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CVMA Self Assessment Tool for the Clinical Proficiency Exam

This tool is designed to help you evaluate your preparedness for the Clinical Proficiency Exam. It should not be interpreted as an exclusive or comprehensive summary of required learning for successful completion of the Clinical Proficiency Exam.

Candidates are advised to refer to the Manual of Administration for the Clinical Proficiency Exam (link available on this website) for a detailed look at each of the seven sections of the Clinical Proficiency Exam.

In North America, readiness for practice is based on demonstration of competency in the following areas.

  • Clinical Reasoning and Decision-making
  • Individual Animal Care and Management (including surgery)
  • Animal Population Care and Management
  • Public Health
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Professionalism and Professional Identity
  • Financial and Practice Management
  • Scholarship

To maximize the likelihood of success in your performance in the Clinical Proficiency Exam, the following questions are designed to help you self-assess your readiness to take the CPE.


Can you perform each of the tasks asked in the following questions?


  1. Can you formulate, calculate, and implement a sedation, induction and anesthesia protocol for a companion animal? 
  2. Can you list several different drugs used in pre-anesthetic protocols and explain how each drug fits into a multi-modal anesthetic protocol?
  3. Can you calculate drug dosages given that you know the weight of the patient both in pounds and in kilograms?
  4. Can you calculate appropriate fluid administration rates for maintenance, surgery, and replacement of fluid deficits?
  5. Do you know how to select an appropriately sized endotracheal tube for your patient?
  6. Do you know how to calculate and choose an appropriately sized rebreathing bag for your patient?
  7. Can you name all the parts of an anesthetic machine and check the system for integrity and safety?
  8. Can you describe which physiologic parameter is measured by each piece of anesthetic monitoring equipment?
  9. Can you consistently place and secure an intravenous catheter, using the appropriate level of sterile technique, in a variety of species?
  10. Are you able to adjust the anesthetic plan based on changing physiologic parameters?

Small Animal Medicine, Radiology and Pharmacology:

  1. Can you collect a complete medical history?
  2. Can you safely conduct a physical exam on a variety of species?
  3. Do you know normal physiologic parameters and how they relate to each other in the patient?
  4. Are you able to explain changes in physiologic parameters in healthy vs anesthetized vs sick patients?
  5. Can you generate a problem list and differential diagnoses list for a variety of clinical findings?
  6. Can you explain your findings and plan with the animal's owner and provide options for further assessment and care?
  7. Can you generate an appropriate diagnostic plan and describe why each test has been chosen?
  8. Can you perform basic diagnostic testing and sample collection? For example: Hematocrit, Urine specific gravity, preparing a diagnostic blood smear, serum total protein?
  9. Can you position a companion animal to make diagnostic quality radiographs? 
  10. Can you evaluate thoracic and abdominal radiographs in companion animals?
  11. Can you use the data collected to generate a working diagnosis?
  12. Can you design and implement a treatment plan and justify the rationale for each part of the plan?
  13. Can you explain your rationale for the working diagnosis to the owner, providing options for further care?
  14. Can you write hospital orders that are easily readable and understood by other staff caregivers that describe how to monitor and respond to a hospitalized patient?
  15. Can you write an appropriate and complete prescription for a veterinary patient?


  1. Can you identify and perform all the steps in the preparation of a surgical site for an ovariohysterectomy in a dog?
  2. Can you maintain a sterile field?
  3. Are you able to gown and glove using open and closed gloving techniques?
  4. Can you describe the anatomic position of abdominal structures in dogs, cats, horses, and cattle?
  5. Can you choose type and size of suture for different procedures, and be able to explain your rationale for your choice?
  6. Can you open an abdominal cavity safely using good tissue handling procedures?
  7. Can you appropriately close an abdominal incision using multiple layers of closure and appropriately spaced sutures applied with appropriate tension?

Equine Practice:

  1. Can you perform a lameness exam and assess lameness in a horse?
  2. Can you make and evaluate equine limb x rays?
  3. Can you use proper anatomical nomenclature in English or French?
  4. Can you effectively communicate instruction to support staff for assistance in diagnostic and treatment procedures?
  5. Can you give several examples of causes of colic in a horse, and the diagnostic procedures to differentiate them?
  6. Describe different treatment regimes for different types of colic?
  7. Can you effectively use a rebreathing bag to assess lung function in a horse? Can you instruct an assistant appropriately to help with this test?

Food Animal Practice:

  1. Can you name the drugs which are prohibited from use in food producing animals?
  2. Can you name public health and food health issues that might be a concern in North America, and can you communicate those risks to a client?
  3. Can you name 4 zoonotic disease process that are a concern in North America?
  4. Can you perform a variety of diagnostic and treatment procedures in ruminant patients including but not limited to : passing a stomach tube, assessing a displaced abomasum, a rectal palpation for pregnancy evaluation?
  5. Can you evaluate the health status of a variety of ruminant species, of any age, including herd health and regulatory issues?
  6. Can you generate an initial problem list and differential diagnoses, identify reasonable initial diagnostic tests, and interpret their results?
  7. Can you determine the most likely diagnosis and develop a therapeutic plan for the animal and/or the herd?
  8. Can you estimate the prognosis for the patient and identify regulatory and public health implications?


  1. Can you select appropriate equipment, supplies and personal protective equipment needed to perform a systematic necropsy in a safe manner?
  2. Are you are able to collect and preserve sections of appropriate size and thickness from a variety of organs?
  3. Can you accurately document what you have found on examination of the intact carcass and the open carcass, including normal and abnormal findings of the organs, musculature, joints, glands, and lymph nodes?
  4. Are you able to remove the animal’s head for rabies examination?
  5. Can you remove and dissect the heart using appropriate technique to identify all its major structures?
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