter. Far too often we hear from veterinarians who are unfamiliar with food safety standards, the inhumanity of transport, and drug prohibitions in horses sent to slaughter. Instead, many equine veterinarians often let their clients’ opinion and prejudice determine whether they take a public stance on slaughter. Respect and integrity shape the public perception of veterinarians – please know that in Canada, 64% of Canadians polled are opposed to horse slaughter.