Naomi Lavelle, MA
How has your involvement in student clubs impacted you and/or the community you serve? The many clubs I am involved in allowed me to learn skills that I would otherwise not have learned until I was out in practice; the clubs I was involved in were ZWEACC, SCAAEP, SCAABP, and SCSFT. The field trips we took to see facilities and learn the inner workings were essential to my learning and comprehension of veterinary medicine.
Why did you choose WesternU? I chose Western University of Health Science’s College of Veterinary Medicine for my education because I was intrigued by the problem-based learning and student directed curriculum. In retrospect, I unknowingly practiced student directed learning throughout my undergraduate experience. While some students may desire the structure of a traditional curriculum, WesternU’s format has helped me discover untapped potential through confronting various challenges.
Brittay Yates, BS
What would you tell a prospective student? The PBL process by far has been my most valuable tool in terms of my education. Prior to beginning the DVM program, I didn’t truly understand what the PBL process was or what it fully entailed, but now having completed my first two years in the program, I realize it’s more valuable to me than I ever imagined. Yes it is frustrating 90% of the time to work to teach yourself how to be a doctor, but in the end, who’s in that exam room? It’s you and the patient, not you and your lecturer. PBL has taught me how to think for myself and find my own resources when in doubt.
Jennie Scudder, MS
What would you tell a prospective student about WesternU? WesternU is truly the future of medicine. As students, we begin on rotations our first day and use first hand clinical experiences in conjunction with small groups and classroom settings to enhance our knowledge. Beginning in a clinical setting so early helps to develop confidence and a better understanding of how to approach cases in a classroom setting. As I enter my third year, I am excited for the challenges of off-campus rotations and feel ready for these challenges because of the preparation I have received from my WesternU education in the last two years.
Kristopher Irizarry, PhD
Research interests: I am developing a canine genomics research program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. My research focuses on the development and use of genetic-based diagnostic tools in veterinary medicine. This is of great importance because many animal diseases exhibit breed-specific associations. Through the development of effective genetic diagnostics coupled with specific breeding strategies, the prevalence of certain diseases can be reduced in predisposed breeds.
WesternU distinctive: Our pre-clinical curriculum employs a problem-based learning educational style, which places students at the center of learning. Because of our unique educational philosophy, our students are provided with an effective student-to-teacher ratio of about 7 to 1 for the first two years of our veterinary program. Once students enter the third year, they leave the classroom and learn in real practices alongside real veterinarians working on real patients owned by real clients! During this phase of our curriculum, the effective student to teacher ratio is 3 to 1.
This unique program produces veterinarians who are well trained, excellent team members and life-long learners.
Beyond the classroom: I am involved in the research club, the behavior club as well as other clubs pertaining to zoo animal medicine, wildlife, and food safety.
Interprofessional collaboration: I have no doubt that the interprofessional program will significantly enhance students’ learning experiences at WesternU. Imagine, if you will, an environment where students across a variety of health science professions are allowed to interact with one another across college boundaries. Further imagine that nurses, physician assistants and veterinarians are part of a 21st-century team of students tackling real-world health problems that affect every family.
Gary Johnston, BA, DVM, MS, DACVR
“The third and fourth years of our curriculum enhance our students’ learning in a clinical setting; a feature unique to our program. These unique learning opportunities in their third and fourth years, produce students that are well prepared following their graduation.”
Professional interests: Development of computer based instructional technology in anatomy and radiology to facilitate the incorporation of clinical based materials in the curriculum.
Gini Barrett, BS
“Interprofessional education is an exciting, brilliant and important idea. The ability to look at clients/patients/people in all their complexities will enhance the ability of medical professionals to understand them, to communicate with them better, and therefore to improve care. As society and medical systems become more complicated, the ability to see the whole picture and talk to the whole individual becomes more and more important.”
Peggy Barr, DVM, PhD
Dr. Barr joined the CVM faculty in December 2003 as an Associate Professor of Veterinary Virology and Immunology. Some of her accomplishments include:
Served as chairperson for the Admissions and Scholastic Standing Committee, and as a member on the Curriculum, Student Affairs, and Research Advisory Committees.
Honored with an Outstanding Educator Award in the Merrill Presidential Scholar program at Cornell
Served as an infectious disease consultant to the US Cheetah Species Survival Plan
Worked to enhance the interest of girls in science as a workshop leader in the Expanding Your Horizons program for 6th to 10th grade girls
Nina Nardi, DVM
Why WesternU: I chose WesternU for a number of reasons: commitment to a family-like learning environment that made me feel welcome from day one, dedication to a reverence for life philosophy that you don’t get at other medical institutions and the commitment to life long learning that is critical to all medical professions.
Value of a WesternU education: I would say the commitment to life long learning as well as developing the ability to teach oneself and come up with answers to a new and challenging case is the most valuable aspect of WesternU’s veterinary program. I’ve had senior veterinarians impressed with my ability to deal with new cases, but I’m able to do so because of the problem based learning and teaching methods we were exposed to at WesternU.
WesternU distinctive: I would have to say problem based learning is still unique in the eyes of many traditional veterinary programs. Problem based learning is a unique way to learn and create a basis for life long learning. In practice, every day, every case is approached in ways very similar to what we learned at WesternU and it really helps one prepare to tackle the unknown.
Cynthia Kinney, DVM – Charter Class Alumni Representative
WesternU distinctive: I LOVED the problem based learning because I retained more knowledge and it is sort of like solving a mystery, which is often what you are doing in practice. I also love the reverence for life philosophy because I believe no harm should come to animals for the benefit of an education.
Most memorable clinical experience: There are many, but my most memorable clinical experience was a beef animal rotation (I am a small animal practitioner) and I had the opportunity to hand raise a calf that would have been raised for veal. It was wonderful.
Why WesternU: Problem based learning, reverence for life philosophy, location, and Dr. Shirley Johnston.
Value of a WesternU education: Redundant, but problem based learning, the veterinary issues course, and the emphasis on communication.
Best advice: I loved my experience at WesternU. If you want to be a part of a challenging, compassionate, interesting, and excellent program, consider making the CVM a part of your journey in life.
Tracy Yen, DVM
Time commitment: Time commitments vary, but my experience has involved a minimum of 10- to 12-hour days, five days a week. A recent rotation (Core Surgery) was about 70 hours/week. In addition, we have daily case logs and on our core rotations (Internal Medicine and Surgery) we have daily SOAPs and surgery reports due.
I was an active class officer and have been involved with our school’s chapter of the AVMA (president, class representative).
WesternU distinctive: I do like the variety of clinical settings we get to practice in and how we are able to structure our fourth-year curriculum.
Academic environment: I have organized a variety of study groups, mainly an anatomy study group outside of class who met independently to review concepts.
Career impact: I think I have learned how to function independently yet also be a good team player. There always is more than one way to achieve the same goal and other people’s opinions are valuable even if you don’t agree with them. I think our program has focused heavily on interpersonal skills and that will help all of us go far.
Miranda Noseck, DVM
WesternU distinctive: For me, the most unique thing about the veterinary medicine curriculum was getting to plan my own fourth year. I had the opportunity to be a part of EIGHT different equine hospitals across the country. This not only allowed me to network with some of the top professionals in the industry, but it gave me the chance to see how the “best of the best” practice veterinary medicine.
Most memorable clinical experience: My first case of equine hypoxic-ischemic encephalomyelopathy. It was a clydesdale foal and it was my job to give her the tools to survive. Though I did not get much rest for three days, the reward of seeing the foal being able to finally nurse on her own was well worth my sleep deprivation. Then seeing the foal running on the pasture with her mare was unlike any feeling I have ever experienced. I am definitely in the right profession!
Value of a WesternU education: The most valuable aspect of my education was getting to be out in private practice for third and, especially, fourth year. I met a lot of students from other schools during externships and came to the conclusion that my school provided me with the opportunity to see a huge case load compared to other schools.
Best advice: Be prepared to work harder in a PBL curriculum compared to a traditional curriculum, but also be ready to reap greater benefits!
Benefits of being a charter class member: Being a pioneer is the path less chosen. It was not easy. Be prepared to experience many ups as well as many downs with a new curriculum.
Terence Krentz, DVM
WesternU distinctive: The small student centered learning groups were a great way to get a lot of personal attention from faculty members as well as classmates, which helped to solidify my learning. I think most other programs don’t have as much interaction with faculty as students need.
Most memorable clinical experience: I remember my first surgery, a feline spay. I was always an anatomy nerd, but nothing can prepare you for the first time you open an abdomen. It made me realize the extent to how serious our job is and how much responsibility we carry for the well-being of our patients.
Location, Location: Honestly, when the sun rose & set, I was still in California. For a California native that means a lot. I would have had to go abroad otherwise & while as exciting as that would have been, I didn’t want to leave my family that far behind.
Value of a WesternU education: Hands-on clinical experience was the key. At WesternU we had hands on experience before a number of universities that offer standard veterinary medicine programs, and I think that will give us a competitive edge as we move out into practice. I am currently on a small animal medicine and surgery internship.
Michael Kavanagh, DVM
WesternU distinction: The Problem-Based Learning curriculum is a unique way of learning that really fit my learning style.
Most memorable clinical experience(s): All of my clinical experiences enhanced my learning objective. At WesternU, I was able to create a well-rounded clinical program to prepare myself as a practicioner
Beyond the classroom: I was a member of SCAVMA and the Cloven Hoof Club. The experiences I had with these organizations encouraged me to take a proactive role in my community.
Best thing about WesternU: The general philosophy helped create an environment where students helped each other as well as the people in the community.
Career impact: We were all encouraged to develop our interpersonal communication skills and that’s been invaluable.
Best advice: It takes hard work and dedication, but it pays off.
Jonathan Williams, DVM
WesternU distinctive: The PBL curriculum – it is unlike any other vet school as in we don’t have lectures all day. We work in small groups in order to learn about the various learning issues that present themselves.
Most memorable clinical experience: My most memorable clinical experience was my whole 4th year. Since we don’t have a teaching hospital, we get to travel around the country and visit many different places and hospitals. This allowed me to practice medicine with varying demographics and different methods.
Value of a WesternU education: The most valuable aspect was all of the clinical experience I was exposed to. From the first week, I was seeing patients in our wellness clinic. The clinical experiences only increased through the years and includes a large amount in the 3rd year, more than in any other vet school.
About the College: WesternU-CVM program is a very unique and different learning system that I believe works well. It prepares you to work with animals and people in a productive way. By the end of school you should feel competent to go right into practice. The university as a whole is a great learning environment. The university population continues to grow as well as the notoriety. Having an ambitious president is definitely a benefit.
Benefits of being a charter class/2nd class member: Being one of the first classes allows you to set the reputation of the school. People may doubt your skills because you are from the new school, but that gives you a chance to prove your worth and show off your WesternU education!