Pre-Clinical Sciences

Pre-Clinical Sciences are taught at the CVM during the first five semesters of the program.

Semester 1

The canine extensor carpi radialis muscle can be used to illustrate the CVM integrated approach to content delivery.  Students in the Veterinary Anatomy I dissection laboratory learn about the cadaveric appearance of this muscle, its attachment sites to the bony skeleton, its topographic relationship to adjacent forelimb structures, its action, and it’s vascular and nerve supply.  At the same time, students palpate the extensor carpi radialis muscle in the forelimb of live dogs and observe the contributions this muscle makes to a normal gait.  Students are asked to consider how alterations in this muscle might manifest as an abnormal gait.  Students also study the radiographic features of this muscle and adjoining structures in preparation for a subsequent radiology course.

In the concomitant Histology course the microscopic and ultra-structural features of normal muscles are scrutinized and the function of muscle as a tissue is introduced.  In order to build a bridge with our subsequent pathology series, very brief and preliminary discussions of pathologic changes are periodically introduced.

At the same time that students are studying the microscopic and ultra-structural features of individual cells, the molecular biological functions carried out by these cells as well as the complex interactions between cells are taught in the Cell Biology course.

The contributions of muscle (skeletal, smooth, and cardiac) as a tissue to a range of vital functions are considered in the Physiology course.  Some very brief and preliminary discussions about alterations of steady state, such as muscular dystrophies or cardiomyopathies, build an enticing bridge to pathology and medicine courses taught in later semesters.

In our Clinical & Professional Skills laboratories, students complete a variety of exercises designed to impart critical skills needed to function in later semesters.  For example, students work to train their non-dominant hand so that they can later handle surgical instruments, tie surgical knots, or manage artificial insemination equipment with either hand. Students also learn about effectively communicating with clients, as well as sound animal handling skills.

Our One Health course touches on issues and topics, crucial to functioning as a modern-day health care professional in a global community including principles of personal finance, ethics, and professional development.

Semester 2

The same vertically and horizontally integrated approach to curricular design has been employed for the second semester of the curriculum.

Students in the Veterinary Anatomy II dissection laboratory sequentially learn why the horse is not a dog and why ruminants are not horses.  These differences are taught in an evolutionary and a functional context.  Students will discover that many of the muscular elements of the horse’s limb have been converted to connective tissue, which is in keeping a prey animal’s attempt to lighten the load in its limbs.  As another example, students will study anatomical differences between the monogastric digesters, the forestomach fermenters and the hindgut fermenters.

At the same time, the functional implications of these ecological “decisions” by the representative species will be considered in the Veterinary Physiology II course.  Once again, students palpate these same limb structures of living horses and cows.  They also learn about the topographical relationships between intra-thoracic and intra-abdominal organs.   They will auscultate these same organs.  These large animal activities will follow the restraint and management techniques presented in Clinical & Professional Skills I and II.

The Clinical & Professional Skills II course will encompass a wide range of skills, including microscopy techniques, gram staining, streaking agar plates, and sensitivity and specificity testing.  To introduce students to issues common to population medicine, students will participate in epidemiological exercises, using Problem-Based Learning techniques.  In addition, the initial aspects of the physical examination will be taught.

In addition to corresponding to the veterinary anatomy II course, the Veterinary Physiology II will be taught in a systems approach that aligns with other second semester material.  Organ systems to be studied include, cardiopulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and neurological.  Moreover, at the same time the physiology of various organ systems are considered in this course, relevant infectious agents are discussed in the Parasitology, Bacteriology, and Virology courses.

Material for the Bacteriology, Virology, Parasitology, and Immunology courses will all be taught in the context of infectious disease.  Although students will be introduced to the taxonomy for various infectious agents, this will not be the primary emphasis.  The infectious behavior of the agents will be presented in order to lay the groundwork for students’ diagnostic and problem-solving skills.  This will be accomplished through intermittent case presentations and diagnostic challenges.  These cases will be presented by adjunct faculty with expertise in infectious disease.

For the One Health II course, students will develop an understanding of the use of epidemiologic tools for the investigation of disease.  They will learn to begin critiquing individual scientific papers, how to critically review broader scientific literature, including assessment of study design and execution, statistical methods applied, and quality and relevance of investigators’ conclusions.  Areas of consideration will include the human-animal bond in health and disease, an introduction to zoonotic diseases, and environmental contaminations as a segue to the subsequent Toxicology course.

Semesters 3 and 4 are devoted to developing a practical understanding of disease – its causes and effects, diagnosis, and treatment.

Successful completion of the pre-clinical curriculum will be celebrated by a Transitions Ceremony that is held just prior to student embarkation into their clinical experiences.