The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has completed one of the most notable years for its academic programs after every student in the Class of 2011 passed the national licensing exam.
Between a competitive admissions process and a rigorous four-year training program, students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program have to pass a number of hurdles on their path to become a veterinarian. One of these, the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE), ensures that students have appropriate clinical knowledge and is a requirement before they can practice as veterinarians.
According to Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, associate dean for professional programs at the veterinary college, the 100 percent pass rate is not only the highest in the past five years but also a testament to the college’s success at preparing the next generation of veterinarians.
“In many ways, we’ve done a good job assessing whether our students are capable of getting through the curriculum and then passing the final exam through our admissions process,” Hodgson said. “We have also done a good job of teaching them what they need to know and then assessing whether they actually know it in years one through three. The expectation is that we will have a good pass rate in year four.”
Students must pass the NAVLE and, in many cases, a state board exam before entering private veterinary practice in North America. They have two opportunities to take the test in the fourth year of their training program, first in December and then again in April, as well as three other chances after they graduate in May. Every student in the Class of 2011 passed in the first two attempts.
NAVLE covers all major domestic species, but the curriculum at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine goes beyond simply preparing students to pass an exam. In addition to a core curriculum that offers basic biomedical knowledge and demonstrates how to apply this information in a problem-solving setting, students take courses in one of five track choices: small animal, equine, food animal, mixed species, and public/corporate.
“Even though our core curriculum makes up 70 percent of the veterinary education, that is sufficient to pass the NAVLEs,” Hodgson said. “And yet, we still have a tracking curriculum that allows our students to focus on their areas of interest. We are really covering both bases in the curriculum.”
Recent graduates have attributed their success in the veterinary profession and their ability to focus on their interests to the college’s educational program. Dr. Aaron Lucas, who graduated from the doctoral program as valedictorian in 2010 and finished a doctorate in biomedical and veterinary sciences in 2011, started his veterinary career this summer as a mixed animal practitioner at a clinic in Luray, Va.
“My three and a half years of veterinary school before taking the NAVLE certainly prepared me for my clinical practice,” said Lucas, who began his research on clinical parasitology for large animals for his doctorate before enrolling in the veterinary program. “I would put my veterinary education up against any other school in terms of quality and experience.”
Dr. Julie Sanders, who graduated from the Class of 2009, agreed that she was ready to practice veterinary medicine the day she graduated.
“My training at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine gave me a chance to pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian and enter a field of practice of my choosing,” said Sanders, an emergency veterinary at Emergency Veterinary Services of Roanoke, Va. “I use the knowledge I gained in veterinary school every day on the job.”
Much like their predecessors, students in the Class of 2012 will have their first chance to pass the exam in December. The veterinary college has already accepted applications for the Class of 2016.
Graduates of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine attribute their success in the veterinary profession and their ability to focus on their interests to the college’s educational program. See what kind of lessons they learn in this photo gallery.
Before veterinary students can enter private practice in North America, they must first pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam and graduate from an accredited institution. The cross-species exam tests students’ clinical knowledge during their first three years of veterinary school.
Students have five opportunities to pass the exam, including two times during their fourth year of veterinary training.
At the end of their first year, veterinary students select one of five tracks:
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is one of only a small number of veterinary schools with a tracking curriculum, first introduced in 1998.
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