The final year curriculum of The University of Sydney Veterinary Science degree consists of month-long rotations based entirely in workplace settings. The majority of these placements occur in small- and mixed-animal practice at both intra- and extramural clinics. Students' perceptions of clinic-based learning environments are related to learning outcome quality, and hence to the effectiveness of the final-year curriculum.
The final-year programme has been evaluated using semi-structured interviews, online exit surveys and rotation feedback forms to gather qualitative and quantitative data revealing students' perspectives of the curriculum. Results highlight variation in students' perceptions of clinic-based learning environments and suggest areas for curriculum improvement.
The opportunity to observe and work with a variety of veterinarians in practice, and be encouraged to learn by enthusiastic placement supervisors, is highly valued by final-year students.
Month-long rotations in diverse placements raise a range of educational and personal challenges for students, e.g., varying caseload, financial pressures (94%) and self-confidence (64%).
Students' perspectives at the end of final year reveal potential for improvement in preceding units of study addressing areas such as group work (49%) and clinical skills (37%), while highlighting the value of receiving feedback (84%) and access to on-site learning resources (e.g., a practice library (76%)) during clinic-based learning.
A final-year internship programme of supervised experience in a variety of workplace settings is of value in preparing students for veterinary practice. Exit surveys and interviews revealing students' perspectives of their learning experiences are of benefit in evaluating and improving clinic-based curricula.