|Volume 21, Number 2||Fall, 1994|
The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC), functioning as the Northern Virginia campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM), began operation in August 1984. Post-DVM clinical residency programs recognized by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2 year) and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (3 year) were started as nondegree programs at the EMC in July 1986. Initially, residency funding was from hospital (client) revenue. The goal of the residency program was to train clinical specialists who would become board certified in their respective specialties.
The graduate program of the VMRCVM (founded in 1978) was also initiated in 1986, two years after the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) graduated its first class. In contrast to many Departments and Colleges at Virginia Tech, the CVM has only one interdisciplinary graduate program which is listed in the Graduate School as the Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences (VMS).
Beginning in July 1988, all applicants for the post-DVM clinical residency program were reviewed by the Graduate School of Virginia Tech and by the VMS Graduate Affairs Committee to determine if the applicant met the criteria for admission to the Graduate Department. Acceptable applicants were further evaluated by the Department Chairperson and the Dean of the College before the final decision was communicated by the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies to the Dean of the Graduate School.
The new post-DVM clinical resident/graduate student was required to complete the Master of Science degree during the term of the residency program (parallel program). The internal medicine residency was increased in duration to 3 years to accommodate the additional graduate course work and the total number of residents was increased from 4 to 5. State funded graduate stipends (salary) were provided for clinical residents in the combined program. Resident/graduate students were responsible for tuition and major health care coverage, until private support could be found to help cover these expenses.
The current resident/graduate student program has the flexibility to allow for PhD training and although State funded graduate stipends have not been provided past the third year of the residency, graduate tuition support through the CVM is now available. Alternate funding from private sources, research grants and hospital revenue has also been used to provide salary support for additional resident/graduate students and for students pursuing a PhD.
Nonconforming residency programs, approved by the credentials committee of the specialty college, have been accommodated at the EMC (off-campus site) but require great flexibility on the part of participating institutions and unrelenting commitment by the resident/graduate student, the student's major advisor and advisory committee, and Diplomates in the other specialty areas.
The VMRCVM's graduate program is designed to provide the flexibility to develop a scholarly educational experience that will help to prepare a resident/graduate student to become a clinician scholar and to execute scientific research/ clinical investigations that will expand the base of veterinary and biomedical knowledge. In addition, the residency program is expected to provide the advanced clinical training, caseload, and resources necessary to enable the resident to pass the board examinations and to meet the requirements to become a diplomate in a specialty college. The Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, the Dean of the VMRCVM, and the Faculty and staff of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center and of the College of Veterinary Medicine have worked in a complementary manner to ensure the success of this program.
Graduate (Post-DVM) Education -- the Future
It should be relatively easy to discuss and debate the pro's and con's of resident vs. degree programs-parallel or sequential, especially after having had the benefit of reading the comments provided by the other panel members. Developing a VISION for what we hope to become when we "grow up" and defining, describing and characterizing the key elements of a "model" program for post-DVM graduate education presents a somewhat more difficult yet exciting challenge for our profession.
Since the early 1960s, veterinary clinical specialties have advanced the sophistication of veterinary practice. The formation of specialty colleges with requirements for board certification has helped to provide quality assurance in these advanced training programs. In my opinion, the recruitment and training of veterinary scientists should continue to be a goal for our resident/graduate student programs regardless of their final place of employment. Veterinary scientists are no less important in private specialty practices than they are in veterinary teaching hospitals. Regardless of place of employment, veterinary scientists have the opportunity to sustain an appropriate intellectual environment that will allow them to make significant contributions to veterinary medical education, teaching and research.