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Penn Vet's new core curriculum

The New Penn Vet Curriculum


Today, information is accessible in a way that previous generations could not have imagined. It takes seconds to access e-textbooks, search Google Scholar, PubMed or countless other online research search tools, or even gain educational insights, experience, and mastery through virtual reality.

What does that mean for students at Penn Vet?


Introducing a New Way of Learning

The educational paradigm in veterinary medicine has shifted and our students need new tools and a new perspective on how to become veterinarians in today's world. Our students now need to know how to:

  • find, assess, analyze, and synthesize that information
  • integrate information from multidisciplinary sources
  • problem-solve
  • decide on a best course of action, whether that involves patient care, the trajectory of their research, or running a business

While knowledge is important, our new curriculum shifts towards how to use that knowledge, how to practice, how to learn iteratively and succeed by achieving competencies that build on one another.


What is Competency-Based Education?

This educational model offers an outcomes-based and learner-centered approach. Progress is assessed using measurable milestones that map to the specific cognitive and practical competencies at each skill level, from novice to proficient. These competencies, adapted from the CBVE framework, include:

  • Scholarship

    The Penn Vet graduate demonstrates a commitment to life-long learning by identifying, interpreting, and applying evidence and advancing scientific and medical knowledge.

  • Critical Thinking

    The Penn Vet graduate evaluates, analyzes, integrates information and experience to make evidence-based decisions.

  • Patient Health Care

    The Penn Vet graduate performs preventative, diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures for the optimal healthcare and welfare of animals.

  • Population Health Care

    The Penn Vet graduate designs and implements herd health programs to prevent and control disease and to improve the health, welfare, and productivity of animal populations.

  • One Health

    The Penn Vet graduate will use an interdisciplinary approach to respond to health issues at the interface of animals, humans, and our environment.

  • Communication

    The Penn Vet graduate demonstrates knowledge of the principles and benefits of effective communication skills.

  • Collaboration

    The Penn Vet graduate collaborates with diverse colleagues, clients and other partners and demonstrates skills as a leader, team member, and advocate.

  • Professionalism

    The Penn Vet graduate demonstrates integrity, ethical reasoning, reflective practice, self-regulation, and personal well-being.

  • Regulation and Finance

    The Penn Vet graduate understands and abides by the legal and regulatory requirements as applies to their profession and demonstrates proficiency in personal and practice finances.


How Does This Type of Learning Translate into Coursework?

What it's like to be a student

The Integrated Core: Years One and Two

Our new curriculum begins with a two-year core, followed by two years of combined clinical rotations and classroom electives.

To determine what knowledge and skills you would need in the first year, we worked backwards. We asked ourselves what you would need to know:

  • about the form and function of healthy animals
  • to understand the roots of disease and dysfunction
  • how to prevent, diagnose, and treat these

Learn more about Years One and Two...

new curriculum clinical rotations

The Clinical Curriculum: Years Three and Four

The clinical curriculum offers unparalleled flexibility to tailor the last two years of school into preparation for careers spanning from clinical medicine to pure research.

In three-week blocks, you will work directly with many of the world’s leading veterinarians as you see and treat patients together. Blocks of elective classroom and lab courses interspersed throughout allow students to build on their knowledge in a range of diverse topics.

Learn more about years Three and Four...

About Wellness

Our profession recognizes that the ability to attend to one’s own wellbeing, as well as that of others, is a core competency in veterinary medicine.

Our new curriculum will explicitly address aspects of wellbeing to insure that our graduates will be able to recognize sources of workplace stress and signs of stress in themselves and colleagues.

Students will learn about tools for engaging in self-care, for recognizing when professional support is appropriate for themselves or others and for remedying adverse situations. 

About Diversity

Diversity is an essential part of our mission as educators. Besides providing our students with a first-class veterinary education, we are also obligated and committed to educate future veterinary professionals about issues pertaining to a diverse society.  

Our approach is to lead by example, providing students with tools to overcome diversity issues in the veterinary profession.

As educators, we are invested in the principle of One Health and believe in one world. One that contains all of us. Different together.