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Coronavirus: leading vet organisations issue joint guidance for practices offering EMS placements

By 30/03/2021No Comments

Together with a number of other leading veterinary organisations, we have today sent the following letter to UK veterinary practices, along with joint guidance for those practices that are able and willing to offer extra-mural-studies (EMS) placements for veterinary students during the ongoing pandemic.

View the joint guidance

Logos for RCVS, VSC, BVA, SPVS and AVS

Dear Veterinary Practice Principal

One of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on veterinary students and in particular a reduction in the opportunities for Extra Mural Studies (EMS), which is a required element of the veterinary degree programme. EMS provision is highly valued, and it is recognised that it plays a vital role in the development of new veterinary surgeons, supporting them to be able to graduate as day one competent.

In August 2020, we jointly called upon practices and placement providers to consider continuing to offer EMS opportunities to students as at the time, although restrictions were in place, they did look to be lifting. Of course, there were then further periods of lockdown announced in November 2020 and further restrictions over the Christmas period before the current lockdown.

However, with the government recently announcing the staged approach out of lockdown, we now feel that is appropriate to once again call on practices and placement providers to continue to offer EMS opportunities, if both the practice and the student feel that they are able to safely undertake a placement. The following guidance aims to provide information to support practices when taking students onto EMS placements during the pandemic, through advice and information on measures that could be used to minimise and / or mitigate possible risks involved. 

Education is included in the category that the government allows to be exempt from certain restrictions, such as travel. EMS falls within the definition of education and therefore students would be permitted to attend placements. 

Offering students an EMS opportunity remains at the discretion of the practice and this guidance does not intend to put pressure on practices taking on students if they do not wish to, but is intended to act as a guide for those practices that are willing to.

Thank you to those who are already continuing to offer placements where you can, your ongoing assistance in providing this vital service is much appreciated, and we hope that this guidance will support you in continuing to do so.

We will review this guidance and update it as necessary in line with Government and other appropriate regulations. 

It is appreciated that many practices will have incorporated different ways of working to remain open during the pandemic, and the RCVS and BVA continue to update their coronavirus advice for veterinary professionals in practice. This advice is in line with the UK governments’ latest guidelines for employers and businesses as the four nations of the UK begin to emerge from lockdown restrictions.

If you have any questions about our EMS guidance, please email [email protected].

Yours faithfully

Mandisa Greene MRCVS
President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Susan Dawson FRCVS
Chair, Veterinary Schools Council

James Russell MRCVS
President, British Veterinary Association

Nick Lloyd MRCVS
President, Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons

Calum McIntyre
President, Association of Veterinary Students


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