University of Tasmania

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Am I being understood? Veterinary students' perceptions of the relationship between their language background, communication ability, and clinical learning

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 10:05 authored by King, E, Henning, J, Wendy GreenWendy Green, Turpin, MJ, Schull, DN
During clinical workplace learning, effective communication between veterinary students and clinical staff is of paramount importance to facilitating learning, assessment, and patient care. Although studies in health sciences education have indicated that students may experience communication difficulties as a result of linguistic, cultural, and other factors and that these difficulties can affect clinical learning and academic outcomes, this has not yet been explored in veterinary clinical educational contexts. In this study, the authors sought to identify whether final-year veterinary students perceived that their communication ability influenced their clinical learning and, if so, whether language background was of significance. Seventy-one students from a final-year cohort at an Australian veterinary school completed a student perception survey at the end of their clinical training. Exploratory factor analysis was used to investigate the extent to which learners perceived that their communication ability influenced their clinical learning. Two factors explained 72.3% of total variance. Factor 1 related to communication ability as a source of concern; Factor 2 related to comprehending and contributing to clinical conversations. Communication ability as a source of concern differed significantly (p < .001) between students who did and did not have an English-speaking background, but there was no significant difference between these two student groups for Factor 2. Although language background was associated with self-perceived communication ability, evidence also emerged that students may experience communication challenges during clinical learning, irrespective of their language background.


Publication title

Journal of Veterinary Medical Education








Faculty of Education


University of Toronto Press

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2019 AAVMC

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the agricultural, food and veterinary sciences; Expanding knowledge in education