RCVS launches plans for a new extra mural studies (EMS) policy in Autumn 2024 - Veterinary Practice
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RCVS launches plans for a new extra mural studies (EMS) policy in Autumn 2024

The RCVS is launching plans for a new extra mural studies (EMS) policy that is expected to come into force from autumn 2024 onwards

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is launching plans for a new extra mural studies (EMS) Policy that aims to improve learning, flexibility and opportunity for all.

Planned key changes in the new EMS policy include the introduction of quality assurance measures for EMS to increase the consistency of high value placements and allow for a reduction in the number of hours vet students are expected to spend on EMS placements.

The policy will also allow students to complete their EMS in a much more flexible manner, with longer and/or shorter placements being made possible, and students being given the freedom to choose which EMS placements would benefit them most.

To facilitate the new approach, a national EMS database is being developed to support the administration of placements and facilitate matching students’ wishes with provider offerings.

The new EMS policy framework is expected to come into force from autumn 2024 onwards. In the intervening period, the College will be working extensively with the vet schools, EMS practices and student representatives to embed the changes.

To address the existing challenges faced by veterinary students, veterinary schools and EMS providers under the current system, the new policy will take a multifaceted approach and focus on four main areas:

  • An enhanced approach to EMS achieved through additional quality assurance measures, enabling the number of weeks of EMS required by students to be reduced
  • Greater flexibility and more outcomes-based approach, allowing students to identify their own learning outcomes in areas most relevant and of interest to them, and achieve the experience in different ways
  • Clear information for students on what specific EMS placements can offer in terms of experience and support
  • Measures to increase the accessibility and availability of EMS placements across the profession, through improved guidance, promotion and recognition of the benefits to all parties and incentives for providers

Plans for the future EMS policy were informed by insights gained from a variety of stakeholders from across the industry, including delegate feedback from an EMS Stakeholder Event hosted by the RCVS in November 2021.

In addition, feedback from a variety of sources was used to inform the plans, including RCVS surveys of new graduates, the 2019 Graduate Outcomes consultation, and the new accreditation standards consultation, which all had high response rates from the profession.

Ongoing conversations with key stakeholder groups including the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS), the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) and EMS Coordinators Liaison Group also played, and will continue to play, a key part in the rollout of the new policy.

Kate Richards, Chair of RCVS Education Committee and RCVS Senior Vice-President, commented: “A key priority of the new policy is to reduce the financial burden of attending EMS placements on students, as this often exacerbates the challenges already being faced by students from differing socio-economic backgrounds.

“We aim to do this through reducing the number of weeks spent on placement and allowing students to take EMS placements more flexibly for example in single days over a longer period as well as longer blocks, meaning they can work more flexibly around work, family and caring commitments.

“To allow for this reduction, the new policy will aim to increase the consistency of quality of placements and provide a more valuable experience for all parties.”

RCVS Director of Education, Linda Prescott-Clements, added: “The new EMS policy will be student-led with a more outcomes focus based on the individual learning needs of students.

“It is important that students feel motivated and engaged with the working environment when on EMS. The new approach will place greater emphasis on feedback and reflection to give students more autonomy to develop their own interests, reflect on their achievements, and consider what further experience they might benefit from in the future.”

The RCVS Education Committee agreed to the new proposals in September. To support the new approach, the RCVS has already committed to building a national database of EMS placements which will be integral to the new system.

It is hoped the database will ease the administrative burden around placements for both the veterinary schools and students, as well as providers.

The database is currently in the early stages of development, but further stakeholder input will be sought as the project progresses.

Further work on other aspects of improving the EMS experience will also continue to be rolled out. This includes the creation of an online hub to provide for students and providers with clear information on EMS, as well as tips and guidance on how to get the best out of placements.

Further information will be published on the RCVS website on all areas of EMS work, and the new EMS policy plans “A new EMS policy for the future: improving learning, flexibility and opportunity for all” can now be viewed in full on the RCVS website.

The RCVS will also be attending the London Vet Show, where they will be hosting a talk all about the new policy entitled. The session will be presented by Linda Prescott-Clements on Friday 18 November from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in Gallery Suite 7.

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