In April 2014 the Vet School introduced peer support via its Association for Veterinary Students (AVS) reps in 3rd and 4th year, for those entering the 2nd year of the Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVM&S) programme. The session aimed to highlight some of the challenges students may encounter during the transition between pre-clinical and clinical studies and to offer advice and study skill strategies to help.
There is a huge jump from 2nd to 3rd year in BVM&S and many rumours about the volume of workload and difficulty of the course circulate amongst students. The programme content moves from learning about the “normal” functioning of the animal body to starting to explore what happens when things go wrong, with a substantial increase in the amount of material presented.
The session aimed to help address these concerns from a student perspective. Having fourth year students organise the material and third year students on hand to help answer questions made for a very relaxed, informal atmosphere where participants were less intimidated, and more willing to ask questions.
The session ran for the first time in April 2014 and then again in April 2015. Each time we had approximately 80 students in attendance (from a cohort of around 150-160). The sessions opened with a PowerPoint presentation about the structure of the 3rd year course with advice on what is expected of students, including some information on study skills and techniques that may be useful. This was followed by a presentation about clinical Extra Mural Studies (EMS), and how to get the most out of this element of the course. We feel students benefit from this approach as they are hearing from their peers who have already been through the same experiences and can offer tailored advice.
The sessions have received lots of positive feedback and we hope to continue organising the events in the future, hopefully incorporating lecture capture technology so that the sessions can be shared more widely.