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Authors: Al Sattar, Abdullah
Keywords: Work-based learning, veterinary students, Opportunities, Challenges
Issue Date: Jun-2020
Publisher: Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Chattogram-4225, Bangladesh
Abstract: A work-based learning (WBL) programme, typically known as the internship programme, is an integral part of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) curriculum in Bangladesh. It mostly refers to external work-placements undertaken by final year DVM students away from the university, rather than clinical rotations in the veterinary teaching hospital or as part of a formalized distributed model curriculum. Work-based learning provides relevant contemporary experience of working environments and helps prepare veterinary students for a range of careers. It has many potential benefits for students including developing invaluable skills (clinical, production, personal, cultural and professional) and providing a greater awareness of the profession and future employment opportunities. Since the WBL programme was introduced to the DVM curriculum at CVASU in 1995-96, there has been no systematic scientific evaluation undertaken to check the effectiveness. The current study is the first in-depth and instructive research work and was conducted in 2019-2020 with the aim of optimizing the WBL programme at CVASU, as well as all veterinary institutions in Bangladesh, by evaluating the existing programme and identifying the benefits, challenges, options and perspectives of all relevant stakeholders. A comprehensive online survey was conducted on the final year DVM students of CVASU who had recently successfully completed their WBL (N=54). Students were asked to rate whether there had been sufficient opportunities for a diverse range of activities during clinical, production, and laboratory placements. They were also asked to comment on the benefits of the WBL programme and the challenges encountered when at real work placements. A thorough analysis of the survey findings identified several substantial factors affecting students’ activities and opportunities, which were investigated in greater detail in four separate focus group discussion with students (N=7), graduates (N=6), faculty members (N=7) and placement providers (N=8) from diverse professions. Notable among the overall results was that students had adequate opportunities on most of the essential and fundamental practices (e.g. opportunities to observe, assist and directly handle clinical cases, communicate with the patient owners, learning diagnostic and treatment procedures in field level, etc.) resulting from the conscientious and unwavering endeavors of the students and sincere collaboration of the placement providers; although they did not have the opportunity to practice properly in some areas, such as pet animal xvi reproductive disease, post-mortem of pet and farm animals, and involvement in laboratory activities. In spite of the fact that the students were pleased with the conducive learning environment at most placements and the guidance and supervisions of the placement providers, some issues related to the time designated for certain placements. The top skills learned included diagnosis, communication and handling patients while more surgical experience was considered desirable. Apart from these, accommodation and travel were identified as the most challenging issues for the students. The focus groups discussions were very constructive and helpful in identifying ways to make the WBL more efficient, productive and precise. In addition to emphasizing the need to select more potential workplaces at home and abroad, and ensure students have sufficient opportunities to practice all required skills, one of the priorities of the focus group discussions was to build effective, strong and long-lasting relations between the university and the placement providers. Indeed, the profoundly compelling and effective outcomes obtained in this study will make the WBL of CVASU and other veterinary institutions in Bangladesh more constructive and dynamic, as well as create more opportunities for students to accumulate the knowledge, skills and aptitudes they need to properly prepare themselves before entering the professional career.
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