All Creatures Great and Small

One of the most exciting parts of veterinary medicine is getting to work with many different breeds and species of animals; it’s what separates veterinary medicine from human medicine. Whenever I tell someone that I’m starting vet school, they always ask about the program– the length, clinical rotations, internship and residency requirements–especially since this is LMU-CVM’s first class of students. In previous posts I’ve discussed the application process that I went through this past year to become part of the first class. Now, I want to talk about LMU-CVM’s program as well as the classes and experiences that I will be going through over the next four years.

Pre-Clinical Curriculum Overview

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My first year consists of many basic science courses and introductory clinical labs. Anatomy and physiology are designed to give an in-depth look at the structures of different animals (like dogs, horses, and ruminants) and how they contribute to the animal’s function. Veterinary histology will teach me about the microscopic structural features of tissues and how pathologic changes contribute to disease. Parasitology looks at different internal and external parasites that can infect an animal and the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these infections. One Health looks at the medical profession as a whole, and how veterinarians can work with other medical professionals to keep animals and people healthy; this class will also teach me life skills to be a successful veterinarian, like balancing work with personal life, ethics, and personal finances. In clinical skills lecture and lab, I will learn how to use my knowledge of anatomy to perform a thorough physical exam and palpate abnormalities, as well as learn how to tie surgical knots, handle instruments with my non-dominant hand, and communicate efficiently with nervous or scared clients.

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Second semester courses continue anatomy, physiology, One Health, and clinical skills. Clinical skills becomes more hands-on as I get to auscultate (listen to) heart, lung and bowel sounds, and learn how to draw blood. I also learn about the structural organization and molecular function of cells and organelles in cellular biology. Molecular fundamentals of medicine discusses clinical application of bacteriology, immunology, virology, and parasitology.

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Second year begins with pathophysiology, or the study of different diseases. I get to learn about different drug classes, effects, and drug metabolism in pharmocology. Radiology and diagnostic imaging teaches about ultrasounds, computerized topography, magnetic resonance imaging, and radiology (x-ray); not only how to interpret these tests, but also how to take quality images and troubleshoot poor images. Clinical pathology builds on the principles of histology by examining abnormal findings in blood, biochemical, and histological tests and how these tests can lead to a diagnosis. One Health continues to discuss the human-animal relationship by studying the transfer of zoonotic diseases in the context of pathophysiology. Clinical skills develops large animal examination skills and interpretation, clinical procedure skills, and client communication. Toxicology looks at poisons, toxic plants, and toxic effects of pharmocologic agents, such as by overdose or accidental ingestion. Veterinary nutrition exposes me to the digestion and metabolism of nutrients and how improper nutrition can contribute to disease, as well as how to balance a diet for small and large animals.

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The fourth semester continues pathophysiology and a more in depth look at clinical pharmocology. Theriogenology talks about reproductive physiology and production of offspring in large and small animals, and how diseases of the reproductive tract can impact pregnancy and delivery. Avian and exotic animal medicine focuses on the diseases and medicine of non-domestic animals, such as birds and reptiles, that are often kept as pets. One Health looks at food animal production and how it relates to human and public health. Clinical skills continues to develop motor skills as they pertain to surgery, and teaches the administration of anesthesia. Anesthesia and analgesia discusses the induction of anesthetic and analgesic agents, monitoring vital signs and anesthesia, and how to maintain anesthetic equipment. Surgery explores proper aseptic technique, operative procedures, and mastery of sutures and ligatures.

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Third year is all about surgical and non-surgical diseases of small animals (dogs and cats), horses, and food animals (cattle, swine, and other large animals). One Health goes global, looking at foreign and emerging diseases with zoonotic potential, potential bioterroism agents, and the differences in international veterinary practices. Clinical skills focuses on large animal and equine procedures, such as gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal examinations, small animal specialty exams, and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

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The final pre-clinical eight week mini-semester introduces me to practice management-how to manage the business side of a veterinary practice in addition to the medical side. Clinical skills focus on spays, neuters, and managing anesthesia so that each student can experience the different roles of the surgical team. Introduction to clinics places me in a group with three other students as we rotate through small animal, large animal, shelter medicine, and ambulatory medicine at LMU-CVM in preparation for our clinical courses.

If you would like more information about the LMU-CVM curriculum, check out the Academics page or shoot me an email at


Posted on August 12, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Good luck, you’re gonna love it 😉

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