Approaches to veterinary education – tracking versus a final year broad clinical experience. Part two: instilled values
This is the second of two papers that the authors have written on this subject, and together they describe the results of the first major study of the outcomes of the two general approaches to the clinical training of veterinary students. One approach provides students with a broad experience with multiple species and the other provides them with an in-depth experience with just the species that they intend to work with in practice upon graduation (the latter is termed ‘tracking’, i.e. students follow a course of study along a particular specialised ‘track’). This study obtained extensive feedback from the graduates of two schools, each of which was representative of one of the two approaches to clinical education. A total of 1,714 students took part in a survey in which they were asked to provide information about their career paths, their professional satisfaction, and their assessment of their training, especially in comparative veterinary medicine. They were also asked to say whether or not they would have preferred a different kind of training and who they would be most likely to hire as an associate: a tracking graduate or one who had received a broad-based education. The studies show that the several concerns that have been verbalised about tracking appear to be invalid. Upon graduation more than 90%of veterinary practitioners practice in quite a narrow area of veterinary medicine. We must, therefore, consider what benefits are gained from providing the typical very general preclinical education and offering students clinical training in animals with which they do not intend to practice upon graduation.