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osu cvm clinical skills lab

Practice Makes Perfect: New clinical skills curriculum gives students more preparation

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Media Contact: Taylor Bacon | Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator | 405-744-6728 |

In 2021, Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty joined together to create the clinical skills lab curriculum.

The curriculum focuses on the growth of clinical reasoning, communications and technical skills necessary for the development and training of students. It will fulfill the needs of technical skills and training.

Students can study important cattle skills by using this life size teaching component.
Students can study important cattle skills by using this life size teaching component.

After a curriculum review, faculty and staff identified areas associated with skills, knowledge and other attributes where improvements could be implemented. The clinical skills lab was crafted to cover areas such as nutrition, emergency and critical care services, exotic care, dentistry and professional care.

Animal restraint and handling, suturing, gowning, gloving, spaying and neutering, blood withdrawals, ultrasound, dentistry and emergency CPR are among new curriculum pieces taught in the lab. This allows students to perform these practices before working with live animals.

Students can practice a wide range of techniques by using models and simulators. They can also practice intubation on CPR models, identify surgical instruments, practice suturing techniques and simulated emergency procedures with computer simulated responses.

“I feel strongly that an integrated program allowing students to build practice will assist the CVM to prepare more confident and competent students,” said Dr. Jill Akkerman, clinical skills lab director.

Program implementation started in the fall of 2023 with the newly revised teaching plan. A cohesive and well-planned course is vital to the program’s success.

“It is expected that students will benefit from the exposure and practice they receive in the lab,” Akkerman said.

The adoption of new models and creation of simulations will be used to increase students’ exposure to vital techniques. In addition to the lab, students can utilize a room that is open 24/7 to practice skills at their convenience.

Akkerman said the significant gift from Philip Holmes, in honor of his father, Dr. Donald Holmes, helped make the clinical skills lab a reality and will be named in his honor.

As described by his peers, Dr. Holmes was a pioneer with a passion for veterinary medicine. An Oklahoma native, Holmes earned his DVM in 1954.

Shortly after graduating, he was drafted into the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant, receiving a letter of commendation. Once stationed at Letterman Army Hospital, Holmes was the first veterinarian to hold the position of chief of the experimental animal laboratory. As chief, Holmes was responsible for establishing the hospital’s surgical research unit.

Once discharged from the Army, Holmes received his master’s degree in veterinary pathology from OSU in 1962. Upon graduation, Holmes worked as the first lab animal veterinarian at the Federal Aviation Agency’s Civil Aeromedical Research Institute in Oklahoma City.

Holmes has an extensive list of veterinarian accolades. Holmes’s son, Phillip, knew he wanted to do something in honor of his father.

“After our father’s passing, the family agreed there should be a meaningful gesture benefiting the College of Veterinary Medicine in his honor,” Phillip Holmes said.

Phillip expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to provide a gift such as this to OSU CVM. He said the project fit perfectly with their contribution goals given that his father was a pioneer in the field of laboratory animal research.

Students practice cat restraints during their clinical skills lab class.
Students practice cat restraints during their clinical skills lab class.

“The gift for the clinical skills lab is something I am very grateful for,” said Dr. Carlos Risco, dean of OSU CVM. “It has elevated the learning experience for our students and provided them with hands-on experience to help them better prepare for clinical training in their fourth year.”

Phillip said it is his family’s hope that by building the new clinical skills lab, OSU CVM will become even more competitive in attracting prospective CVM students.

Dedication and collaboration from faculty, staff and alumni allowed improvements for an important teaching component. The clinical skills lab curriculum will be evaluated each year to ensure the success of students.

“The clinical skills lab is an important addition to the college,” said Dr. Carlos Risco, dean of the OSU CVM. “The skills our students will gain will play a vital role in their education and path to becoming practice-ready veterinarians upon graduation.”

Photo By: Taylor Bacon

Story By: Kinsey Reed | Vet Cetera Magazine

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