Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PCA108

Poster Communications

Teaching acid-base physiology to first year veterinary science students using animal clinical case data

F. MacMillan1, E. J. Senior1, A. J. Smith1,2, C. Smith2

1. Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Bristol, Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. 2. Langford Clinical Veterinary Service, University of Bristol, Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


Acid base balance is a challenging concept for students to grasp but is an important concept for veterinary science students. At Bristol we have previously taught acid base by way of an interactive case based session which was adapted from a session using a Human Patient Simulator (CAE Inc, Canada) developed for the medical students. However, veterinary science students relate much better to veterinary related teaching. We have therefore developed a case based interactive session using data from real veterinary clinical cases. In the session student participation is encouraged via the use of audience response devices (Turning point), which have been demonstrated as an effective way of increasing student engagement (1). The session was delivered immediately following a lecture on the basis of pH and acid-base disturbances. In the interactive session 5 cases were presented to illustrate common simple acid-base disturbances. The values from blood analysis (pH, pCO2, HCO3-), that are typically available in veterinary clinics, were presented along with relevant clinical signs. The students used the data presented to work out the possible disturbance and underlying cause indicating their answers using turning point. Compensatory mechanisms for each case were also discussed. In one case (renal failure) the clinical data was modelled using paediatric settings of human patient simulator software (CAE Inc, Canada) to provide respiratory data (tidal volume and respiratory rate) and demonstrate the compensatory mechanisms. These data were then used to illustrate the respiratory compensatory mechanisms following a metabolic acidosis. In another case further data on renal function was used to encourage the students to think about how to determine the causes of acid-base disturbances. Students were provided with a handout to record their findings for each case which included an acid-base nomogram to help aid their diagnoses. The session was evaluated via a test and a questionnaire completed immediately before and after the interactive session. There was a statistically significant increase (P < 0.001) in the post session test scores (from a mean of 62.5% to 86.0%) indicating the students' knowledge improved in the session. Questionnaire data demonstrated that students improved their confidence in the topic and that they found the session useful and informative. The session will be incorporated into the first year timetable in future years in place of the human based session.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements