ACVS Diplomates were surveyed to identify a complete list of core surgical skills, determine the expected frequency of use of these skills, and ascertain the level of skills proficiency expected of entry-level practicing veterinarians.

Study Design

Internet-based survey.

Sample Population

Randomly chosen ACVS Diplomates (n = 750).


Rating scale items were used to construct the main portion of the survey with 26 skills that were scored by participants based on rankings of proficiency expected of entry-level veterinarians, as well as expected frequency of use of these skills. Additional demographic questions were included to gather information regarding gender, practice type, year of veterinary school, year of ACVS membership, job description, primary surgical discipline, practice location, average number of procedures performed on a weekly basis, and number of new graduates mentored in the last 5 years.


Of 337 Diplomates (44.9%) who responded to the survey, >60% expected entry-level graduates to have good skills with minimal supervision or complete skills for 21 of the 26 skills categories listed. More than 60% of respondents ranked 7 skills with a lower frequency score (seldom or occasionally use). Orthopedic instrument handling and fixation skills as well as electrosurgical and laser skills received some of the lowest expected proficiency and frequency rankings. No additional skills categories were identified in the open-ended survey questions.


A complete list of core surgical skills was identified. There was broad consensus between boarded surgeons irrespective of their practice type, experience, or discipline for ranked proficiency and frequency scores among the core surgical skills expected of entry-level veterinarians.