Course Descriptions

Progressive hands-on learning, a student-centered curriculum and team-based training take students out of the classroom. Interpersonal skills, business acumen, leadership and well-being are vital elements in a program that prepares day-one, career-ready professionals.

This course will utilize engaged learning in small groups to introduce essential foundations in anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and related diagnostic and therapeutic medical sciences (for example, radiology, pharmacology) to create a solid base of knowledge and skill that will enable students to excel in subsequent organ-system block courses. The key to this will be training in the engaged learning methods used throughout the CVM curriculum.

The Professional Skills coursework (VETM 802A, 802B, 802C, and 802D) represents four consecutive semesters of interactive learning designed to introduce students to key occupational attributes required for clinical practice success. Emphasis will be placed on interpersonal skills, including professional behavior, ethics, and how to communicate effectively with all veterinary team members (employers, colleagues, support staff, and veterinary clients). Instructional sessions on clinic conversations will introduce Calgary-Cambridge communication skills and allow students multiple opportunities to practice these skills in simulated encounters with standardized clients. Simulated encounters will include everyday clinic dialogues, such as comprehensive and focused history-taking, estimate sharing, explanation of physical exam findings, and review of the diagnostic and treatment plans. As students develop foundational communication skills, their encounters with standardized clients will advance in difficulty to include such difficult conversations as financial constraints, disease progression, euthanasia, and anticipatory grief. In addition to oral communication skills, students will practice the art of written communication by learning how to construct concise medical records (SOAP notes) that hold up in courts of law. Other key professional skills that will be explored in-depth include sessions on financial acuity and student debt, practice management, contract negotiation, work-life balance, mental health, and well-being.

The Clinical Skills coursework (VETM 803A, 803B, 803C, and 803D) represents four consecutive semesters of primarily experiential learning designed to create and build upon a foundation of core knowledge and techniques essential to the practice of veterinary medicine.  Students will gain proficiency in the safety of handling and restraint. They will use their understanding of animal behavior and welfare to observe, approach, and examine canine, feline, bovine, and equine patients. Live animals will augment the use of non-animal teaching tools and simulators to practice minimally invasive techniques that facilitate diagnosis. This hands-on approach to learning will be fully integrated with the systems-based curriculum. For instance, when students are mapping the structure and function of the heart in anatomy and physiology, they will be practicing how to auscultate the heart and palpate femoral pulses in the Clinical Skills Laboratory. Critical skills that will be emphasized include, but are not limited to, physical examination, diagnostic sample collection (i.e., blood, urine, feces, and tissue), clinical pathology (complete blood counts, chemistry profiles, urine and fecal analysis), intravenous catheterization and fluid therapy, surgical instrument and tissue handling, aseptic technique and sterile prep, suturing, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Skills will be taught using a layered approach. The complexity of the introduced and ultimately assessed skills build upon one another and advance in difficulty throughout the curriculum. Students who complete this series of courses will be well prepared for VETM 814 Anesthesia and Surgery.

The Clinical Logic in Doctoring coursework (VETM 804A, 804B, 804C, and 804D) represents four consecutive semesters and will utilize small-group engaged learning sessions integrated with the coincident systems block. The course focuses primarily on developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students are presented with a clinical case to study, discuss, and “solve every two weeks.” The cases will be developed from clinical cases seen by veterinarians in the affiliate clinical practices and clinical case banks. The cases will focus on the clinical application of concepts learned in the concurrent courses. While refining medical knowledge is a component, its emphasis is the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills vital to helping students “think like a doctor." The sequence of systems blocks is designed to progressively increase case complexity to prepare students for understanding multisystemic diseases and multi-sectoral approaches.

The One Health in One World coursework series runs over four consecutive semesters. This course focuses on veterinary public health issues at the local, national, and international levels with an emphasis on the role of the veterinarian in the One Health team. In the first semester of the course, students develop a conceptual framework for One Health and begin to identify the veterinarian’s various roles within this framework. Throughout the course, students will learn to integrate their knowledge of the One Health concept to solve real-world problems in multiple contexts, including zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food security/food safety, animal health regulations, and ecosystem health. Students will also develop critical thinking skills in evaluating and applying research relevant to One Health and enhance their leadership and communication skills essential for working with a One Health team. By the end of the students' veterinary training, they will be competent One Health practitioners.

Utilizing collaborative learning techniques, students will learn about the defense mechanisms of the hemic-lymphatic system and skin barrier that protect an individual from infection, trauma and other insults. In addition to normal structure and function, pathological processes of the hemic-lymphatic system and skin and the resulting disease presentations will be emphasized.  Students will explore and acquire the critical thought processes to select and interpret relevant diagnostic tests and determine appropriate treatment plans for diseases involving these organ systems.

Collaborative learning instruction will provide a basic comparative understanding of the musculoskeletal system, designed to help students approach the maintenance of musculoskeletal health and diagnose disease. The course reviews the location, identification, and function of bones, muscles, peripheral nerves, and vessels of the body. The structure and physiology of the basic tissues of the musculoskeletal system (cartilage, bone, joint, and muscle) are reviewed. Common diseases, their underlying pathologic mechanisms, current diagnostic techniques, and therapeutic plans for the primary domestic species will be included.

Students will engage in comparative examination and exploration of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal systems, the roles these closely related systems play in maintaining homeostasis and animal wellness, and how these systems can malfunction. The course will integrate how differences in the anatomy and physiologic needs of different species affect the function of these systems. Students will learn through peer instruction and team-based learning activities and in-person gross anatomy labs to promote competency in identifying and diagnosing cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal system disorders. Students will explore and acquire the critical thought processes needed to select, perform (when applicable), interpret relevant diagnostic tests, and determine appropriate broad treatment targets and approaches for diseases involving these organ systems.

Foundational knowledge of the gastrointestinal tract and the three main accessory organs (Pancreas, Liver, and Gallbladder) will be deepened and expanded in this course from a clinical perspective. This course will include collaborative learning and instruction to enable students to synthesize signalment, history, and physical exam into a differential list from most to least likely for a patient/flock/herd with gastrointestinal signs. Students will outline and implement an iterative diagnostic plan prioritizing high yield tests over lower yield tests, understanding the rationale, risks and benefits, results and information from each test. Students will begin to outline a high-level treatment plan that may include medical, pharmacological, nutritional, and surgical interventions based on the owner’s budgetary restrictions (understanding the role of the primary & referral veterinarians), and adjust these plans based on the patients’ response and disease progression, financial and emotional limitations of the owner, as well as additional information that may result from more advanced testing. Rare facts or processes not used daily in clinical settings are not emphasized. Instead, the course aims to give students a process to approach clinical signs of illness in the GI tract and accessory organs. The knowledge will provide a solid basis for future multi-systemic, internal medicine, and surgery courses and electives in the student’s area of interest.

Students will engage in a comparative examination of the reproductive and endocrine systems and their roles in maintaining homeostasis, animal wellness, and animal propagation. Anatomy, histology, physiology, pathophysiology, and endocrine function will be explored through the life span from conception to pregnancy, parturition, and development to adulthood in the common species (dog, cat, horse, cow, pig). Utilizing engaged learning techniques, students will gain competency in identifying, diagnosing, managing, and preventing common reproductive diseases and endocrine disorders. The effects of the environment, nutrition, husbandry, and genetics on maintaining reproductive health will be emphasized. The knowledge will provide a solid basis for future multi-systemic, internal medicine and surgery courses and electives in the student’s area of interest.

Using collaborative learning instruction, students will be introduced to the structure and function of the normal nervous system and learn pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, and treatments of common neurological diseases. In addition, students will learn normal behavior and how to recognize, prevent, diagnose and treat unwanted and abnormal behaviors. Students will explore and acquire the critical thought processes needed to select and interpret relevant diagnostic tests, determine appropriate treatment plans, and apply the most current clinical knowledge.

In veterinary medicine, students will find that there are very few single-system diseases. Organ systems are all part of a whole organism, and each is necessary. When a patient is ill, the historical and clinical findings may point some in the direction of one primary malfunctioning organ, but there are, more often than not, additional clinical and clinicopathological findings that suggest secondary dysfunction in one or more organs. In this course, students will be presented with diseases, some of which they have seen before and some new to them, that routinely affect multiple organ systems. These diseases will require consideration of the primary and secondary pathophysiological processes in interpreting diagnostic tests and treatment of the disease. The Sum of the Parts provides the finale to the organ systems courses and will use collaborative learning strategies to analyze diseases and conditions in which multiple organ systems are affected. In this course, students will recall the structure and function of the normal systems and apply knowledge of pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, and treatments to typical conditions in which more than one organ system is impacted. Students will also have the opportunity to use the critical thought processes learned in Clinical Logic in Doctoring to select and interpret relevant diagnostic tests, determine appropriate treatment modalities, and apply clinical knowledge acquired in the systems courses to complex pathophysiological processes.

The Companion Animal: Advanced Clinical Management course, which focuses on small companion animals, extends and adds clinical complexity to the organ systems courses and to Sum of the Parts (VETM 812), by expanding the scope of emphasis to include a more holistic approach to patient care and disease management. This includes, but is not limited to, life stage, nutritional, therapeutic and long-term patient management, public health, fiscal, client considerations, and disease prevention.

The Large Animal Advanced Clinical Management course extends and adds clinical complexity to the organ systems courses and to Sum of the Parts (VETM 812) by expanding the scope of emphasis to include a more holistic consideration of the patient and the patient’s disease(s). This includes, but is not limited to, fiscal concerns, life stage considerations, nutritional considerations, therapeutic and long-term patient management considerations, and public health considerations.

The courses 814A and 814B are designed to build upon the knowledge students have gained during the preceding four semesters of preclinical courses, building to a more clinical context. Learning events will consist of TBL/PI sessions combined with immersive simulation exercises, clinical skills activities and live animal surgical procedures. Successful completion of the course will prepare students for their 3rd-year clinical rotations.

The Advanced Professional Skills coursework (VETM 815A and VETM 815B) represents two consecutive semesters of primarily experiential learning designed to build upon foundational knowledge in clinical practice, particularly in the content areas of medicine, surgery, and client communication. Students will be primed to participate in surgery on live animals using non-animal teaching tools and simulators. Students will refresh their physical examination skills and medical record-keeping to ensure that the standard of care is met and appropriate documentation of all patient care in the pre-, intra-, and post-operative periods. Students will learn how to create and tailor anesthetic plans to the individual patient; how to administer pre-medications; how to induce and intubate patients; how to monitor anesthesia; how to identify and appropriately respond to changes in a patient’s vital signs and parameters intraoperatively; and how to recover a patient from an anesthetic event. Students will learn how to perform routine and elective surgical procedures, including, but not limited to, canine/feline ovariohysterectomy and open/closed castrations. Students will learn to manage postoperative complications and how to use pain scales in advance of procedures to minimize the occurrence of wind-up pain. Students will also build on their oral communication skills through continued interactions with standardized clients. Standardized client encounters will advance in difficulty to include clinic conversations surrounding unexpected death, treatment complications and medical errors. Students will learn how to effectively communicate with clients and team members when faced with emotionally charged cases and unsatisfactory patient outcomes. Students will also learn how to navigate interpersonal conflict, in particular, when team members outwardly disagree about how to move forward on a given case.

Using collaborative learning instruction, students will be able to explore various facets of veterinary medicine more in-depth and focused than is feasible in the regular course curriculum. Students will have five three-week blocks of time to concentrate on their topics of interest. The student will individually tailor the selective course to maximize their exposure to their areas of interest within the 15-week course.

Education during the clinical year will involve rotations through a vast network of clinical affiliates. Students will have access to routine and diseased animals in various clinical settings. 

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How to Apply

As you begin the application process, make sure you are on track to meet CVM prerequisites and discover financial resources available to you.

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