Assessing changes in competency of fourth-year veterinary medical students following a defined clinical experience



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The purpose of this study was to measure the competency of problem solving skills of fourth-year veterinary students. The study identified two primary objectives, (a) define clinical competency for fourth-year veterinary medical students, and (b) construct an instrument to assess the student?s level of clinical competency. A faculty advisory panel identified three themes in the development of a definition of clinical competency, (a) competency was situational, (b) competency was described by ability, and (c) the definition of fourth-year student competence was descriptive within the context of primary patient care. The description of competency contributed to the establishment of parameters applied to the rubric. Student self-assessments were taken twice; initially at the beginning of the clinical rotation, and again at the end of the rotation as a post-clinical assessment. The faculty instructor provided a comparison post-clinical assessment to serve as an authentication of the reliability of the instrument. Overall, students qualified themselves to be ?Fully Competent Students? at the beginning of the clinical rotation, and also at the end of the rotation. However, in the disaggregated quantified scores, the student self-assessment peaked at the highest competence level, ?Among The Most Competent Students,? for five descriptors of values and beliefs listed under Responsibility, Professionalism, and Interpersonal Skills. The faculty comparison assessment was in agreement with the student?s qualified description as ?Fully Competent Students? but did not agree with the higher quantified scores posted for values and beliefs. The descriptive statistics of the data reflect that the mean increased between the pre-clinical (M = 8.43, SD = 1.36) and the post-clinical (M = 9.10, SD = 1.32) assessments. The comparison mean for the faculty assessment (M = 9.01, SD = 1.52) was slightly lower than the student post-assessment. The assessment provided evidence supporting a confidence statement that the instrument has the sensitivity to detect changes in skills, and is consistent with research validated measures of problem-solving skills. Faculty authentication provided evidence of intra-rater reliability, while statistical analysis provided evidence that a relationship appears to be present between live-patient animal instruction and the increase in problem-solving competence of fourth-year veterinary students.