Education

Education


The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program places an emphasis on community and humane education as a major part of sheltering curriculum developed for our veterinary students.  By providing training for humane educators, our students, the community, and the shelter medicine world, the program can make a global impact on animal welfare.

Shelter Medicine Veterinary Student Curriculum

Providing first-rate educational opportunities is a priority for the Shelter Medicine program. Shelter medicine provides key training opportunities for all levels of veterinary student in surgical, medical, and management perspectives, while developing more socially aware and informed veterinarians.

  • Shelter Medicine Senior Year Rotation
  • Shelter Medicine Elective Course
  • Shelter Surgical Opportunities Electives
  • Other Course Involvement

Contact Shelter Medicine

Dr. Brittany Watson, Shelter Medicine 

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD
Director, Shelter Medicine & Community Engagement
Email: brittawa@vet.upenn.edu
Phone: 215-898-8341

  • Shelter Medicine Senior Year Rotation

    Students with a particular interest in shelter medicine can participate in intensive two- week rotations that include medical, surgical, and educational training.  Students visit all the partnering shelters, work with Pets for Life, perform middle school classroom outreach, learn about humane law enforcement, complete physical exams and shelter rounds, and public and herd health exposure. Students gain valuable hands-on experience in conducting spay and neuter surgeries and performing physical exams with primary case responsibility. Director of Penn Vet’s Behavior Service, under the guidance of Dr. Carlo Siracusa, rounds on veterinary behavioral techniques including reading body language and making recommendations for enrichment, training, and socialization. Students also learn from Penn Vet faculty such as Dr. James Serpell, Director of the Center for Interaction of Animals and Society, about subjects including the ethics of maintaining feral cat colonies.

  • Shelter Medicine Elective Course

    Penn Vet third-year students can also participate in a shelter medicine elective. This course is based on small group discussion and projects which encourage students to model relevant shelter medicine skills.  It provides an overview of core shelter medicine concepts.  During the course the students alsoevaluate primary literature and discuss how it applies to real-life situations and develop comprehensive plans for disease management which, at the end of the course, are available to shelters to integrate into their own protocols.

  • Shelter Surgical Opportunities Electives

    Students who would like to learn more about HQHV (high quality, high volume) surgery and get valuable experience can take the shelter surgical opportunities course. Our students take an online course in three levels that go through background of HQHV surgery, feline spays and neuters, and canine spays and neuters. It compliments and builds on core surgical curriculum. Students after completing online curriculum are evaluated in skills labs and then can go on-site to participating shelter facilities to perform supervised spay-neuter. Students have completed over 3000 surgeries in the last year alone through surgical initiatives at Penn Vet.

  • Other Course Involvement

    Penn Shelter Medicine is also involved in core courses including Introduction to Clinical Veterinary Medicine and Ethics. They also teach for the new Animal Welfare Elective using case-based discussion.


Community Education Programs 

The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program places an emphasis on community and humane education as a major part of sheltering curriculum developed for our veterinary students. By providing training for humane educators, our students, the community, and the shelter medicine world, the program can make a global impact on animal welfare.

Pipeline Program

  • Dr. Watson, Director of the Shelter Medicine Program, has been working with Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Perelman School of Medicine to expand the Pipeline Program, which has since 1998 provided West Philadelphia high school students the chance to deeply engage in science.
  • The Pipeline Program goes beyond textbook lessons to see how practicing researchers and clinicians—as well as undergraduate and graduate students at Penn—use science to probe medical mysteries and find answers that have an impact on societal health.
  • This school year, the program has added a 12th-grade curriculum focused on veterinary medicine, which Watson is leading with Penn Vet students. The high school students will explore commonalities between human and animal medicine and also focus on humane education, including lessons on animal welfare, ethics, and empathy. The program ends with a field trip to New Bolton Center headed by Dr. Ray Sweeney and the large animal team.

Lea School Outreach

  • The Netter Center also partners with Penn Vet and the Lea School to provide Middle School Veterinary Outreach.  Senior Penn Vet Shelter Rotation students create lessons to get students interested in veterinary medicine and science.
  • Bridging the Gaps

  • Other Community Programs

Penn Vet Shelter Medicine offers programs for limited consultations, outreach, and programs throughout the city. Please contact us with any inquiries you might have.