Evaluation of the expectations, learning and competencies of surgical skills by undergraduate veterinary students performing canine ovariohysterectomies

K L Bowlt, J K Murray, G L Herbert, P Delisser, V Ford-Fennah, J Murrell, E J Friend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the development of surgical skills of veterinary undergraduates and determine the number of canine ovariohysterectomies required to achieve competency and reduce levels of student concern. This was compared to student expectations and that of employers regarding surgical ability and provision of support to new graduates.

METHODS: A questionnaire regarding surgical concerns was sent to final year veterinary students enrolled within the University of Bristol, UK. A questionnaire was also sent to 200 UK veterinary practices regarding their impressions of surgical competence of new graduates and their provision of supervision. The responses were compared. Eleven additional final year students performed five canine ovariohysterectomies and graded their concerns. The number of supervised canine ovariohysterectomies required until competency was determined.

RESULTS: 80·4% of final year veterinary undergraduates replied that the surgical procedure which they were most concerned about their ability to perform was canine ovariohysterectomy. Students and veterinary practitioners differed in their opinions regarding whether they considered canine ovariohysterectomy to be a "day one skill" and what were desirable levels of supervision. Completing a minimum of four canine ovariohysterectomies led to 81·8% of students being assessed as competent.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: An unrealistically high expectation of competency by students may be a source of stress and concern. Employers should aim to provide hands-on support whilst new graduates complete at least four canine ovariohysterectomies. Postoperative haemorrhage is uncommon but is the main concern for students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-94
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Small Animal Practice
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

© 2011 British Small Animal Veterinary Association.


  • Animals
  • Clinical Competence
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Dogs
  • Education, Veterinary
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy
  • Learning
  • Ovariectomy
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage
  • Questionnaires
  • Students, Medical

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