Message from the Dean
Launching our Curriculum Review
The UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s DVM program curriculum has not had an extensive review for about 15 years. The existing curriculum has served the college and our graduates well in this period, as evidenced by consistently above average scores on the NAVLE and high praise from our graduates and their employers. One innovation that was instituted at the last revision was the early clinical experience followed by elective didactic courses. This provides students with an early introduction to clinical concepts and experiences, reinforcing the didactic coursework and making it more meaningful. The college’s curriculum also provides lots of clinical and surgical experience through the shelter program, making UF graduates more practice ready than graduates of some other veterinary colleges.
We want to preserve these positive characteristics, but our curriculum also has some undesirable and probably unintended disadvantages. Delivering the basic science content in two years to accommodate the early clinical experience causes the first two years to be jam packed with content, which in turn leads to undue stress and probably impairs learning. We need to examine these two years carefully to see how we can overcome these disadvantages. At the same time, we need to evaluate the last two years of the curriculum to determine if parts of this clinical experience might be better utilized.
The world and the profession of veterinary medicine have changed considerably in the past 15 years. We should consider these changes in light of the curriculum content we are delivering. We tend to teach what has been taught traditionally in a veterinary curriculum, in disciplines that reach back to the early 1900s. Some of the old disciplines are rarely questioned. In light of the explosion of other new knowledge, it’s now time to evaluate and question everything.
Technology has also advanced. We now have the capability to video conference with high quality visual and audio in every classroom. This allows a technological capacity we need to utilize more fully. We are no longer confined to our own faculty and the sharing of expertise among institutions is now possible on a scale like never before. We can also video record of our lectures and easily provide them to our —and perhaps even to other — students which could ultimately enhance learning and accommodate diverse student schedules and study habits.
We must also examine ways to become more efficient in how we deliver quality education while cutting costs. As the state of Florida has reduced funding, the college has looked to other avenues to maintain the quality education we are known for. As tuition has escalated, so has student debt and this cycle is not sustainable. We will have to carefully evaluate cost benefit with this in mind. One idea we are considering is to adjust the pre-veterinary curriculum so that students could meet all of the requirements in two years. This could be followed by a gradual shift to students being admitted earlier, thereby cutting down on total debt and increasing the number of earning years.
The North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC) report was issued last year and this study had wide input from the profession and the colleges. We should take it seriously and evaluate all of the recommendations as we evaluate our own curriculum.
Curriculum reviews are always laborious and usually contentious. Our faculty has ample academic freedom in devising and delivering courses. They are passionate about their teaching, and change is almost always difficult. But the need for review is compelling, and that’s why we are initiating the review. Hopefully we will be able make improvements and innovations. If any of you have suggested changes, please send them.
As always, thanks for your support. Go Gators!
Glen Hoffsis, DVM, MS
Dean, UF College of Veterinary Medicine