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4:33 PM   April 20, 2014
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Minnesota Values People Skills, Too

By Ken Niedziela

A world-renowned raptor hospital. The nation’s busiest veterinary teaching hospital. A diagnostic center that handles more than 1,200 cases a week. Research into comparative medicine, population systems, and emerging and zoonotic diseases.

These are just a few reasons the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine is on U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 list of the nation’s best veterinary schools.

Earning one of the 100 seats in each DVM class takes more than just good grades and veterinary experience. Minnesota is looking for certain personal characteristics as well.

“We look at their GPA and GRE scores, their animal, veterinary and life experience, and how they perform on a behavioral interview,” says the college’s dean, Trevor Ames, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM.

At a Glance

Location: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

Programs: DVM, DVM/MPH, MS, Ph.D.

Applicants: 1,000-1,200 annually

Enrolled: 100 annually

Class of 2011 Average GPA: 3.51

Class of 2011 Average GRE: 1170

Website: www.cvm.umn.edu

The one-hour structured interview, instituted with the Class of 2008, “selects for behavioral traits that predict success in the profession,” Dr. Ames says.

Rather than ask a prospective student what he or she would do in a given situation, the candidate might be asked, “Tell me about a time when ...”

“I’m not sure there’s anything students can do to prepare for it,” Ames says. “Students who have exceptional interpersonal skills often do well on those interviews.”

Once enrolled on the St. Paul campus, students focus on the sciences in the first two years, but not all the time.

“We emphasize experiential learning throughout all four years of the curriculum. We have courses designed to get them exposure to animals and hands-on experience starting in their freshman year,” Ames says.

The first four semesters include professional development courses that “work on not only the knowledge and technical skills but also the non-technical and people skills,” Ames says.

Launched into clinical work in the third year, students can be found in the Veterinary Medical Center’s small- and large-animal hospitals, which handle a combined 45,000 cases a year. Or they might go to Leatherdale Equine Center, which opened in 2007 with all the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment. About 80 minutes away is a dairy farm housing 4,500 animals along with dorm rooms, classrooms and laboratories.

“We’ve gone to a teaching farm model for our food animal clinical experience,” Ames says. “They get all the hands-on experience they need with normal as well as animals requiring therapy.”

Whether it’s working with injured bald eagles at the Raptor Center or assisting at the Clinical Investigation Center, DVM students are exposed to all types of specialties. In fact, fourth-year students complete 28 two-week rotations, choosing from electives such as “Miracle of Birth,” “Small Animal Theriogenology” and “Finance and Small Business.”

And when they’re in the super-busy Veterinary Medical Center, they’ll find huge numbers of patients and dozens of board-certified veterinarians.

“We were one of the first veterinary medical centers to start using clinical faculty that spend most of their time providing patient care, and that allows them the ability to focus on client care and make sure we are a client-centered organization,” Ames says. “They are great role models for our students.” <HOME>

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