The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Teaching tools aid students in developing key practical skills

Inexpensive 3D models help undergraduates practise essential surgical procedures.

Low-cost surgical training models have been developed that could play a valuable role in helping veterinary students master essential surgical skills.

Researchers from the surgical team at the at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine’s Hospital for Small Animals developed and tested three-dimensional, low-cost training models to help undergraduate students master some of the core surgical skills they are expected to demonstrate competency in prior to graduation.

The models were developed in response to a lack of practical experience available to students during the Covid-19 pandemic and they could now be incorporated into the teaching curriculum.

Core competencies

Researchers developed their models in response to feedback from students regarding pandemic lockdowns, who said that the associated restrictions had limited their opportunities to gain practical experience and limited their development of core surgical skills.

The models are designed to mimic three of the 13 published core skills that are viewed as being day one competencies – essential for a newly graduated veterinarian.

Students indicated they wanted more experience in the skills for which the models were designed – how to perform a canine castration, repair an eyelid laceration, and remove a skin lump.

Low-cost, easily accessible materials were used to make the models, to ensure they were affordable and reproducible.

The models represent real-life procedures and allow each step to be performed, so that students have a valuable learning experience.

Students who used the models found that their competence in performing the procedures significantly improved within a few attempts.

Almost all said their use had helped to build surgical confidence and reduce stress associated with the required skills. Most said the models were realistic and helpful for their practices.

Details of the research are published in the Veterinary Record. Their development was supported by the University of Edinburgh Principal's Teaching Award Scheme.

Low-cost surgical models can be an invaluable aid for veterinary teaching, and our research shows that undergraduates can gain skills and confidence from hands-on practice with them. In addition, these teaching tools are low-cost and convenient, and reduce the need for cadavers to be used in teaching veterinary medicine.

Jamie-Leigh ThompsonRoyal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Related links

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About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos. 

The School comprises: 

The Roslin Institute 

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems 

The Roslin Innovation Centre 

The Hospital for Small Animals 

Equine Veterinary Services 

Farm Animal Services 

Easter Bush Pathology 

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education 

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.