VN Council requests educators defer OSCEs and other assessments for SVNs

27 March 2020

Following the announcement of a lockdown phase in order to control the transmission of COVID-19 by reducing all unnecessary contact, we are asking all veterinary nurse educators to defer all forms of practical assessment for student veterinary nurses (SVNs) for a period of at least three months.

VN Council made its decision on Wednesday 25 March 2020, following a series of recommendations from the VN Education Committee concerning the fact that, under the strict lockdown conditions, holding the practical Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (or OSCEs) required for SVNs to complete their training, would no longer be possible.

It has become clear that holding practical examinations would be unsafe for SVNs and examiners, as well as not being possible under the lockdown conditions announced.

As a result, we are writing to all further and higher education institutions asking that they defer OSCE assessments for up to three months, with the situation being reviewed again in late June.

Julie Dugmore, Director of Veterinary Nursing at the RCVS, said: "Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of stricter lockdown measures at the beginning of the week, it has become clear that holding practical examinations would be unsafe for SVNs and examiners, as well as not being possible under the conditions announced.

"This was not a decision we took lightly as OSCE assessments are embedded into all veterinary nursing licence to practise qualifications, meaning all SVNs need to pass them in order to join the Register.

"VN Council did look for alternatives means of delivering the assessment but, having considered a number of options, none was possible under the current circumstances and the health and welfare of the students and examiners are paramount. VN Council will reconvene in June to review the situation and take further decisions if needed.

"In addition to VN Council’s decision on the OSCEs, it is also encouraging further and higher education institutions to ensure students can continue to progress academically even during lockdown. To this end, it has requested that these institutions use secure systems to deliver any unseen assessments or defer these assessments until such time as they can be appropriately and safely delivered."

VN Council’s decision follows a decision last week to temporarily amend the requirements for SVNs around clinical placements at Training Practices.

We have published a webpage dedicated to providing advice and guidance for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic which can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/coronavirus

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