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VSWCP Keystone Project

Keystone Project

Keystone-“the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place”-Marriam-Webster Dictionary

Prerequisite: Completion of module(s) related to VSW content area(s) highlighted by project

To earn the Veterinary Social Work Certificate, participants must complete a keystone project that requires at least 250 hours of service learning. This piece of the VSW-CP requires participants to take their new knowledge and turn it into action.  The keystone component is flexible and is designed to help participants develop relationships and begin the process of making their professional goals come into being.  Keystone projects can be completed at the participant’s current place of employment or in a volunteer setting, even if not in an animal setting.
When writing your proposal, please include
  • the overall mission of the facility where the project will take place
  • a veterinarian who will be consulting on the project
    • if you are a veterinarian, please have a licensed MSW consult
  • a contact person at the facility if the consulting veterinarian is not on-site
  • the veterinary social work content area(s) your project will highlight
    • please be sure to complete the online module(s) your project highlights before submitting your proposal
  • the measurable objectives of the project and how you will track the project’s efficacy

Click here for an example of an approved Keystone Project Proposal. See below for frequently asked questions.

To submit your keystone project proposal click here.

Keystone Project Letter of Completion

When you have completed at least 250 hours of service learning you will submit a letter of completion and create a final Keystone Presentation. In the letter of completion, please include

  • date
  • hours completed
  • summary of service learning activities
  • consulting veterinarians signature
  • your signature

Keystone Presentation

After completing the keystone project, participants will create a 5-minute presentation that will be delivered at the VSW Oath Ceremony, which is the same week at the International VSW Summit. Participants who joined the certificate program before February 2017 are not required to attend the international VSW Summit and can complete the presentation at home. By completing this piece of the certificate participants have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in Veterinary Social Work. Similar to a physical keystone, this piece of the project brings together all components and locks the pieces in place. Refer to the bottom of the page for frequently asked questions.


  • Presentations will consist of five slides
  • Each slide will be set to automatically transition after one minute


  • Where the Keystone Project was completed and how you got your foot in the door
  • Area of VSW that the project focused on and goals of the project
  • Barriers that arose and how those barriers were overcome
  • Most rewarding experience
  • Results of Keystone Project

Frequently Asked Questions:

-How long do I have to complete my Keystone Project?

The Keystone Project needs to be completed before attending the International Veterinary Social Work Summit. The Summit is the final step in the program.

-Does the time I spend planning the Keystone Project count towards my 250hrs?

Yes! All planning counts. You can count phone hours spent reaching out to facilities, consulting with your veterinarian, doing paper work, etc.

-I need help planning my Keystone Project. Who can help me brainstorm?

You can brainstorm ideas with the help of fellow participants as well the VSW team during supervision. You can also email for assistance.

-How do I record and track my hours for the keystone project?

You may track your hours in a way that is easiest for you. We do not require participants to submit their time sheets. All that we require is the letter of completion outlines above.

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