WesternU has the newest College of Veterinary Medicine in the United States. Five classes have successfully graduated as of May 2011. The WesternU curriculum is innovative, integrative and complex. The basic sciences in the first two years of the curriculum are taught through problem based learning. No lectures. Inquiry based investigation of cases with associated activities, labs and discussions. In years 3 and 4, the medical education and clinical instruction is taught in situ through a "distributive" model. Students begin the life of a Veterinary Nomad when they are sent out into the real world in the third year. In two week blocks a third year WesternU vet student is assigned to a new veterinary enterprise or disciplines. The third year will include zoo medicine at the Los Angeles or other Zoo, beef cattle medicine at the Hastings Center in Nebraska and pathology at Antech Diagnostics in Irvine, CA. This continues for 32 weeks or 16 courses with four interruptions (exam weeks). Understand, this is not "shadowing" veterinarians in the field. Students work to achieve educational objectives through group study, preceptor and faculty guided work in place. They have continuous assessments and examinations throughout the year. In the 4th year, the College assigns two CORE rotations, Internal Medicine and Surgery and the veterinary student selects six rotations. The 4th year could be spent entirely in Southern California or around the world. I know it sounds complicated. It is. The logistics are crazy.
I am Associate Professor Diane McClure, a course leader for the third year in Laboratory Animal Medicine and Research. As students begin this nomadic life of a new place every 2 weeks, my role as Professor is to follow along via cyberspace (black board, e-mail, mobile phone calls, texts and Facebook). I also visit each location at least once during the two week rotation when students are present. Face to face meetings are where the subtle issues come to light so they can be addressed before they become catastrophes. Thus, I am a Veterinary Nomad too.
Beyond learning veterinary medicine in all it's diverse roles, veterinary nomads are learning another set of skills. How to fit into a new work environment every two weeks, how to communicate with a tremendous variety of people in vet med and on public transportation, how to live out of a suit case and still have the resources you need to write papers, create PowerPoint presentations and maintain personal health and hygiene. This is a powerful skill set that is difficult to name, but I call it Road Scholarship.
This blog will share joys and travails of a Veterinary Nomad.
Disclaimer: This blog is of my own doing and does not represent any official position or opinion by WesternU. ~ Diane McClure, DVM, PhD