UC Davis Vet School – Year 1 – First Year Fall Curriculum

Happy New Year everyone! With one semester of vet school under my belt, I wanted to share a little bit about the Fall Year 1 Curriculum.

Length: 2 weeks

Many upperclassmen told me that Prologue was “basically summer camp.” Especially compared to other blocks, I would agree with this assessment! The first week consisted of orientation activities and team building activities, mostly with your “small group” of 8-10 people that you stay with for group activities for the entire first year. The second week was more orientation along with some communications lectures and our first PBL (problem based learning).┬áThe main disadvantage was that the days were often 8am-6pm with a social activity afterwards, which was simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting.

Even during the first two weeks, it became clear how much Davis emphasizes having a work-life balance and being aware of the mental health issues that are so prevalent in this profession. I expected to be told how hard I was going to have to work, but instead I was told that grades really aren’t important (C= DVM)! I was able to do well and maintain a work-life balance throughout last semester, and I plan on continuing to do so.

Basic Foundations
Length: 8 weeks

Basic Foundations is a pass/fail block that is a survey of a ton of science concepts that are relevant to veterinary medicine. There were many different lecturers, and topics ranged from enzymology to pathology to various body systems to epidemiology. The block consisted of primarily lectures with supplementary histology labs, during which you look at the assigned slides on your own time until you feel you understand the material. It was really difficult to jump topics and have everything from genetics to neoplasia on one exam, but since it was pass/fail it was definitely doable. It was a little overwhelming at times, but upperclassmen assured us that the important concepts will be repeated again, which I have already found to be true. The PBLs were challenging but a great way to really figure out how to work well with your particular small group. Overall I would recommend using the block to find the best note-taking and studying strategies for yourself, and don’t stress out too much!

Immunology, Hematology, and Coagulation
Length: 3 weeks

The first week of this block was a crash course in immunology, with very detailed lectures and not much time to process the material before the quizzes. After that it got much easier, as the hematology content was not too fast-paced and pretty straightforward. The labs in this block involved learning to read and analyze CBCs; it was fun to be doing something so directly applicable to our future day-to-day life. The end of the block centered on coagulation and TBLs (team based learning), in which you take a quiz individually, then again in your group, and then do some group application exercises. If you didn’t believe that the group is smarter than the individual, you will after those quizzes! Then the cumulative exam consisted of data interpretation and picture identification. This block was not too difficult, had a variety of assessment types, and felt immediately applicable, causing many of us to really enjoy it.

Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition
Length: 4 weeks

This was definitely the hardest block of the semester. The professors were amazing and were really great teachers, but there was just so much material, much of which was memorization. The pharmacology, toxicology, and nutrition material was all integrated, so it really took some effort to keep everything straight. The block consisted of primarily lectures, with a few easy lab assignments and a couple group CBLs (case based learning, basically just a group assignment based on a case). My best tip for this block (and the previous one) would be to make tables of the material and really just focus on the major concepts. There was simply no way we could have fit all of the details about all of the toxic plants and nutrients into our heads. That being said, it is definitely possible to do very well in the block!

Clinical Skills
Throughout the semester, we also got to work with animals in handling and restraint labs as well as physical exam labs on all the major species: dogs, cats, cows, sheep, horses, rabbits, and rats. These were a lot of fun and a great way for everyone to get introduced to species they hadn’t worked with before. Plus, the colony dogs and kittens are super cute, and they get adopted out to students at the end of the year.

VMTH Mini Rotations
On several Thursdays throughout the semester, half of the class had a rotation in the teaching hospital, while the other half got the day off. Though some rotations were longer and more involved than others, and you don’t get to choose what you do at all, it’s a good way to get introduced to how the VMTH runs before fourth year clinics. These rotation days continue throughout first and second year.

Davis really values feedback and is constantly modifying the curriculum based on student evaluations. Overall it is clear how much the faculty are invested in students and our learning, and I am pleased with how the first semester went.