Kim J, Rinke EJ, Matusicky ME, Millward LM. Outreach Medicine as an Experiential Teaching Tool to Improve Veterinary Student and Client Education. J Vet Med Educ. 2022 Oct;49(5):560-567

PMID: 34342523


Outreach medicine is used to improve students' medical, technical, behavioral, and communication training among health professional schools; it is also used in veterinary schools, but little has been described on its educational impacts among pre-clinical veterinary students. Aiming to train practice-ready graduates, we established a monthly nonprofit vaccine clinic serving low-income clients to provide pre-clinical veterinary students with a realistic experiential learning environment. We developed surveys to assess the educational impacts of outreach medicine on pre-clinical veterinary student and client education. We received 101 student surveys, 26 educator (i.e., veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians) surveys, and 96 client surveys. Veterinarians, students, and technicians reported that students improved in important veterinary skills such as client communication, subcutaneous injection, patient handling, and physical examination. They also reported improved confidence in students' clinical decision making. Veterinarians valued the vaccine clinic as a favorable educational tool to teach behavior assessment and low-stress handling, and they highlighted that experiential learning via the vaccine clinic provided students with a clinical experience representative of most veterinarian practices (i.e., small animal general practitioner). Clients reported that the clinic's students and veterinarians greatly improved their knowledge of their pets' care and vaccines-notably, their knowledge of rabies and leptospirosis improved. Outreach medicine in the form of a vaccine clinic creates valuable experiential learning opportunities that increase veterinary student preparedness and complement didactic, laboratory, and case-based teaching.