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Research comment
Beyond the classroom: insights into the use of virtual simulation in veterinary education
  1. Robin Farrell
  1. School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Ireland
  1. email: robin.farrell{at}

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Veterinary clinical and professional skills education has evolved significantly over the past three decades, incorporating an ever-increasing number of simulation modalities.1,2 There are now many commercial and non-commercial veterinary task trainers, mannequins and simulators available that provide students and practitioners with the opportunity to gain or refresh contextual and procedural knowledge and practice clinical skills.3-5

The use of models and simulation in veterinary education originally arose from a need to support larger numbers of students and address animal welfare concerns. However, a small but growing body of evidence demonstrates improved educational outcomes through the use of simulation.6-10

Virtual simulators are one of the more recent simulation modalities, ranging from responsive environments projected onto a screen (Fig 1 and Fig 2) to virtual and augmented reality applications that use wearable headsets to place a person in a 3D responsive environment (Fig 3).11,12 There are currently several different types of virtual simulators being used within veterinary education,13-17 but, with a few exceptions, there has been a relative lack of research on their usability or the outcomes related to their use.6,18

Fig 1: Virtual clinic simulationMárton Balogh, Veterinary Information Network
Fig 2: Cardiovascular monitoring simulator with a responsive canine mannequinDaniel Fletcher, Cornell University
Fig 3: Canine anatomy virtual reality simulator – user view when wearing the headsetXuanhui Xu, University College Dublin

Despite this lack of research, the current Covid-19 pandemic has brought the use of virtual simulators …

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