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Extramural Studies

Extramural Studies (EMS)

Guidelines to farmers / owners when receiving veterinary students to see farm / companion animal experience

To fulfil the requirements of the veterinary medicine degree, students are required to become proficient in the handling and management of a variety of animal species.  Consequently, the objectives of student farm and companion animal experience is to introduce veterinary students to the concepts of animal production systems, husbandry, management and handling that operate on commercial enterprises.  This should include learning about normal feeding, housing, management and care of farm animals.  The student should get involved in whatever routine practices are ongoing while on the farm / enterprise.

As the student gains this experience, the emphasis should not be on disease/veterinary aspects of animal production, which will be covered in detail in later years, but rather on normal animal husbandry and on being able to perform routine tasks proficiently and understanding the basis of good animal management and the reasons for decisions concerning animal production on a commercial farm.  If you need to contact a staff member of University College Dublin with regard to a student seeing farm / companion animal experience, please contact Vivian Gath at +353-1-7166250 or Vivian.Gath@ucd.ie in the first instance.

Module Descriptor: https://hub.ucd.ie/usis/!W_HU_MENU.P_PUBLISH?p_tag=MODULE&MODULE=VET20120&TERMCODE=202200

Clinical Extramural Studies (CEMS)

Clinical Extramural Studies (CEMS) is an essential part of a student's veterinary education - please see below for further information on CEMS and what is required of students completing placements.

Clinical Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) is  an essential element of a student’s veterinary education. Students at UCD must complete a 12 week pre-clinical and a 24 week clinical EMS during their programme. Pre-clinical must be completed during the first two years of their studies, clinical EMS covers the remainder of the programme.

Clinical EMS provides students with an opportunity to gain real-life work experience that enhances their university-based studies.

The UCD School of Veterinary Medicine is tasked with teaching the skills that the student needs for general practice when they graduate (the day-one competencies). It is whilst the student is on clinical EMS placements that they get the opportunity to immerse themselves in real life veterinary work and gain as much practical experience in as many areas of veterinary practice as possible.

CEMS helps students prepare for the workplace and introduces them to life-long learning and reflective practice; this is developed as part of on-going professional development practice after they graduate.

Students are required to successfully complete and submit the appropriate electronic forms to support 24 weeks of CEMS, before the end of April of their final year.

Within the 24 CEMS weeks, a mandatory period must be spent within various sub-disciplines, as follows:

  • Small animal practice – 4 weeks
  • Production animal/mixed practice – 4 weeks
  • Equine practice – 2 weeks (ideally taken as one placement)
  • Meat plant placement – 5 days (3 days meat plant and 2 days assignment)

The remaining 13 weeks may be spent at the student’s discretion. Between one week and 10 weeks can be spent on a single clinical EMS placement. 

5-Year and 4-Year Veterinary Medicine Programme Pathways

Stage Autumn Trimester (1)*
Module title & credit volume
Spring Trimester (2)
Module title & credit volume
Stage 1 MVB
  • Professional Growth 1 (5)
  • Cell & Whole Body Metabolism (5)
  • Intro to the Practical Apps of Veterinary Anatomy & Comparative Topographical Anatomy of the Thorax (5)
  • Veterinary Cardiovascular & Respiratory Function (5)
  • Basic Structure & Function (5)
  • Cell Biology & Homeostasis (5)
  • Practical Animal Husbandry (5)
  • Comparative Topographical Anatomy of the Abdomen & Pelvis (5)
  • The Physiology and Biochemistry of Digestion of Domestic Animals (5)
  • Introduction to Veterinary Epidemiology (5)
  • Elective modules (10)
Stage 1 GE
  • Professional Skills (5)
  • Cells, Tissues, Organs & Development (5)
  • Neurobiology & Structures of the Head (5)
  • Cardiovascular & Respiratory Systems (5)
  • Animal Behaviour and Welfare (5)
  • Cell Metabolism and Dynamics (5)
  • Practical & Applied Animal nutrition (5)
  • Locomotion & Exercise (5)
  • Reproductive Biology (5)
  • Digestive physiology and integrated metabolism (5)
  • Abdomen & Pelvis - Topographical Anatomy (5)
  • Food Animal Systems & Applied Breeding(5) across trimesters 1&2
Stage 2 MVB
  • Head & Nervous System of Domestic Animals (5)
  • Introduction to fluids:blood, plasma, urine & milk with an emphasis on pharmacokinetics(5)
  • Genetics & Animal Breeding (5)
  • Integrated Physiological Communication (5)
  • Animal Behaviour & Welfare (5)
  • Veterinary Food Animal Systems (5)
  • Locomotion in Domestic Animals (5)
  • Introduction to Pathobiology (5)
  • Practical & Applied Animal Nutrition (5)
  • Reproductive Biology (5)
  • Elective modules (10)
Stage 3 MVB/2 GE
  • Professional Growth 3 (5)
  • Applied Anti-pathogen & Anti-inflammatoy Therapies (5)
  • Veterinary Pathobiology (20)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine & Surgery (5)
  • Veterinary Clinical Gastrointestinal System (10)
  • Veterinary Clinical Respiratory & Cardiovascular Systems (10)
  • Veterinary Clinical Haemolymphatics (5)
Stage 4 MVB/3 GE
  • Clinical Reproduction (7.5) across trimesters 1&2
  • Veterinary Public Health I (5)
  • Veterinary Clinical Neurology (5)
  • Veterinary Clinical Urology (5)
  • Veterinary Anaesthesia (5)
  • Veterinary Herd Health & Population Medicine (5)
  • Veterinary Clinical Endocrine, Metabolic & Dermatology (5)
  • Professional Growth 4 (5)
  • Veterinary Public Health II (5)
  • Senses, Exotics & Critical Care (5)
  • Clinical Musculoskeletal System (7.5)
Stage 5 MVB /4 GE
(both trimesters)
  • Anaesthesia & Diagnostics Multispecies (10) 5 weeks
  • Equine Clinical Studies (5) 2 weeks
  • Farm Animal Clinical Studies (10) 5 weeks
  • Small Animal Clinical Studies (15) 6 weeks
  • Small & Large Animal Surgery (15) 6 weeks
  • Veterinary Elective Rotation (5) 3 weeks

*UCD has academic trimesters. The veterinary programme runs over 2 trimesters only

All students are expected to graduate with a certain level of day one competencies. The role of CEMS is to complement the training delivered by UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in ensuring students graduate having attained these competencies and are safe to practice after graduation in whichever area of the veterinary profession they begin their career.

UCD aligns our CEMS objectives very closely with that of the RCVS who have developed a wealth of resources in this area. Following a major review, in 2020 the RCVS has published an updated comprehensive resource on day one competencies for veterinary students.

For more information please see: RCVS Day One Competences

For further information on the aims and objectives of CEMS, please click on the relevant section below:

Aims of CEMS - for Veterinary Students

CEMS Guidance - for Practitioners or Other Placement Hosts

Students may only undertake placements if prior approval is granted from the CEMS office under the MyPlacements portal on SISweb. Students are expected to adhere to the health and safety policy of the practice or placement establishment in which they are working, it is expected that their attention is drawn to this health and safety policy in the placement establishment at the commencement of a placement. 

UCD veterinary students are advised to have fully read the CEMS handbook and to have their own private health and travel insurance in place whilst on CEMS placements.

A health and safety guideline for students has been developed by the RCVS, please see EMS Health & Safety Guidelines (RCVS)

Practice by Students - Regulations

As veterinary students are required to undertake acts of veterinary surgery as part of their clinical training, the acts that they can undertake are set down in the Veterinary Practice Act 2005 and the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Act 2012.

For the Veterinary Practice Act 2005 see: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2005/act/22/enacted/en/html see page 43

For the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Act 2012 see: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2012/act/25/enacted/en/html 

“The student of veterinary medicine referred to at paragraph (a) shall do or perform the act matter or thing if—

(i) it is required to be done or performed as part of the approved programme of education in which the student is participating,

(ii) it is done or performed under the direct supervision and in the presence of a veterinary practitioner, and

(iii) the act matter or thing is, in the opinion of the person providing that approved programme of education and the veterinary practitioner, appropriate to the knowledge, skill and competence of the student.” 

The UCD School of Veterinary Medicine are pleased to announce that we have a new free webinar available called Train the Trainer: An Educational Resource for those supporting students on Clinical Extra Mural Studies (CEMS) in clinical settings.

The webinar is 90 minutes in length and is presented by: Dr Catherine McAloon, the CEMS Module Coordinator, Ms Belinda Whitby, the CEMS Administrator in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and Dr Liz Chan, a renowned speaker in Veterinary Education and is currently a reader of Veterinary Education at the Royal Veterinary College in London.

CVE credits for 2023 are being sought from the Veterinary Council of Ireland. More information to follow. 

To access the webinar sign up to our online CVE portal: https://www.ucd.ie/vetmed/study/continuingveterinaryeducation/

If you require more information, please contact Belinda Whitby at ems@ucd.ie

  • On the last day of the placement, students will ask their placement supervisor to complete a form (via the Myprogress app) in order to provide feedback and critical appraisal on the progress and performance of the student
  • Practices should not be inhibited from providing honest feedback to and about the student; the form the student will ask you to complete cannot be amended by the student and is designed:
  • To verify the placement occurred
  • To provide an opportunity for feedback
  • The student will receive a copy of the completed feedback form for their personal development, and so we recommend to students to view the feedback as a learning tool
  • If placement supervisors would prefer to fill in the form and submit it directly it can be downloaded from here (CEMS Clinical Placement - Supervisor Feedback Formand submitted to myprogress@ucd.ie or ems@ucd.ie within 30 days of completion of the placement (please note that if you  as a placement supervisor complete the form on the students Myprogress App at the end of the placement you do not have to do anything further)
  • If for any reason placement supervisors wish to provide feedback indirectly to the student or wish to discuss a particular student in more detail, please contact the CEMS Coordinator: catherine.mcaloon@ucd.ie

What is Myprogress?

Myprogress is an app and website that will support students in capturing feedback and attendance. It will help the student to gather evidence about their learning and it will support the student competency development. 

Myprogress allows you (the placement host) to complete and submit placement forms on the student’s mobile device or on a laptop / desktop. The app can work offline, which is an important feature when the student is on a placement with no internet access.

The most common form you will be asked to complete for a student attending CEMS at your practice is the CEMS Clinical Placement Supervisor Feedback Form. Section A of the form is completed by the student and you have to complete Section B. Click here to view a video demonstration.

The UCD School of Veterinary Medicine has a dedicated Covid-19 webpage that is updated regularly, please see https://www.ucd.ie/vetmed/newsandevents/schoolofveterinarymedicine-covid-19updates/ for further details.

Please note local arrangements vary with regard to CEMS completion during the pandemic and each year group will have been communicated with directly by the module co-ordinator. Various concessions have been arranged for some years regarding reducing CEMS requirement and this is under constant review. Students should refer to the COVID-19 specific health and safety documents provided by the EMS office.

Contact the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine

UCD Veterinary Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 6100 | Location Map