Current and former curricula

| 11 Comments

The Curriculum Review Board (CRB) had asked for input from faculty and maybe from alumni regarding the past curriculum (pre-1997) and the current curriculum (1997-present). Those curricula are attached. Please let me know the following:

- What, if anything, was better about the pre-1997 curriculum?
- What, if anything, is better about the current curriculum?
- What problems existed before or exist now and what solutions do you see?
- Any general comments?

Peggy

curricula_pre-1997 and now.doc

11 Comments

Regarding the current curriculum, I feel that 2nd Year/ 2nd Semester is still a heck of a load for students to carry. While there have been some amendments from Spring 2010-Spring 2011, there are still 29 credits (not including electives) in the semester. A semester which includes an extensive (yet essential) Professional Skills Class, Surgery and Anesthesia (with 2 surgeries and classes the week of), Cardiopulmonary Disorders and Clinical Pathology (both worth 4 credits each and very challenging).

I'm not going to pretend that it is easy from the administrative aspect to juggle classes around to suit the needs of the students, nor do I think that changes come overnight. However, if there is a way to lessen the credit load for that semester it would seem more manageable to the students who are in class from 8-4 most days during said semester to make efficient use of their out of class time as it relates to their studies and "keep up" with personal "up keep" (i.e. Spouse, gym, domestic duties and the like).

Those are my 2 cents regarding the curriculum. On a positive note, I must say that MOST of the courses in the curriculum are well coordinated (Rob Porter, Robert Washabau, Lesley Sharkey among others) and instructors are interested in the academic wellbeing of students.

I hope this input helps the committee.

Be Well!

After looking at the members of the committee, I am wondering if there should be a student member? I think that the faculty assembled represent are very capable, but things may look differently from the other side of the fence. Adding a student representative could give a different perspective on curriculum changes and ensure that students are adequately represented.

I think a student member is a great idea, particularly upperclassman or better yet, recent graduate who may have better perspective on outcomes.

A few suggestions to prompt discussion-

1. As painful as it may be, having class be limited to 8a-3p 2-3 days a week would help give the students more time to work on homework assignments, reading, and other activities they can tailor to their own personal learning style. Student feedback may be helpful to assess where to trim back hours.

2. I have had very good experiences with a tiered curriculum of basic science first year, systems pathology based courses second year, and species oriented but problem based approach third year (SA medicine, SA surgery, equine med/surg, food animal med/surg, Lab animal, avian, swine with topics like "approach to the patient with diarrhea, or approach to the patient with respiratory distress). There is sufficient repetition with additional nuances each year in this curriculum to solidify learning and facilitate transition to clinics.

3. Consider carefully what is core. We have little time to prepare students to be competent clinicians, and we must avoid sacrificing key medical competencies for things that might be "nice to have" but must be weighed against detracting from time spent on basic skills that are required for entry level graduates.

Looking forward to following the discussion-

From comments I have heard from students and from what I have observed myself, I believe the following could be strengthened by having more help from CVT's: clinical skills-comment, not enough practice; parasitology-comment, never saw a parasite egg; anes-comment, had anesthesia lab before knowing how to operate the anes machine, didn't see anes machine until had to use in lab; and others. Could DVM's teaching the labs use CVT's as TA's? Sometimes student to teacher ratios are hard to manage in a lab setting. Just a thought.

A student member would be great, except that the amount of time required will be too much for any senior. What if we hired a graduating senior from the class of 2011 to work a year on the CRB plus do a little clinical teaching?

Re: current curriculum - it is obviously very overloaded form years of course additions and no subtractions. Beginning curricular revisions by establishing a clear definition of essential "clinical core" would trickle down and help establish appropriate, supportive learning objectives for year one and two. (The tiered curriculum approach sounds attractive.)

I also like the idea of having some incorporated "reflection/learning time" into the week e.g. a couple of shortened days. The current dense curriculum encourages (demands) cramming for one test after another - hindering learning. This also brings up the issue of assessments, but I assume this will be a later topic of discussion.

PS - I think having student representation on the committee would be an invaluable perspective.

I think we lost some continuity in teaching clinical skills when we made the change from DTT to Clinical Skills courses in the last curricular revision. For example, with this revision, we moved from teaching all aspects of a physical examination (the general PE and more detailed examination of each system) in one course, to theoretically teaching the systems examinations in each systems course. I think we lost being able to see the big picture of what was being taught, and the ability to hold students accountable for those skills. I think we need a greater emphasis on physical examination skills in the curriculum, clearly defining areas where the skills are taught, practiced, and feedback is given and then where there is testing on these skills.

Peggy,
Thank you for posting the required courses for admission. I recognize that they are not significantly different from many other institutions, but the pre-requisites have always seemed quite minimal to me. I question whether students who take only the minimum are optimally prepared for veterinary coursework and suspect more rigorous preparation in the sciences (ANY science, ie engineering, math) would be helpful. I have heard the diversity argument before, and while I heartily endorse the pursuit of social diversity in veterinary medicine and value liberal arts education (I double majored-1 "hard science, 1 social science), I struggle with the value of recruiting students poorly versed in science into a medical curriculum. How much will this be pursued in the curriculum revision discussion? Leslie

Committee,
I know you're not there yet, but please look for opportunities (not in all classes) to use more service learning- that will teach teamwork (better than cardboard towers?) , give more experience how to deal with "clients/public", and satisfy the growing demand for more public engagement in college curricula. Most students already do a lot of that, why not grant course credit for certain activities and make some part of the core curriculum?

I am very excited that a curriculum overhaul is in progress and appreciate all the hard work the faculty on the committee have and will will put it! I will keep up on this feed and try to give some constructive student input when I can. My leading comment, which I am sure is old news at this point, is that a reduction of in-class contact hours of pure lecture is essential for improvement in learning and material retention. Secondly, although I would have disagreed with this while completing my pre-reqs after having graduated with (very) liberal arts degree 5 years prior I think Dr. Sharkey's suggestion of additional pre-reqs is a good one. It would help in free up a great deal of time in first year dedicated to hard science courses. Biochemistry is an example [sorry Dr. Mickelson :)]

I wanted to take a moment and thank all the faculty and staff for their hard work on this curriculum review. I am beyond grateful for your effort and very proud to be one of your students. When I look over these messages and meeting minutes, I see a diverse group of people unhappy with the status quo and working hard to make a positive change. When I was selecting which school I wanted to attend, Minnesota moved from the bottom of my list to the top because of the GOALe program and behavioral interview. I am so happy that the curriculum is going through a radical change to meet the needs of the type of student Minnesota selects. I think you all are right on track for what needs changing. I'm also excited for the incoming students that will experience the enhanced learning environment that will allow them to grow into good veterinarians rather than subjecting them to "brain boot camp".

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