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New Combined DVM/PhD Program Launched
The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has introduced a revised DVM/PhD program, designed to increase student success through a more structured curriculum, stronger administrative presence, and enhanced student support.
“There has been a combined DVM/ PhD program for several years, but it was much less structured and therefore much harder for a student to navigate,” said Dr. Jeffrey Wilusz, new Director of the DVM/PhD Program, and head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. “My previous experience with an MD/PhD program showed the importance of a planned curriculum for these students and ongoing student support. What we’ve been able to do here is incorporate changes to optimize numerous aspects of the program. These changes include formalizing many aspects of the program, setting clear standards and expectations, and giving participating students better guidance.”
In the first year of the seven-year program, students take PhD-related courses and participate in laboratory rotations so that they are able to select their research lab by the end of the first year. Students also are able to establish in-state residency during that first year. In years two and three of the program, students complete the first and second years of the Professional Veterinary Medical Program. Students then spend years four and five working on and completing their PhD, before returning to the PVM program to complete their final two years of veterinary school. During all the PhD and PVM years, students continue to maintain ties with their research laboratories.
In addition to their course and lab work, students also participate in group sessions every other week with Dr. Wilusz to discuss research, explore topics related to their course work, provide support to each other, and address concerns. These “journal club sessions” continue throughout the seven years and provide an important touchstone for students participating in the program.
“One of the goals of the College is to increase the number of veterinary students going into research and public health,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean of the College. “The new DVM/PhD program is a part of that effort, and we are very excited to see our first new students get on board this fall.”
Two students, Tim Kurt and Katrina Easton, are starting the DVM/PhD program this fall. In addition, six students who were in the original program will be grandfathered in under the structure of the previous program while being able to take advantage of new features from the revised DVM/PhD program. Those students are Laura Austgen, Jennifer Mackler, Martha Shearin, April Davis, Julita Ramirez, and Jim Perry.