Background To improve bovine transrectal palpation (TRP) and pregnancy diagnosis (PD) training, the effect of a high-intensity one-week training programme for veterinary elective students (N=59) with an interest in production animal practice was evaluated.
Methods Training consisted of exposure to rectal examination simulators, abattoir organs, theory materials and live cow PDs supervised by experienced large animal practitioners. Palpation skills were assessed before and after training using a validated TRP Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in non-pregnant cows. Each student then performed PDs (n=12) on cows of known pregnancy status. Students’ PD accuracy was measured as sensitivity and specificity, being respectively defined as the proportion of pregnant and non-pregnant cows correctly identified.
Results Students’ scores improved from the first to the second OSCE (P=0.03), mostly as a result of improved ability to identify uterine symmetry/asymmetry and the presence/absence of a corpus luteum on the right ovary (P<0.01 and P=0.03, respectively). Overall student sensitivity and specificity of PD were 89.1 per cent (95 per cent CI 78.1–92.2 per cent) and 67.7 per cent (95 per cent CI 60.1–74.5 per cent), respectively.
Conclusion This prospective cohort study describes a strategy to improve students’ TRP skills with the potential to reduce training time and animal use at teaching institutions by outsourcing student training to private practitioners.
- farm animals
- preclinical education
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Contributors AA planned and executed the study, secured funding, collected the data, wrote and submitted the manuscript. CM and MLL planned and executed the study, and edited the manuscript before submission. GTF planned the statistical design of the study, analysed the data and edited the manuscript before submission. WK and HB assisted with the study design and edited the manuscript before submission. DEH planned and executed the study, collected the data and edited the manuscript before submission.
Funding The study was financially supported by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA, A0Y104), South Africa, and Zoetis South Africa (sponsorship). This study was further funded through a University of Pretoria’s Research Development Programme (RDP) grant (A1A488).
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval This study was approved by the Animal Ethics and Research Committee of the University of Pretoria (project number SOP038-18). No cow was palpated more than three times in one session at any stage during the experiment, and cows in the commercial herd were only palpated on one of the two assessment days.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.
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