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Guidelines for CEMS Placement Providers

CEMS guidance for practitioners or other placement hosts

UCD School of Veterinary Medicine fully appreciates that as a placement supervisor, you are providing valuable work experience to each student on a voluntary basis, alongside a very busy and demanding career.

Typically, the expectations of the placement supervisor are to:

  • mentor the student
  • help them apply their knowledge and practical skills
  • provide them with opportunities to observe or participate
  • demonstrate effective client or staff communication/interaction

You will need to supervise the student’s involvement in clinical activities. The extent a student becomes involved will depend on the student's year in the programme, their individual capabilities, knowledge and practical abilities, as well as your own comfort level, your time, the circumstances surrounding these and other variables.

We advise students that they should select a base practice, at the beginning of the CEMS module, to which they can return at different points during their CEMS; the use of a base practice enables the placement provider and the student to get to know each other over a longer period. Practices that operate as a base practice for a student should be able to expect more of them over time with a view of becoming a useful member of the practice team. We recommend that the student attends this base practice for no more than 10 weeks, this enables the student to see other practices and gain experience in other species.

Before the Placement:

  • Prior to embarking on the placement, students are advised to contact the practice to establish “the ground rules” and any other relevant expectations pertaining to the practice, such as:
    • Daily start/end times
    • Out of hours duties
    • Attire required
    • Equipment necessary
    • Any ‘practice rules’ relating to conduct in the practice
  • We recommend that you sit down with the student at the start of the placement to discuss three key objectives selected by the student that they would like to achieve during the placement, to ensure these objectives are sensible and attainable or to reach a consensus of objectives appropriate to both student and placement host. The student should have thought about this beforehand using a template produced by the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) which is available on our website or directly at the AVS website as a student resource: http://www.avsukireland.co.uk/resources. The student is also encouraged to self-reflect on key areas of day one competences that need improvement and discuss them with you, to provide a basis for some objectives for the placement. The idea of these objectives is to aid both the student and the placement host so that both get the best of the experience.
  • We recommend that there is one contact person for the student in each practice, where possible, and that they are the person to discuss entry and exit interviews with them
  • It is essential that you make the student aware of the health and safety policies of your practice at the start of the placement. All students attending CEMS placements must have completed the CEMS driving licence before they start, this gives them guidance on how to conduct themselves in a veterinary practice

During the Placement:

  • The emphasis should be on introducing students to the aspects of the practice such as record keeping, communication with nurses and others, basic equipment preparation and giving them the opportunity to observe practice in action. Whilst practices should be alert to the limitations of practical skills and clinical competence of the student, they should not be necessarily excluded from helping in clinical cases
  • The amount of supervision that an individual student requires to achieve competence will only become apparent with time

The RCVS outline some potential aims of CEMS for the practitioner or placement host, to:

  • Maintain and improve, where possible, students’ present knowledge and level of training
  • Encourage students to become familiar with the use of simple instruments and with drug compounds, their trade names and applications
  • Provide experience under practice conditions of as wide a range of medical and surgical conditions as possible
  • Provide experience in handling routine consultations and procedures
  • Encourage students to relate to and communicate with clients where appropriate
  • Teach students about the non-clinical aspects of practice: interaction with clients, employers/employees and lay staff; care of practice property; the limitations that may be placed on clinical work in a commercial situation
  • Teach students the importance of the above in relation to professional behaviour and practice income by illustrating, for example: how practice fees are calculated; how bad debts are dealt with; how practice is structured and financed
  • Ensure students see the Practice Health and Safety Policy and appreciate how it applies to individuals

The list of day one competences provides a general indication of the experience students should be acquiring in each animal species. The overall objective is that in the first two clinical years, the student becomes so competent at everyday procedures that they become part of the job, rather than the job itself. At that stage, they should also be developing skills in recognising clinical signs and determining diagnoses and treatments, until by the end of their final year they should be able to carry out a practitioner’s routine work under supervision. At graduation, they should be capable of becoming a useful member of a practice team.

For further details please see:


At the End of the Placement:

  • On the last day of the placement, you will need to complete a form (via the Myprogress app) in order to provide feedback and critical appraisal on the progress and performance of the student. Please note the student cannot alter this form once completed and it serves as a method of verification that the placement took place
  • You should make feedback as constructive as possible and use it to further enhance the student’s personal and professional development
  • The student will receive a copy of your feedback for their personal development, and so we recommend to students to review the feedback as a learning tool
  • Practices should not be inhibited from providing honest feedback to and about the student and should contact the University’s CEMS Coordinator if they want to discuss a particular student in more detail. If the placement hosts wish to provide feedback either anonymously or otherwise they can do so directly to catherine.mcaloon@ucd.ie

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