The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council has approved an alternative assessment method for those awarding organisations and universities who are unable to provide objectively-structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) under the current social distancing guidelines.
VN Council set up a special OSCE Taskforce in April this year to develop and draw up proposals for a safe yet comprehensive alternative to the OSCEs. This was due to the fact that the exams, which student veterinary nurses need to pass to get their qualifications and join the Register, were being cancelled on the grounds that they could not comply with the social distancing guidelines and were therefore unsafe for students and examiners.
While some awarding organisations and universities have since developed methods of safely holding their OSCEs within social distancing guidelines, others have had to cancel the OSCEs indefinitely on the grounds it would not be safe or practical to hold them.
In response, the Taskforce developed a new ‘Patient-based Assessment’ (PBA) method, which was approved by VN Council at its meeting on Wednesday 17 June, which will allow student veterinary nurses to prove they meet the Day One Competences and Skills, meaning they are eligible to join the Register as fully qualified veterinary nurses.
Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council, explains: “After much hard work, deliberation and consideration over a number of different options, we have developed an alternative assessment method for student veterinary nurses that is safe and complies with the social distancing guidelines, while still upholding our standards and ensuring student veterinary nurses are competent to join the Register.
“The alternative, called a Patient-based Assessment, will involve building up a small portfolio of case reports and supporting evidence to prove how those who use this assessment method meet the Day One Competences and Skills. Once this has been signed-off and submitted, students using this assessment method will undertake a detailed and structured discussion about their involvement with the cases they have described.
“There will be two examiners present for the interview, however, students will only have to discuss their cases with one of them. The outcome of the discussion will determine whether students can be awarded their licence to practise qualification and subsequently apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses.”
The alternative assessment method may not be relevant to all student veterinary nurses as they may have an awarding body or university that has decided it can safely hold its OSCEs under the current conditions, or they may be training through the apprenticeship route. Those who are unsure whether this assessment method is applicable to them should contact their educational establishment for further advice and clarification.
Racheal added: “We recognise the difficulties student veterinary nurses have faced and that this has been an unsettling time, so we are pleased that the taskforce and VN Council has come together to develop a workable and deliverable alternative.”
A detailed handbook containing further information about the criteria and process for the Patient-based Assessment has been published on the RCVS website at www.rcvs.org.uk/document-library/veterinary-nurse-patient-based-assessment-student-handbook/. It is recommended all student veterinary nurses read this to get a full understanding of how the assessment method will work. The RCVS Veterinary Nursing Department can also be contacted on VNPBA@rcvs.org.uk