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Universal Skills

Universal Skills List


  • Many schools use a skills list to help meet Standard 11 of the accreditation standards of the AVMA Council on Education https://www.avma.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Education/Accreditation/Colleges/Pages/coe-pp-elements-of-the-self-study.aspx
  • In 2009 the UMN CVM decided to implement a skills list as a complement to our longitudinal competency assessment (the primary way we meet Standard 11) and to help identify gaps in skills training in response to student and graduate feedback through surveys that are reviewed regularly by the collegiate curriculum committee (CCEP).
  • There had been many skills lists used by various instructors for existing courses with no easy way to collect this in aggregate.
  • Species work groups were convened to contribute skills to the list. 
  • Minnesota practitioners were surveyed at the MVMA to gather input from private practice.
  • The list was refined and we began planning for implementation.


  • Through consultation with other schools, we considered the lessons they had learned about implementation. Commercially available systems require the instructor to log in to approve skills, resulting in countless emails and don’t provide any direct feedback. Paper logs are easily lost and labor-intensive to manage.
  • We decided to create a custom database and require students to enter completed skills. Students will carry a paper copy to obtain signatures and will turn those in periodically so we can validate that skills logged in the database have been evaluated, as evidenced by appropriate signatures.
  • Many of the skills are already completed in existing laboratories, rotations, hospital practica (clerk duty), etc. Faculty and technicians can sign off (internally). Students who perform procedures externally (on the job, on externship, at SIRVS or RAVS, etc.) must obtain a signature from a DVM. A signature indicates that the student demonstrated entry-level competence. The process for faculty and technicians oftentimes will be the same as it has been for years (for example, in large animal clerk duty); only the students bear the extra step of cataloging their verified competencies in the database. 
  • Courses with existing skills lists can give us their list and we will enter that into the database to facilitate their tracking of skill completion. We can run reports as requested.
  • In the pilot phase of implementation, we will set a low bar for the percentage of skills required of students and this will be (in part) a diagnostic effort to learn where students are already performing skills and what skills are least available to students internally.


  • We welcome feedback from faculty, technicians and students as we refine the process for full implementation. This will undoubtedly include feedback on the skills listed as well as the processes, including what is confusing or problematic for faculty, technicians and students. 


Student Competency Worksheet

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