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Veterinary Licensing in Canada: How are your clinical skills??

Updated: Apr 19

Hello future veterinarians!

When I was initially writing these blog articles, they were for me. Then, I started targeting future veterinarians - what would the next generation of veterinarians wish for?

I had one colleague that was a veterinarian from South America and he wished to prepare for veterinary licensing in Canada, so I wrote a blog post on how to prepare for the PSA for the CPE.

Since then, I have taken a break from blogging, but another veterinary student who wishes to become licensed in North America asked if I could write a blog on how to study for the BSCE.

The Basic and Clinical Skills Examination is yet another part of the licensing process. Given that many veterinary colleges around the world will have different focuses, the BCSE ensures that foreign graduates have the equivalent knowledge of graduates from AVMA accredited veterinary colleges. After this comes the CPE (Clinical Proficiency Examination) - essentially a hands on examination that spans several hours and usually conducted over a few days. I have heard of the rare person actually passing all modules - so if you fail one module, do not feel defeated!

If you are studying for the NAVLE, then you can equally be studying for the BCSE. Talk about acronyms galore!!

I encourage you to first browse the information on the AVMA's website for the BCSE. This will have the information that is up-to-date (especially during COVID restrictions there were a lot of delays, postponements etc).

Just as with the NAVLE - you can get a 'Question of the Day' emailed to you from ZukuReview. The BSCE has fewer questions than the NAVLE, and some folks figured that as long as you were studying for the NAVLE, then you would be fine for the BSCE. All folks who wish to be licensed in Canada or the U.S.A. must complete and pass the NAVLE. But only folks who graduated from non-accredited veterinary colleges have to take the BCSE.

I would encourage you to plan ahead. If you are planning to write both, do not delay too long after writing and passing the BCSE and writing your NAVLE.

I can be daunting to think about studying, but similar to the NAVLE - group things by major species: dog, cat, horse, cow, swine, small ruminant, poultry, etc

Take a look at the primary groupings below:

You must know the normal form and function - think about what are clinically relevant anatomical features for eat major group of species, are there any differences that stand out to you? Then think about clinically relevant physiological features. Typically, normal form and function is discussed in first year veterinary school.

Then in second year you learn about the 'abnormal'. Once you know the 'normal' form and function, you can start delving into pathophysiology of disease. Can you tell me how secondary renal hyperparathyroidism is developed in a cat? What if you saw foci of abscessation in the lungs of a cow - how would that happen? What other findings would you see on the necropsy? A horse has a rotated P3 - what does that mean? How did it happen? If you're given a radiograph of a dog, and the stomach is gas distended - how do you know if this is bloat or GDV?

Now that you know what is normal, and how to identify abnormal, you are on to how do you 'fix' it - in comes your medicine and surgery classes in third year of veterinary school. What is the treatment or management for the above diseases? What is the prognosis? These are just examples. A wise person once told me - study for the veterinarian that you want to be. My thoughts are, always study to be able to apply your anatomy and physiology.

All of fourth year veterinary college is what will be jammed into the CPE.

When studying for the surgical component of the BSCE, you may as well think about how you can overlap with what you would need to know for the CPE. For example, when you go to spay a female dog, what anatomical structures do you incise when opening the abdomen? How do you find the ovaries and uterus? Speaking of uterus - you may want to brush up on the signs of pregnancy in cattle. If you perform rectal palpation on a cow - when should you feel a membrane slip? Cotyledons?

Regardless, I wouldn't worry tooooooo much about the BSCE, especially if you are already studying for the NAVLE.

The CPE on the other hand... ;)

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