A student-led peer assisted learning program, vetPAL, was introduced at Bristol Veterinary School, based on an idea of a final year student. vetPAL involved fifth (final) year students acting as tutors and leading sessions for fourth year students (tutees) in clinical skills and revision (review) topics. The initiative aimed to supplement student learning while also providing tutors with opportunities to further develop a range of skills. All tutors received training and the program was evaluated using questionnaires collected from tutees and tutors after each session. Tutee’s self-rated confidence increased significantly in clinical skills and for revision topics. Advantages of being taught by students rather than staff included the informal atmosphere, willingness to ask questions and the relatability of the tutors. The small group size and the style of learning in the revision sessions (i.e., group work, discussions and interactivity) were additional positive aspects identified by both tutees and tutors. Benefits for tutors included developing their communication and teaching skills. The training sessions were considered key in helping tutors feel prepared to lead sessions, although the most difficult aspects related to a lack of teaching experience and keeping to time. Following the successful pilot of vetPAL, plans are in place to make the program permanent and sustainable, while incorporating necessary changes based on the evaluation and the student leader’s experiences running the program. A vetPAL handbook has been created to facilitate organization of the program for future years.
- near peer-assisted leear peer-assisted learning
- clinical skills
- group learning
- veterinary medical education