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Bristol Vet School students practice emergency response skills with state-of-the-art patient simulator


From left to right: Vicki Black; Gabriella Di Pol (BVSc 5 student); Holly Atkinson (BVSc 5 student); Sarah O'Shaughnessy Bristol Vet School

Press release issued: 6 September 2021

Bristol Veterinary School students are now able to independently practice emergency-response skills, thanks to a simulated ‘Virtual Patient’ (nicknamed Tilly) and co-created by staff at the University of Bristol and Langford Vets.

Responding to emergency cases is a crucial part of the experience third-year vet students gain, during clinical rotations at Bristol Vet School’s onsite Small Animal Hospital, Langford Vets. One of the UK’s largest and busiest ICU departments, students gain first-rate experience under the direct supervision of specialist vets, to triage, stabilise, investigate and treat each emergency case. Now, thanks to the ‘Virtual Patient’ students can apply these skills by managing a ‘case’ from start to finish completely independently.

Within the simulation lab, students are provided with everything they may need to help stabilise the ‘Virtual Patient’ - from gaining IV access, to performing emergency diagnostics and even giving life-saving therapies. The educational experience was further enhanced when the company CEVA, generously donated state-of-the-art simulation technology: a Laerdal Patient Monitor and SimPad Plus.

The multi-parameter monitor allows the trainer to adjust the simulated patient’s vital parameters remotely, in response to the veterinary student’s interventions, further enhancing the authenticity of the experience.

Bristol Veterinary School Teaching Associate, Sarah O'Shaughnessy, said: “It is amazing to see the vet students put all their years of hard training into action. During the simulation, the students get the opportunity to practice a variety of practical, professional and problem-solving skills that vets must utilise when dealing with real life emergency cases. The addition of the SimMonitor and SimPad has been a game changer – it has helped the safe learning environment of the simulation to become even more immersive.”

Langford Vets Senior Clinician in Internal Medicine, Vicki Black added: “We wanted to create an opportunity for our final year vet students to manage an emergency case of their very own, from start to finish. So, we created a scaled-down veterinary clinic within our Clinical Skills Lab in which students would be presented with a mystery emergency patient – Tilly.”

Staff continue to expand the number of emergency scenarios making the simulation as realistic as possible. The aim is to take the simulation experience even further by incorporating new ideas, making it as high-fidelity as possible and working alongside students to shape an experience that best benefits their learning.

Vicki continued: “Research has repeatedly demonstrated how valuable simulation training can be and so we are excited to be able to provide this valuable educational experience to our vet students. Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. But hopefully, this is just the beginning."

University of Bristol Veterinary Science BVSc5 student, Holly Atkinson added: “It was really good to take on the responsibility of decision making for an emergency case, as with a real patient you would never get this opportunity as a student. It was fun to work together as a team and use our combined problem-solving ability.” 

Further information

Study at Bristol Veterinary School

The University of Bristol Veterinary School offers a range of undergraduate courses including:
The newly launched (September 2019) BVSc Veterinary Medicine: Accelerated Graduate Entry Programme for students with a relevant first degree
The five-year BVSc Veterinary Science degree
BSc Veterinary Nursing and Companion Animal Behaviour
In addition, postgraduate courses including:
The MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conservation;
Continuing professional development courses provided from leading research academics.
Based at Bristol's Langford Campus, Bristol Veterinary School boasts first-class clinical facilities and encompasses a small animal hospital, a dairy farm, diagnostic laboratories, farm animal and small animal practices.

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