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Unit information: Small animal practice 1 in 2021/22

Unit name Small animal practice 1
Unit code VETSM0052
Credit points 70
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Miss. Maunder
Open unit status Not open



Small Animal Practice 2

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will develop students’ clinical skills in small animal medicine and allied fields through exposure to clinical cases in a specialist veterinary hospital. In this unit students will rotate through 5 specialities that are allied to small animal medicine: internal medicine; cardiology; anaesthesia; intensive care medicine (ICU) and emergency medicine.

In order to maximise case exposure a single student is allocated at any one time per specialism. Students will spend a total of 4 weeks on each speciality. The rotations are split into 2 blocks. The first block will provide a period for assessment for learning and will consist of rotations of 2 weeks duration. The second block will provide a period for assessment of learning and will consist of rotations of 2 weeks duration. The order of the rotations is designed to spread the workload over the course of the year and balance night and weekend work. For this reason, specialities from Unit One will be intermingled with specialities from Unit Two. Hence this unit will run for 12 months to allow each student to complete all 5 specialisms within this unit.

The aim of this programme is that students will consolidate and build upon existing clinical knowledge and skills from their UG programme, and prior professional practice (for example the RCVS Professional Development Phase) in small animal medical subjects. The consolidation is necessary for them to maintain their knowledge and skillset. In order to ensure that both consolidation and the learning of new skills occurs students will need a high level of exposure to clinical cases. This will be achieved through full time immersion in clinical rotations. When all compulsory Units for this PG Diploma are taken into consideration this will result in a higher than standard number of hours of student input and this is reflected in total credit points for this PGDiploma being more than the standard 120. This will allow students to be properly equipped with the required knowledge for entry into the University of Bristol’s MSc in Veterinary Practice or similar programmes (ie analogous to senior residents) at other vet schools. Students will apply their knowledge and skills to the effective treatment and care of a range of clinical cases under the direction of veterinary specialists.

Attendance at a School based clinical seminar series will form a mandatory part of this unit and will provide additional supporting clinical and scientific knowledge.

Students will be introduced to the concepts of evidence-based veterinary medicine and its application to their clinical practice by producing an Evidence-based review based on a clinical question identified during the rotations included in the Unit. Students will be supported by academic staff and web-based teaching material for this.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Veterinary undergraduates are taught to achieve ‘Day one competency’, the minimum standard required for registration with the RCVS, and the starting point for a practising veterinary professional.

The aim of the PG Diploma in Veterinary Clinical Practice (Small Animal Practice) is to develop greater knowledge and understanding of small animal practice at a level or beyond those of the suggested Year One competences (

Overarching learning outcomes for both units include:

Consolidation of the day one level of competency in practical skills, knowledge and understanding of common conditions and ability to apply this confidently to clinical cases

Increased levels of knowledge and understanding to include less common conditions and those seen at referral veterinary practice

Observation of more advanced diagnostic techniques and procedures employed in referral veterinary practice

Specific learning outcomes for each speciality within the Unit:






  • Become confident with the techniques used to monitor patients during general anaesthesia and be able to manage commonly encountered anaesthetic complications appropriately.
  • Be able to assess and anaesthetise patients with co-morbidities
  • Confidently assess / quantify pain in cats and dogs and have knowledge of appropriate analgesic treatments for pain of different severities

Internal medicine

  • Demonstrate confidence in evaluating chronic medical cases using a problem-solving approach
  • Be able to develop management plans for a variety of chronic medical cases of moderate complexity e.g. protein losing enteropathy, hyperthyroidism with concurrent morbidities

Intensive Care

  • Have developed confidence assessing critically ill dogs and cats with multiple disorders
  • Be competent in techniques used to monitor critically ill animals e.g. invasive blood pressure monitoring, ECG, pulse oximetry and physical examination and demonstrate the ability to interpret the results of these


  • Be able to describe an appropriate investigative plan for animals presenting with cardiorespiratory disease
  • Be able to describe, implement and monitor therapeutic plans for animals presenting with acute cardiorespiratory disease

Emergency medicine

  • Be able to confidently triage and stabilise dogs and cats presenting as an emergency.
  • Understand the basics of fluid therapy and its role in emergency medicine and be able to confidently apply these to emergency patients.

Teaching Information

Methods of Teaching Please include reference to any distance learning or any significant e-learning components, if appropriate Seminar series 1 hour per week Students will be on clinics full-time during the week while on rotation. We expect much of this time will be consolidation of prior undergraduate learning / day one level of competency. Direct contact which contributes to learning new techniques and greater knowledge and understanding while on clinical rotations will be approximately 20 hours a week. Independent study reading round subject 4 hour/ week Preparation and writing of Evidence-based review 50 hours
Contact Hours Per Week 22 hours/week average direct contact
Student Input Breakdown of notional total student input (To include number of contact hours, independent learning, assessment, other activities) This unit will occupy 25 weeks of the student’s year Contact hours , including MCQ exam 550 hours Independent study 100 hours Evidence-based review 50 hours When combined with the second Unit on this PG Diploma it results in a total credit point of 140. This is higher than the standard expectation of 120 and this is justified within the paperwork above.

Assessment Information

Assessment Outline

Clinical competency 5 x mini-CEX or CbD During second set of rotations
Practical skills Reflective log-book Throughout rotations
MCQ 25 questions delivered on-line June
Evidence-based review 1 January


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. VETSM0052).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.