Pomona, Calif.-Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine (Western U) is getting a new primary care
teaching hospital, complements of Banfield.
Dr. Scott Campbell, chairman and CEO of Banfield, The Pet Hospital, tells DVM Newsmagazine, that the primary care facility
will be built so that first and second-year veterinary students enrolled in the university will have a chance to learn about
routine veterinary care as part of new problem-based curriculum.
Campbell says the college has taken a truly innovative approach to veterinary education by focusing so heavily on practical
experience as a teaching tool and as a way to help build confidence in clinical judgment and the veterinary skills to be successful
in practice. He adds the new educational approach couldn't have happened without the "courageous leadership of Dr. Shirley
Johnston" dean of Western U .
"We are very excited to be able to play a part," he says.
The cost of the new 6,000-square-foot facility is about $8 million paid over a 10-year period. The hospital will be "very
much designed for teaching and learning," explains Dr. Hugh B. Lewis, senior vice president for practice development with
Banfield. Plans for the new hospital call for five to six exam rooms, a large treatment area and surgical suite, an X-ray
room and isolation facilities. The hospital will also have at least two conference rooms so students can meet with instructors.
Plans for this 6,000-square-foot primary care hospital at Western University will be used to teach first and second-year veterinary
students about routine care. At presstime, university officials had not yet set a date for ground-breaking.
Focus of curriculumWestern University's educational curriculum focuses heavily on "problem-based learning", which divides students into small
groups supervised by a faculty facilitator. Information is discovered and assimilated by the students in the context of a
real problem or case, thus improving retention and allowing for individual learning styles. Faculty-scheduled or student-requested
lectures and laboratories will augment problem-based learning sessions where appropriate, the university explains.
Western U is the first veterinary medical school in Southern California, and the first to open in the U.S. since 1983. Classes
began on Aug. 11 with 86 students from California and seven other states. Western U was granted provisional accreditation
status by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education.
Source of DVMsSince Banfield is a major employer of veterinarians, Campbell says the company has taken an active interest from the start
in trying to help solve the undersupply of veterinarians in southern California.
Lewis served on Western U's Advisory Council when the school was being planned with other educational veterans like Dr. Billy
E. Hooper a visiting scholar at Purdue University. Lewis explains the curriculum is very innovative in that it gets first-
and second-year students working with routine cases immediately in their educational experience.
"The goal is to get students to be able to recognize normalcy and the typical cases one sees in a primary care hospital. The
idea is to put them in a really practical environment."
Lewis adds, "Ninety-five percent of cases seen in a typical practice are routine. People need to be totally confident with
that work, so they are not struggling with that and the very complex cases at the same time."
As students move through their veterinary education, they will be exposed to more complicated medical cases, he adds.
In fact, the university will not have a large, centralized campus hospital. Instead, third and fourth year veterinary students
will work in rotations in various Los Angeles-area practices, including four other Banfield hospitals which are being renovated
to facilitate the education, Lewis says.