The DVM Curriculum

The primary educational goal of the College of Veterinary Medicine is to prepare students for a lifetime of productive activity in the veterinary medical profession. The following eight outcomes define the focus of veterinary medical education at Cornell: the entry-level graduate veterinarian.

The DVM graduate will demonstrate:
1. An understanding of the scientific principles underlying veterinary medicine
2. The basic clinical skills and attitudes necessary to care for the common domestic animals and other species entrusted to our stewardship
3. Critical thinking as evidenced by successful problem solving
4. Sound clinical judgment and medical decision making skills
5. An understanding of the interactions animals, people, and the environment
6. A commitment to professionalism, includes a commitment to animal welfare and to following the best practices in relation to ethical, cultural, global, business management, and legal issues
7. Self-education and lifelong learning skills to promote professional growth
8.An understanding of the limits of one's knowledge and skills and the ability to address those limits through effective use of sources of information and expertise 

A Year-By-Year Summary of the DVM Curriculum


Year 1 
Fall Term  Credits Spring Term  Credits
VTMED 5100 The Animal Body
VTMED 5701 Veterinary Practice: Physical Examination 
VTMED 5200 Cell Biology and Genetics 
VTMED 5210 Fundamentals of General Pathology 
Total Credits 

12
1.5

6
2

21.5
 

VTMED 5702 Veterinary Practice: Ethics & Animal Care
VTMED 5220 Neuroanatomy 
Distribution Courses (credits approximate) 
VTMED 5300 Function and Dysfunction: Part I 
VTMED 5703 Veterinary Practice: Communication Skills 
Total Credits

1.5

2
7

9

1

20.5

Year 2
Fall Term Credits Spring Term Credits
VTMED 5310 Function and Dysfunction: Part II 
VTMED 5400 Host, Agent, and Defense 
VTMED 5410 Parasitology 
VTMED 5704 Veterinary Practice: Introduction to Clinical Procedures
Total Credits

7

12

2.5
1
22.5
 

Distribution Courses (credits approximate)
VTMED 5500 Animal Health and Disease: Part I 
VTMED 5705 Veterinary Practice: Introduction to Public Health 
Total Credits

7

14

1.5

21.5

Year 3
Fall Term Credits Spring Term Credits
VTMED 5510 Animal Health and Disease: Part II 
VTMED 5706 Veterinary Practice: Professional Development 
Total Credits 

20
1.5

21.5

VTMED 5520 Diagnostic Imaging 
Distribution Courses (credits approximate) 
Clinical Rotations (credits approximate)

Total Credits 

2
9

2-10


12-20

Year 4 (all credits approximate)
Summer Term Credits Fall Term Credits Spring Term Credits
Clinical Rotations 8 Clinical Rotations 20 Clinical Rotations
Distribution Courses
10
8
All Students must successfully complete the required Foundation Courses listed here
 

Clinical Rotations

All students must also complete VTMED 5612, Fourth Year Clinical Seminar, and satisfactorily complete a total of 26 credits of Core Clinical Rotations and 14 credits of Pathway Clinical Rotations and 6 credits of elective rotations.

Clinical Rotations (Course VI)
Core Rotations
Credits
VTMED 5600 Ambulatory & Production Medicine 
VTMED 5601 Community Practice Service: 
VTMED 5602 Small-Animal Medicine 
VTMED 5603 Small-Animal Surgery: Soft Tissue 
VTMED 5604 Large-Animal Medicine 
VTMED 5605 Large-Animal Surgery 
VTMED 5606 Anesthesiology 
VTMED 5607 Dermatology 
VTMED 5608 Ophthalmology 
VTMED 5609 Pathology 
VTMED 5610 Imaging 
VTMED 5611 Small-Animal Emergency & Critical Care or 
VTMED 6614 Large Animal Emergency & Critical Care* 
VTMED 5612 Fourth-Year Clinical Seminar 
VTMED 5613 Small Animal Surgery: Orthopedics 

2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
2

*Students in the Zoo/Wildlife or Production animal pathway may choose either Small Animal or Large Animal Emergency & Critical Care, provided the maximum number of students allowed on Large Animal E/CC is not exceeded.

Other Clinical Rotations (Set VI; Minimum 6 credits required)
 
Rotation
Credits
VTMED 6600 Theriogenology Service
VTMED 6601 Cardiology Service 
VTMED 6602 Laboratory Animal Medicine 
VTMED 6603 Clinical Wildlife and Exotic Animal Medicine 
VTMED 6605 Special Opportunities in Clinical Veterinary Medicine 
VTMED 6608 Clinical Oncology 
VTMED 6613 Equine Specialty 
VTMED 6614 Large Animal Emergency and Critical Care 
VTMED 6615 Special Topics in Ambulatory & Production Medicine 
VTMED 6616 Dentistry
VTMED 6618 Clinical Neurology 
VTMED 6619 Clinical Pathology Rotation 
VTMED 6623 Clinical Rotation in Shelter Medicine
VTMED 6624 Primary Care Surgery 
VTMED 6627 Farrier Skills for Veterinarians 
VTMED 6628 Clinical Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

2
2
2
variable
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2

Pathways

In addition to completing all core rotations, each student must also complete 1 of 6 Clinical Pathways, for a total of 14 credits (7 Blocks)
 
Small Animal Pathway
Equine Pathway
General (Mixed) Pathway

Primary Care Surgery
Small Animal Medicine or Clinical Neurology
Anesthesia
Clinical Neurology
Small Animal Emergency/Critical Care
Cardiology
Oncology
Pathway Advisors: Dr. Miller & Dr. Irby

Large Animal Medicine
Large Animal Soft Tissue Surgery
Anesthesia or Neurology
Large Animal Emergency/Critical Care
Large Animal Orthopedic Surgery
Theriogenology
Equine Specialty Rotation
Pathway Advisors: Dr. Radcliffe & Dr. Perkins

Neurology
Large Animal Medicine
Small Animal or Large Animal Emergency/Critical Care*
Ambulatory
Large Animal Surgery
Cardiology or Oncology
Primary Care Surgery
*Students in this pathway may choose based on space availability.
Pathway Advisors: Dr. Mary Smith & Dr. Collins

Exotic Pets/Small Animal Pathway
Zoo and Wildlife Pathway
Production Animal Pathway

Neurology
Primary Care Surgery
Anesthesia or Small Animal Emergency/Critical Care
Oncology
Lab Animal Medicine or Small Animal Medicine
Exotics/Zoo (2 blocks)
Pathway Advisors: Dr. Morrisey & Dr. Abou-Madi

Small Animal Medicine
Large Animal Medicine
Cardiology
Theriogenology
Exotics/Zoo (3 blocks)
Pathway Advisors: Dr. Morrisey & Dr. Abou-Madi
Ambulatory (2 blocks)
Large Animal Medicine
Large Animal Soft Tissue Surgery
Special Topics in Ambulatory and Production Medicine
Theriogenology
Primary Care Surgery
Pathway Advisors: Dr. McArt & Dr. Nguyen

Please Note: If a rotation is listed in the "core" and again in a "pathway", the second offering is intended to build upon core knowledge.  Substitutions can be made for rotations that are repeated in the pathway.  Permission for opting out of rotations is at the discretion of the pathway advisors and meeting other requirements for the changes. Requests for changes and/or additions to Clinical Rotation Schedule must be requested in writing via email to the registrar at least ONE MONTH PRIOR to start date of the requested change or addition. Changes are made based upon availability.

Distribution (Elective Courses)

Distribution courses are designed to increase the student's understanding of the basic sciences and build upon his/her expanding clinical knowledge base. They represent the "structured choice" portion of the curriculum, allowing students to explore areas of interest or pursue specific topics in greater depth. The range of educational formats used is highly variable — lecture, discussion, independent project, laboratory, small-group tutorials. Faculty are encouraged to be creative and to experiment in the development of innovative formats. The number of students in each distribution course varies from fewer than six to more than eighty. Distribution courses are grouped in sets according to their association with a Foundation course. Students are required to take a sufficient number of courses to satisfy the minimum number of credit requirements for each set.
Distribution Course Descriptions

Scheduling
Distribution courses are scheduled during designated periods of each the four years of the curriculum. These courses are scheduled during two eight-week intervals (Periods A-B and Periods C-D). Period A-B starts in late January and ends in the middle of March. Period C-D starts in late March and ends in the middle of May. First second and third-year students enroll in the first Distribution period (Period A-B), and may not take Distribution courses offered in C-D period. Only,fourth-year students may enroll in C-D distribution courses. In general, students are not permitted to enroll in Distribution courses while they are enrolled in Foundation courses. There are a very small number of exceptions to this (e.g. Poisonous Plants; Senior Seminar).

Credits
Students are required to complete 31 credits from non-hospital based Distribution courses for the veterinary degree. This represents approximately 7 credits in year one, 7 in year two, and an average of 9 credits in year three and 8 in year four. Students must earn additional credits beyond the minimum for each set in order to meet the required number for graduation. Although enrollment in some courses is restricted to students in years three and four, many other courses are available to students in the last three years or in all four years of the curriculum. This allows students from different classes to take these courses simultaneously and to benefit from peer interaction. All students in the DVM Program must be enrolled as full-time students. Students must carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester to maintain their full-time status. There is a 23.5 credit limit per term.

Informational Meeting
To assist first-year students in choosing Distribution courses, an informational meeting is held in the fall that allows for questions and answers, and provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the range of courses from which to choose. Most students find talking with upperclassmen particularly helpful in making decisions about which courses to take; it is also useful to seek the advice of faculty. While it may seem daunting to complete 31 Distribution credits in four years, the vast majority of students have no trouble meeting the requirements for Distribution credits by the time they graduate. Because first-year students are enrolled in VTMED 5220: Neuroanatomy, a demanding 2-credit Foundation course, it is strongly recommended that they do not enroll in more than 7 Distribution credits. Generally, first-year students will also take a 3-credit Distribution course associated with The Animal Body (Set IR), which will further their understanding of anatomy in a species other than the dog. Students should choose their remaining Distribution courses carefully, to ensure that the workload is manageable.

Fall Semester Distribution Courses
First-year students should not enroll in any Distribution courses during the Fall term. Very few Distribution courses are offered in the Fall term. Second, third and fourth year students may enroll in them if their schedules permit. Students wishing to enroll must do so using the Student Service Center at http://studentcenter.cornell.edu by the stated add/drop deadline. Students with questions about adding or dropping a course should refer to the Add/Drop policy in the College and University Policies section (Chapter 4) of this Handbook or contact the College Registrar.

Spring Semester Distribution Courses
The college participates in online pre-enrollment for Spring semester courses. Once the list of available courses is posted (usually in mid- September), each student must login to Cornell’s student center http://studentcenter.cornell.edu and enter his or her course choices according to the instructions provided. The pre-enrollment dates change every year, but for the most part, start at the end of October and run through the first part of November. Each student is required to verify that his/her choice of courses and grade options (if a choice of grade option is offered) are correctly listed and clearly identify any errors (incorrect course or grade option, missing course, etc.) on the self-service website at: http://studentcenter.cornell.edu.

It is imperative that students review and verify their enrollment information for accuracy and completeness. any corrections and errors must be promptly reported. No credit or grade will be given for courses a student attends without being properly enrolled and, conversely, a failing grade will be assigned to courses in which a student enrolls by subsequently neither attends or officially drops.

Curriculum Milestones

The DVM program includes three Curriculum Milestones that each student must successfully complete before advancing to the next phase of the program. These exams assess students’ knowledge, technical ability, and other clinical skills that develop across a number of required courses, and many aspects of the professional curriculum. The Milestones are clinical skills assessments held at key points during the preclinical portion of the curriculum. They help to document developmental steps, and ensure that students are competent in a number of fundamental skills before taking on more complex challenges as they progress through the program. As degree requirements, the milestones are not affiliated with a particular course. Rather, when successfully completed, the results are recorded on the student’s transcript. The Milestones are administered using the format of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). To help students track their progress, audits of their degree requirements include the Milestones.

The guidelines for the three Milestones examinations are:

First Year OSCE (Physical Examination) Second Year OSCE (Surgical Skills Third Year OSCE (Clinical Skills)
1. Appropriate remediation and retesting will be conducted as needed for any student who does not pass.

2. If, after remediation, a student does not pass this exam, the Class Teachers will be convened, and a decision will be made by that group
on how to handle the student’s technical or knowledge-based limitation(s), based upon the College’s Academic Standards and the Technical
Skills guidelines.
1. Students are required to pass the Surgical Skills OSCE before participating in surgical exercises laboratories.

2. Appropriate remediation and retesting will be conducted as
needed for any student who does not pass this exam.

3. If, after remediation, a student does not pass the Surgical Skills OSCE, the Class Teachers will be convened, and a decision will be made by that group on how to handle the student’s technical
or knowledge-based limitation(s), based upon the College’s
Academic Standards and the Technical Skills guidelines.
1. A student who does not pass the Third Year OSCE will be permitted to work on their area(s) of weakness
during the clinical year of training.

2. Clinical rotations will be identified in which the
deficient skill(s) can be reassessed.

3. If those identified rotation(s) is/are successfully completed, the Milestone will be considered completed.

4. If a student does not pass the Third Year OSCE and then demonstrates deficiencies in one or more of the identified clinical rotations,
or, in the rare case in which a student’s performance on the Third Year
OSCE is deemed extremely deficient (for instance, failing grades on all
portions of the OSCE), the Class Teachers will be convened to make
recommendations, based upon the College’s Academic Standards and
the Technical Skills guidelines.

Graduation Requirements

To receive the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree, candidates must successfully complete curricular requirements , pay all fees, and be recommended for graduation by the faculty of the college. Graduation requirements for each class can be found at http://students.vet.cornell.edu under Student Services - Registrar (choose your class year in the sidebar). At the conclusion of each Foundation course, the college faculty reviews records and conduct of students. Students whose grades are not satisfactory may be denied permission to register in the subsequent term, or to graduate, or may be assigned varying degrees of academic warning or probation.

Annual Updates
Progress toward degree requirements may be accessed anytime at http://studentessentials.cornell.edu under "my requirements"
The Distribution Course Worksheet helps students keep track of this information, and includes a list of Distribution course numbers, organized by set.
 

Opportunity Blocks

Students in their 3rd and 4th years (prerequisites VTMED 5500 and VTMED 5510) may obtain off-campus clinical experience for academic credit in institutional settings with established teaching programs, or in facilities offering unique clinical or research experiences. Proposed programs must be approved by the faculty coordinators of the opportunities block who will determine appropriate university cred-its.  Opportunity Blocks are approved by the Curriculum Committee.  If you have specific questions about opportunity blocks, please contact the Vet College Registrar, Paige Frey at pjy1@cornell.edu.  A searchable database of opportunity blocks and externships is available at http://students.vet.cornell.edu (follow the Student Services and Registrar links). All students who pursue opportunity blocks are required to submit an anonymous evaluation of their experience immediately upon their re-turn. The list of externship and opportunity blocks and any associated evaluations are available to view at http://students.vet.cornell.edu (fol-low the Student Services and Registrar links).

Special Educational Opportunities