College Launches New Enhanced Clinical Practicum Program

MSU CVM has long prided itself on the outstanding curriculum provided its students, which is routinely praised for preparing them to be practice-ready on day one. And now, College leaders are pleased to announce the addition of a new program created to further prepare our students as well as to meet some key demands within the veterinary profession.

Officially designated the enhanced clinical practicum program (ECP), this new rotation will include two four-week core clinical practice experiences to third- and fourth-year veterinary students at the College. It will provide opportunities for them to enrich their clinical skills in a private setting, while enhancing other skills such as client communications and business management.

According to MSU CVM Professor and Beef Extension Veterinarian Dr. Carla Huston, director of the ECP program, with a more well-rounded and comprehensive education involving real-world veterinary practice experience, students will be even better prepared as new graduates.“There is nothing that can replace actual experience in the field,” Dr. Huston said. “It’s been said many times, but actually walking in someone’s shoes is the only real way to fully understand and appreciate what they do. In addition, knowing what to expect may also lead to less stress and anxiety for new grads.”

Dr. Huston noted the ECP program will also allow MSU CVM to expand its professional program by increasing class size without an additional burden on faculty and facility resources.The program is slated to begin in 2023 with the class of 2025—this year’s incoming class. “We are currently in the pilot stage, enrolling clinics and students to help establish and evaluate program standards,” said Dr. Huston. “We will use the next two years to refine program policies and requirements before it becomes a mandatory component of our veterinary curriculum.”

There are currently 12 practices enrolled in the pilot program, 10 of which are in Mississippi. Most of the practices are mixed animal practices, with the College’s intentions being to increase the awareness of rural veterinary practice. Over the next year, plans are to expand into states where the CVM has developed professional veterinary education relationships such as West Virginia, South Carolina, and Arkansas, as well as to increase the number of participating small animal practices.

Dr. Huston said criteria for practice participation is based upon a clinic’s ability to provide a safe and adequate learning experience for the students according to American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education accreditation standards, and the practice owner(s)’/veterinarian(s)’ willingness and ability to devote time and resources to student learning objectives. She noted that most situations will require a multi-doctor practice to meet the time and caseload necessary to successfully train the assigned student; however, any practice meeting the standards with the ability to mentor and educate students will be considered.

According to MSU CVM Dean Dr. Kent Hoblet, several colleges in the US have adopted this type of distributive veterinary clinical education model, which utilizes off-campus clinical sites in place of a veterinary teaching hospital.“What is unique about the MSU CVM model is that we will be utilizing a hybrid distributive program through the enhanced clinical practicums, combining our traditional DVM clinical rotations with the new off-site practicums,” Dr. Hoblet said. “This will give our students the best of both worlds by combining our rigorous, on-site training with highly trained and specialized faculty and facilities with the practical and real-world education from the private veterinary practice setting.”

For this new component of the curriculum, students will be matched with practices based on their educational goals and interests, as well as the location of the practice. They will be evaluated in three main categories: professionalism and interpersonal skills, knowledge, and clinical skills.