Simulation Training in Equine Health Education
In North Carolina State University’s strategic plan 2011-2020, Goal #1 was to “enhance the success of our students through educational innovation.” The prioritization of this goal was reiterated in the Strategic Plans from both CALS and the CVM and can be summarized as a desire of both colleges to prepare students for success through improved teaching and an innovative approach to education. The equine faculty at NC State believe that a more integrated approach to equine health education between CALS and CVM students through the use of common teaching tools, the practice of applied physical and critical thinking skills and more opportunities for peer- and near-peer assisted learning, will provide truly transformative educational experiences for our students. To achieve this educational innovation, our team chose to focus on development of two types of simulators that we will integrate into the equine curriculum of both CALS and the CVM.
The Physical Horse Simulator
The first simulator we propose to use is the physical horse simulator (PHS) from Veterinary Simulator Industries (vetsimulators.net). This life-sized equine model comes with an inflatable GI tract, replica internal organs (spleen, kidney) and a palpable reproductive tract. Within the veterinary curriculum, the PHS will be used to teach veterinary students clinical skills such as gastrointestinal and reproductive palpation, abdominocentesis, colic diagnosis (GI parts are moveable and inflatable), uterine biopsy/culture and artificial insemination (Read 2013). The PHS will serve not only as an instructional tool, but also a method of testing the evolution of students’ psychomotor skills, from reproductive to productive (Acton 2010). The PHS will also be used to facilitate student experience in clinical-scenarios using both individual and collaborative formats. These scenarios are an excellent way to educate and test students who have already achieved the technical competence of familiarity and are ready to move on to the simulated environment (technical competence), prior to skills assessment on a live patient (procedural competence). The PHS will also assist in mock-scenarios in which instructors or peers act as clients, in order for students to practice realistic aspects of client communication.
Within the equine science curriculum, the PHS will provide undergraduate students with 3D visualization of anatomy, aid discussions of physiology and nutrition and help teach reproductive management. Furthermore, we also propose to use the simulator during a collaborative, case-based, classroom experience between graduate veterinary (DVM) students and undergraduate equine science students. These scenarios will focus on practical problems of equine health or management that require collaborative problem solving of equine health and industry professionals (i.e. veterinarians, nutrition specialist, stable manager, etc.). This near-peer learning experience will begin as a CVM selective, which would overlap with the last few days of the undergraduate school calendar, with the potential to develop into a semester long course.
The second simulation experience we plan to introduce will be a website with portals designed for specific student (and public) audiences. We are proposing to call this website, ncstatehorse.com. The online site will provide students with a wealth of educational health resources that are centered on practical issues of equine behavior, performance, management, nutrition, preventative health and wellness and primary care medicine. This information will be available in the form of case-scenarios designed to supplement the veterinary and equine science curricula offered by CVM and CALS, respectively. The graphics, video clips and case study formats will actively engage students in the learning process and provide an alternative to the traditional lecture/paper based learning method. The content of the site will be researched and written by an animal science master’s student whose committee will be co-chaired by the PI’s on this proposal. Personnel funds will also be allocated for a summer veterinary student and a part-time technician who is familiar with horses (see budget justification).
We will work with key support personnel within the CVM Educational Support Services to create a website that is visually appealing, easily navigable and truly innovative in terms of content and design. Primary and secondary avatars will be created so that students of varying knowledge and skills levels can play different roles for different cases and can interact with a variety of clients. Equine case-scenarios will address not only fact and knowledge-based material, but other issues including financial, ethical and social concerns. Case-scenarios will cover issues of both domestic and international equine health in order to highlight the global role that equine health professionals play in disease research, management and prevention.