Assessment of clinical reasoning skills in veterinary students prior to and after the clinical year of training.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of various clinical tracks within the veterinary medical clinical curriculum at Texas A&M University on clinical diagnostic proficiency as determined by pre- and post-training assessment. We expected that the clinical track chosen by the student would impact their measured outcome with bias toward higher scores in their chosen field. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. STUDY POPULATION: 32 students from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. PROCEDURES: By use of standardized, written case scenarios, clinical reasoning was assessed twice: once prior to the clinical (fourth) year of the curriculum and again at completion of the clinical year. Students demonstrated their abilities to collect and organize appropriate clinical data (history, physical examination, and laboratory findings), determine clinical diagnoses, and formulate and implement acceptable treatment modalities. Data from clinical assessments were compared for a given cohort and correlated with other measures (eg, grades, standardized test scores, and species-specific curricular track). RESULTS: Differences were detected in clinical diagnostic proficiency among students in different clinical tracks and for different species groups in the case scenarios. Tracking by species group in the clinical veterinary curriculum appeared to affect development of clinical reasoning and resulted in differential proficiency among cases for differing species groups. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Differences in clinical experiences between small animal tracks and all other track opportunities (large animal, mixed animal, and alternative) influenced the development of clinical proficiency in fourth-year veterinary students during their clinical training period.