A new model for companion-animal primary health care education

J Vet Med Educ. Fall 2012;39(3):210-6. doi: 10.3138/jvme.0512-035R.


The majority of graduates from veterinary schools in the United States and Canada join companion-animal practices. In most schools, their clinical learning and client interaction experiences occurred primarily in referral teaching hospitals. These specialty hospitals play an essential role in the veterinary care continuum by providing advanced training, clinically-based research, and sophisticated diagnostics and procedures. However, they are not ideal as the principal setting for preparing veterinarians to bring value to the primary health care practices that they join. A new model for companion-animal primary health care education and service delivery has been developed at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. The nine integrated programs, which have defined learning objectives and outcome assessments, include communication, nutrition, rehabilitation, behavior, welfare, One Health (ecosystem approach to health), preventive and general medicine, good citizenship, and research. The learning experience begins with first-year student veterinarians and takes place in a practice setting with paying clients from the community. Significantly, the students are learning in an environment that emphasizes the importance of the client experience, teamwork, and practice management while ensuring quality health care for patients. The future of companion-animal primary health care and the optimal preparation of veterinarians are critical issues for the veterinary colleges and profession. Enhanced research into new models for primary health care education and service delivery is urgently needed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Education, Veterinary / standards*
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Ontario
  • Pets*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*