SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

June 24, 2015 10:30 ET

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine celebrates 10 years

A decade of community partnerships built a veterinary college serving Alberta's needs and beyond

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - June 24, 2015) - Ten years ago, Alberta was reeling from the devastating effects of the BSE (mad cow disease) crisis. One of the worst agricultural crises in Canada's history, it drew attention to the close link between animal and human health -- and was the main catalyst for the creation of a new veterinary college based in Alberta. Driven by the provincial government, it was announced in 2004 that the province would get a new veterinary college located at the University of Calgary.

On June 24, 2005, the Board of Governors at the University of Calgary approved the establishment of the new Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM).

Fast forward ten years, and UCVM has grown from an idea based on the province's needs into a highly successful reality.

"UCVM has developed into an internationally-recognized provider of high quality veterinary education and a leader in comparative biomedical, veterinary and population health research," says Dr. Alastair Cribb, UCVM's founding dean. "Bringing a veterinary college into a region does more than just train veterinarians. It brings research expertise and clinical expertise to the area and addresses problems relevant to the area. So you get much than just veterinarians trained. You get a whole community that comes to the province."

The plan was to build a program that was different and fit in with the culture and environment of Alberta. And it was with the input and cooperation of the local veterinary community that the veterinary college took shape.

"Our DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) program is a little bit different in that we start the students out in their clinical training in the very first year," says Dr. Emma Read, professor of equine surgery and chair of the Clinical Skills program. "So the very first day, very first year we start getting them into the labs. We also place a great emphasis on using simulator models and experiential learning experiences. The idea is they go out into these practices and institutions and see first hand the kinds of casework they're going to be doing themselves when they graduate."

UCVM is the only veterinary school in Canada, and one of only a handful in the world, using a community-based teaching model rather than an on-campus veterinary teaching hospital. Known as the Distributed Veterinary Learning Community (DVLC), this group of dozens of veterinary practices and other sites is where fourth year students take a series of practicum rotations to gain clinical experience.

"The combined responsibility of doing our work as well as teaching, those are things that make us better as veterinarians," says Dr. Mike Scott, Moore Equine Veterinary Centre, a member of the DVLC.

And along with graduating veterinarians, UCVM is renowned for the quality of its research. It has a close physical relationship with the Cumming School of Medicine, sharing lab space, resources, knowledge and infrastructure.

"If you imagine a situation of there being no veterinary faculty here 10 years ago to where we are now, where we've got almost 70 Faculty members, multiple research programs in place," says Dr. John Gilleard, associate dean, Research. "When you're looking at the opportunity to do veterinary research, it's one of the best places in the world to be."

A major highlight of the past decade is the convocation of four classes of DVM students, the first cohort graduating in 2012. UCVM now has 122 DVM alumni working in Alberta and beyond, and 125 graduate students and advanced clinical trainees.

"I'm proud of the quality of the students that we get in and what they're like when they leave," says Cribb.

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at ucalgary.ca/news/media.

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Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Collene Ferguson
    Manager, Marketing and Communications
    Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
    University of Calgary
    403.210-6615
    collene.ferguson@ucalgary.ca