Dr Neil Hudson, Senior Veterinary Clinical Lecturer at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Director of the Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medical Education reflects on the benefits of enabling undergraduate students to participate in teaching.
In 2014 we introduced the Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medical Education with the aim of developing a process that formally recognises the important role that students play in teaching and learning processes. While teaching is recognised as an essential graduate attribute by the General Medical Council (GMC), this is not yet the case in veterinary medicine and the Certificate is believed to be the first of its kind in the veterinary sector. The Certificate facilitates educational skills development through Peer Assisted Learning and other teaching activities and enhances employability skills amongst graduates.
The programme started in 2014 and there are now 115 students enrolled with the first cohort due to successfully complete their Certificate in May 2017. Nine of these are taking their training a step further and embarking on applying for Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy status under the mentorship of the Certificate Programme.
Students have helped devise and been involved in various activities as part of their Certificate, including helping fellow students with Peer-assisted learning activities, charitable work such as Fostering Compassion and helping homeless people with their pets.
One of our final year students, Lauren Krueger, is thought to be the first undergraduate vet student in the UK and in any discipline in Scotland to receive an Associate Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her contribution to education and learning in vet medicine.
I am really pleased to receive this fellowship. I’m interested in utilising my degree in an educational or research-based capacity and the experience gained through this certificate has helped transform me into a more effective and efficient educator capable of instruction both within and outside of the veterinary profession.
Lauren Krueger Veterinary Medical Education Certificate undergraduate student
One strand of the Certificate involves the opportunity for veterinary students to become involved in outreach workshops and school visits to foster the link with young people aspiring to enter Higher Education. Lauren and her fellow students have been visiting local schools to boost their teaching skills and inspire pupils to consider scientific careers. Some of the visits have involved bringing a staff dog called Juno into class to allow pupils to learn more about caring for canine patients.
“We are really excited about engaging with this initiative as well as the possibilities for further collaboration. It embodies the sort of partnership working that Curriculum for Excellence is looking to embed in schools as a means of developing pupils’ skills for life, work and learning.”
David Russell, Liberton Deputy Headteacher
The certificate has had a significant impact on engagement, in the first year of running the programme, 26 of our students have been involved in a total of 10 outreach educational activities, with exposure to over 900 school pupils. The number of activities has increased and the reach is not just within Edinburgh and the Lothians but some of our students have done similar activities in their previous schools, including further afield in Scotland, England and even Hong Kong and Alaska!
“It is the perfect opportunity to promote the importance of science to young people and encourage them to consider studying it in higher education. We are so lucky to have such great lecturers at the Vet School who inspire us within the field and I felt very lucky that I had been given this opportunity to impart this to young students.”
Alice Lowry, final year student
It is recognised that recruitment of graduates into academic medicine is an area of concern and by encouraging students to develop their teaching skills, the certificate not only recognises the important role that students play in teaching and learning processes but also helps to increase engagement in academic medicine, something that will provide long term benefit to the healthcare professions.
“Through this programme our students have been fantastic ambassadors and inspirational role models. Truly, they have been partners in education.”
Dr Neil Hudson