VA-MD Vet Med is one of only two veterinary schools in North America that has a tracking curriculum, starting in the second year of the DVM curriculum, where students can focus on, or "track," their primary area of interest. The new core/track/elective curriculum introduced in 1998 is intended to provide a core curriculum necessary for entry-level practice regardless of discipline, and an opportunity to receive additional instruction in areas of interest via track and elective courses.
What are the "track" choices?
At the end of the first year, students select one of five tracks:
- Small Animal - This track is based on the medicine and surgery of dogs and cats.
- Equine - As the name states, this track is focused on the medicine and surgery of horses.
- Food Animal - This track is based on medicine and surgery of cattle and includes other food and fiber-producing species.
- Mixed Species - Some students wish to do all species and for them the mixed track has the most flexibility in that students can choose from a "cafeteria" of track courses each semester without prerequisites from previous semesters. Students unsure of their career goals can choose the mixed species track to "cover their bases."
- Public/Corporate - For those interested in pursuing careers outside of the traditional realm of private clinical practice, we offer a public and corporate track. This track prepares students for careers in federal, state and local governments, private industry, international organizations, and non-profit institutions.
What are the benefits of tracking?
Tracking allows for a smaller number of students to be able to study their chosen species in more depth, including the opportunity for more in-depth lab experiences not possible for the whole class. Thus, students are considered more “job-ready” than would be possible in a traditional curriculum where the focus in on breadth. For example, in the Public and Corporate track there are courses titled “International Veterinary Medicine” and “Animals and Public Policy.”
In addition to courses specified for each track, there is a wide variety of elective courses from which to choose, ranging from complementary and behavior medicine through wildlife medicine to advanced public health.
Are there any disadvantages to tracking?
The disadvantage of the large number of track and elective courses (about 45) is that there is a limit to the number of credits a student can realistically manage per semester. See below for comments on licensing and career options.
If I am not in the track, can I enroll in a course in that track?
A track course for one student can usually (but not always) be taken as an elective course by another student in another track providing scheduling can be accomplished.
Can I change tracks?
A student can change tracks prior to enrollment for third year providing the prerequisites for the new track have been taken. There are only about 2 students per class who change track, usually from mixed to a specified species track.
Will the tracking curriculum prepare me for licensing exams?
The curriculum, regardless of track, is designed to enable a new graduate to have at least entry-level competency in all the major species. There is sufficient core material (over 70% of the curriculum is core for all students) to have the necessary knowledge to pass the pan-species national licensing examination, and where appropriate, state licensing exams (not all states have an examination as part of licensure). VA-MD Vet Med students in the tracking curriculum have maintained the same high pass rate in national examinations as was obtained in the previous traditional curriculum format.
Will tracking limit my career options? What if I choose the “wrong” track?
A decision to choose a career different from the selected track has not presented obstacles. Each year, new graduates obtain positions in species different from their track without reported problems. In addition, students are selected for post-graduate study, such as internships, in species different from their track.