Teaching parasitology in a modular veterinary curriculum - The Vienna experience.Vet Parasitol. 2018 Mar 15; 252:101-106.VP
In a changing world with rapidly evolving new technologies, even in the "sheltered world" of teachers and lecturers at universities, we are challenged by new developments. As diversification is increasing in many aspects of our professional life, there is also a need to employ new ways of teaching, learning and assessments in veterinary curricula, taking into account the increasing numbers of students and limited teaching resources. The "classical" Austrian veterinary curriculum, with a series of consecutive lectures followed by practical courses in the different disciplines, separated from each other in the curricular time table and by annual examinations, has been a long-standing concept for teaching in the past. However, when veterinary practitioners and graduates where asked to judge the adequacy of undergraduate training for their professional skills and knowledge, several major shortcomings were revealed. The most commonly mentioned point was a lack of first-day competencies. As a consequence, the Vetmeduni Vienna developed a new veterinary curriculum implemented in 2014-2015. This curriculum covers 12 semesters and includes a "Diploma" (degree) thesis and several externships; graduates are eligible to practice in all branches of veterinary medicine. We abandoned the classical discipline-based teaching, established a modular, mostly organ-based system, and focus on student-centred and competency-based learning and teaching with defined learning outcomes and first-day skills. We also include training of scientific, managerial and communication skills in the curriculum. What does this mean for parasitology? We do not teach this subject in a closed lecture, but rather in a modular style, starting in the first year with the taxonomy and basic morphology of the animal kingdom, proceeding to parasite biology of the major groups in the second year, to the diagnostic and clinical training in practicals in the third year as well as joint lectures, seminars and conversatories in the organ- and species-based clinical training in years 3-6. Examinations are organised in different test formats, aligned to a list of skills and diseases. Quality assurance is a formal process and implemented at different levels. The ultimate aim of undergraduate teaching is to provide students with defined professional competencies and promoting life-long learning.