By Leanne Niblock
Canada’s fifth Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is ready to accept Alberta veterinary students into its program.
The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) has been granted approval by Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education and Technology and has received a “Letter of Reasonable Assurance” from the Council on Education, which represents the Canadian and American Veterinary Medicine Associations.
Both of these approvals were required before the faculty could begin to accept students into the new program.
“This is a major milestone for us,” said Dr. Alastair Cribb, dean. “A lot of hard work has brought us to this point: recruiting faculty, writing the program, conducting valuable research and building our learning community. Now, we are eager to begin the process of accepting the first Calgary veterinary class.”
In June, a delegation representing the Council on Education and the Campus Alberta Quality Council visited the faculty’s campus and partners to ensure that plans would meet the needs and expectations of future students.
“Veterinary medicine is crucial to advancing both animal and public health,” said U of C president Harvey Weingarten. “This faculty will be a leader in providing excellent undergraduate and graduate training and research. With our partners in the community, we are building much-needed capacity in Alberta.”
The first class of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students will begin classes in the fall of 2008.
Faculty members and graduate students at the vet school have already been hard at work preparing for the first cohort.
“We have more than 30 faculty members on board already, many of them are working on research, and we have about the same number of graduate and post-doctoral students,” says Cribb.
The founding dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cribb led a close-knit team through the challenging accreditation process this summer and is now looking forward to welcoming the 30 Alberta residents who will make up the first class.
To ensure those students get off on the right foot, Cribb appointed Dr. Carmen Fuentealba, a pathologist recruited from the Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California as assistant dean, student affairs.
“My mission is to advocate for students, facilitate students’ academic success, enhance personal development, support student wellness, promote a sense of community at the UCVM and support student groups and their governing bodies,” she says.
Preparing for the undergrads isn’t the only work going on behind the walls of the Health Sciences Complex on the Foothills Campus.
Dr. Jay Cross, a researcher with more than 20 years of experience in the animal-human health field, is forging ahead with research and graduate education programs for the new faculty.
“As it stands now, our researchers bring in more than $6 million in operating grants and publish more than 100 research papers per year, and we are just getting started. We will be hiring more faculty and taking on more graduate students over the next two to three years,” he says.
Research and graduate education programs will be focused on areas of strength and importance in Alberta and will fall in line with the college’s areas of emphasis: production animal health, equine health, ecosystem and public health and investigative medicine.
“There are pressing animal and human health issues in Alberta, particularly related to emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, food safety and biosecurity that require research to inform changes in practice and policy,” says Cross.
UCVM is building even more capacity for animal health education and research by partnering with veterinarians and others in the community.
The Distributed Veterinary Learning Community, or DVLC, is made up of private and public practices, federal and provincial laboratories and agencies and other animal industry partners. It is a new concept for veterinary colleges, integrating education and research activities.
“My goal is to promote the diversity of the veterinary profession,” says Cribb. “As much as people understand veterinarians take care of animals, I want people to understand veterinarians take care of all of us.”
A total of 30 Alberta residents will be accepted for the undergraduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Prerequisite and other application information is on the web at www.vet.ucalgary.ca.