At the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, there is perhaps no more important priority for our Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program than ensuring the curriculum is relevant for graduates. The school has introduced several recent teaching innovations to prepare the next generation of veterinarians to excel in their careers.
A $150 million building expansion and renovation, slated for completion in 2024, will further benefit the student experience. Specific enhancements for an improved learning environment include dedicated hospital rounds rooms and small-group collaborative instruction spaces. The state-of-the-art facility will also double the size of the small animal hospital, significantly enhance the large animal hospital, and expand and modernize research spaces.
Among recent clinical instruction initiatives, hospital services and associated rotations in primary care surgery and dentistry ensure that fourth-year DVM students experience real-world examples of cases seen in practice. Students perform general practice surgeries, dental exams, and extractions—as well as client communication, follow-up, and postoperative care—with direct supervision and immediate feedback. In creating these and other hands-on experiences, the school liaised with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association to determine expectations of competencies in various veterinary procedures at graduation.
The school’s Zoological Medicine team also developed new clinical rotations to provide exposure to the unique aspects of zoological and wildlife medicine—essential for students pursuing these specialties as well as general practitioners. A Zoo Medicine Outreach rotation allows students to help provide local and ambulatory zoo medicine services throughout the state, while students on the Wildlife Medicine rotation enjoy hands-on learning with wildlife species at 2 high-volume rehabilitation centers.
A clinical rotation with the Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education, and Social Services (WisCARES) clinic—a national model for community outreach and one health collaboration—helps students build and apply clinical and professional skills to produce veterinarians who are ready on day 1. This partnership of the schools of veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and social work provides veterinary medical care and social services to low-income or homeless Dane County pet owners in a south-side Madison neighborhood considered a veterinary desert. The access to clinical veterinary experience, combined with activities focused on diversity, bias, and self-care, builds students’ self-awareness and cultivates cultural humility.
In partnership with local and national animal welfare organizations, School of Veterinary Medicine faculty, staff, and students also deliver veterinary care to underserved pet owners through door-to-door outreach in Milwaukee and Madison. This community engagement is just 1 element of a clinical rotation with the University of Wisconsin’s Shelter Medicine program—one of the most respected in the country—to help train future veterinarians in the optimal care and management of sheltered or otherwise vulnerable companion animals.
Collectively, these programs exemplify the Wisconsin Idea, emphasizing the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s service to the state and positive impact beyond the classroom.
A curriculum revision process rooted in Competency-Based Veterinary Education will refine these educational experiences to enhance graduates’ professional abilities, relevance, and excellence. To be implemented in 2024, the revised curriculum is anchored in the processes, decision-making, and problem-solving at the foundation of skilled veterinary practice.